Hindu monks ask to be relieved of the burden of communicating with (or sitting next to) women on planes

February 28, 2015 • 1:45 pm

Here’s a letter that came into my hands; it is given out to airlines when these Hindu monks check in for their flights, and requests special treatment on the grounds of their faith. That treatment involves not sitting next to women (or girls, I suppose), and not speaking to them directly. Nor are the monks to be spoken to by female flight attendents, except through an intermediary male passenger. Have a gander:



This is similar to the actions of those Orthodox Jews I wrote about last December, who refused to sit next to women on planes, also on religious grounds. (As far as I know, they will deign to speak to women, though.) Three flights were involved, with the Jews’ request causing delays in every case.

To me this letter requests unconscionable sex discrimination, and the airline should refuse to honor any of these requests (including that for pre-boarding—why do they need to get on the plane before anyone else?).  It’s simply wrong to ask airlines to permit a group of passengers to discriminate against women, even if the passengers plead the dictates of their faith.  Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, which in this case is equal treatment of all people, regardless of gender, race, or creed. Imagine if a religious group asked not to sit next to a black person, or speak to one except through a white intermediary!

Is there anyone out there who will justify or defend this practice?

And should airlines even try to honor this practice? Should they ask women to change places with men so these monks won’t be “polluted”? On the flights with Orthodox Jews, flight attendants tried to find seats that would satisfy those men. It’s not clear whether they asked people to move or simply pointed out empty seats that were suitable. I suppose the latter practice is okay because you are permitted to occupy any empty seat in your class after the plane takes off. But I don’t think flight attendants should be in the business of catering to sex-discriminatory religious practices by asking people to switch seats.

It’s heartening that on one of the flights I described in the earlier posts, it was the passengers who, incensed by this kind of request, refused to accommodate the Orthodox Jews by switching seats.

173 thoughts on “Hindu monks ask to be relieved of the burden of communicating with (or sitting next to) women on planes

  1. I think the airlines should helpfully misinterpret the letter and surround the monks with female passengers in a section crewed by a woman attendant, and that attendant should lavish the monks with extra attention.

    Hell, if the attendants feel personally inspired to undo a button or two on their blouses for the benefit of the monks, that would also be entirely appropriate.

    If the monks are serious about avoiding girl cooties, they can buy their own damned planes and fly them themselves.


    1. Or just sit next to them and constantly ask, “mister, hey mister what time is it mister” and all varieties of those questions.

      1. Hmm…monk in the middle seat…sweet grandma in the window seat with some knitting to catch up on, a thousand and one stories to tell of her grandchildren, and an hyperactive bladder…and a pre-teen girl in the aisle seat who wants to know if we’re there yet and why is he dressed so funny and are we there yet and could he tell her a story and are we there yet…and a drop-dead-gorgeous twenty-something busty attendant in a too-tight top with the top two buttons missing and a dedicated commitment to ensuring her passengers are well looked after.

        What other elements can we add to aid in the head-asplosion?

        Oh — I know! Make sure that the only magazines in the seat backs are Vogue and the like. Female cockpit crew, of course. And a woman supervisor at customs.


        1. Perhaps even better!

          Cross-dressers on either side — both a drag queen dressed to kill and a leather-clad bull dyke. That should be good for a couple extra asplosions right there.


          1. Is that enough? I think we would need to arrange for those movies to be shown on the seat-back TVs for that whole row.

            With no “off” button, of course.

            And no covering them up, either, in case the (female) captain has to interrupt the movie with an important safety message.


    2. If the monks are serious about avoiding girl cooties, they can buy their own damned planes and fly them themselves.

      That is the suggestion I was about to make. Let them fly private jets or better still they can walk

  2. I’m glad you see this as unfair (not that I doubted you would) because when some Hindu monks came into Canada, they requested that they not pass through security lanes operated by women. The women were asked to move to other lanes or some such.

    The women found out about this and complained about it being discriminatory.

    When I wrote about this and agreed with the women, I received a lot of pushback from men who said that no one was harmed so there is no reason why these men couldn’t be accommodated. They couldn’t see that the women were treated like second class citizens. It made them feel that their employer and even their society legitimized this type of thinking. Commenters also made false equivalencies to women being strip searched by females and not males. Not even close to what was being asked for here! These men didn’t want to talk to the women. Nobody was being strip searched.

    I have to say, the push back really upset me and I feel upset about it even today (long past the incident) because it really hit me how sexism is not taken seriously even in a society that has made so much progress. It stung me almost to tears that men I respect felt this way.

    1. I am sorry about that, Diana. You make the case for why it was wrong very well and of course I agree completely.
      Now, suppose the tables were turned with say a group of nuns going through and they insisted on no contact with men. This too would be gender discrimination, but my gut tells me that for some reason I would be less pissed off about it. I am not sure why. Maybe its because there is so much damn male privilege that an instance of discrimination in that direction would bother me less.

  3. Hey, if these monks are willing to take a vow of silence (and a pre-boarding shower), I volunteer to sit next to them.

    1. Or maybe if you want to live your life by some ancient bronze age philosophy then do us all a favour and eschew all modern conveniences like air travel

  4. They should be like Gandhi. He not only took a vow of chastity, he proved how pure he was by having women young enough to be his daughters share his bed. You can’t get more chaste than that!

    1. These monks and nuns are cheating by avoiding contact with people of the opposite sex. They called it “spiritual discipline” in the letter. Avoiding contact is not discipline, it’s making everyone else be disciplined for them.

    2. Sound’s like what many young Mormons consider not to be intercourse, which they call “parking”.

      I won’t bother to define it, it’s available on the net. It’s amazing what people and teenagers will rationalize to avoid rules they really want to ignore.

  5. But it’s against the tenets of my religion to sit beside anyone who refuses to sit beside anyone of a different gender as dictated by the tenets of their religion.

    I’m OK with them pre-boarding as long as they are willing to disembark before the plane has landed.

    1. Pre-disembarkment — I like!

      …but, come to think of it…well, the thing of it is, these monks are breathing the same recirculated air as all the cootie-laden females on the plane, aren’t they? I don’t think that’s very good for them.

      We should do them a flavor and offer them a spot on the plane where they’re entirely isolated from the women by a pressurized bulkhead.

      Wing seats for monks! Sure, it might get a bit…drafty…and cold…and lethally hypoxic…but, hey! They’ll be perfectly safe from teh wimmins for not just the trip, but the rest of their lives.


      1. What are these people doing cluttering up airlines, with their presence and demands?
        I thought they could “Astral Travel” or whatever, Maybe the astral “planes” are full of female spirits, and they are forced back to the earthly world. Poor saps.

      1. Oooh…I like.

        Female attendant to Monk: Sir, please return your seat to its full upright position.

        “Translator” to Monk: Dude, the way you’ve got your chair laid back, she so totally wants to ride your full upright cock!

        …the possibilities are endless….


  6. I took a CPR course a few years back, and one of the other students was an Hasidic Jew. I worked with him, figuring he would not gladly work with a woman. In hindsight perhaps I should have allowed him to feel uncomfortable, and forced him to reveal any such attitudes.

  7. I’m not quite sure why these highly religious types should be flying anyway. If g*d had wanted them to fly he would have added feathers.

    1. Hmm…that’s a good point.

      We could certainly assist them in remedying that deficiency.

      And, because we’d want to do a good, thorough job of it, we should begin by removing all external garments; dipping them in tar, and then applying the feathers.

      I do believe that should do the trick!


  8. If these men have special religious requirements
    that impose their beliefs and needs on people of other religions (and non) and sexes, they should remain at home in the enclaves they’ve prepared to provide for that belief and need. The rest of the world should not be expected to accommodate such idiocy.

  9. The least objectionable way that I can think of to accommodate them would be to have them be blindfolded, and led to their seats. All communication with any crew, male or female, and passengers, could be done through an intermediary. There would be no visible discrimination this way, except equal discrimination against all other members of our species.

    1. I don’t think I want any blindfolded passengers on a plane under any circumstances. There’s all sorts of safety concerns.

      And who’s to be the intermediary? Some Hindu equivalent of a Shabbas goy whom the mad monks pay to to accompany them? That has all sorts of potential for fail written all over it, as well.


      1. Blindfolded is just as risky as blind. A paid (or unpaid) intermediary for all communications is still irksome but not otherwise a failure.

        1. Blind is not a choice, and, if you’re blind, you’ve had plenty of practice at what it’s like and how to cope.

          And a flapper through whom all communications must go…is highly insulting to both the flapper and those who must speak to the flapper.

          What, you’re not good enough to talk to this schmuck with delusions of grandeur? And the flapper’s only good for stupidly repeating, word-for-word, what two people standing in front of each other are saying?


  10. Muslims, Jews and now Hindus, all seem to have a misogynistic problem within their theology. Christians do too, although it usually shows its ugly head in other ways. I’m not aware of men and women being segregated in quite the same way, though I’m happy to be proven wrong. I have no dog in this fight.

  11. The next time I’m traveling with one of these marvels of humanity, I’ll be holding the anniversary edition of Penthouse. Surely visual contacts with the female form do not infringe upon their chastity. What better way to deflower them?

  12. Could we just create an airline that only allows men and after it’s been booked and seated with various Hindu monks, Orthodox Jews, and other misogynistic gynophobes, just fly it into the sea?

  13. It wonder how the airlines would react to a letter in which the requests were exactly reversed. I could specifically ask to be surrounded by people of the female persuasion and to maximize communication with female flight attendants. Hmmm…

  14. what if the pilot is a woman? And/or the co-pilot? Can they not bear to hear the “This is your captain speaking …” announcements?

  15. Unlike the Orthodox Jews mentioned, these Hindus do at least seem to have foreseen some of the potential problems and attempted to minimise the inconvenience to others.

    The question I have is, if any of them were allocated a seat next to a woman, would they accept it (having made an honest attempt to comply with their religion’s dictates), or would they hold up the whole plane like the Orthodox Jews did? Have they, in fact, ever done that? If I were a fellow passenger that would be the critical question.

    I still think they’re misguided and stupid, but it’s whether they impose that on other people that determines whether they’re assholes or not.

  16. To Whom It May Concern:

    To Whom It May Concern:

    This is a request to facilitate special requirements for Atheist Humanist from Canada who will be flyingtoday.

    The Atheist Humanist observe lifelong rational thought as part of his/her intellectual discipline, which restricts them from verbal and physical contact with monks, priests, Imams, Nuns, Preachers, Pastors, Chaplains, Clergy, Dawah, Machi, Shaman’s, Astrologer, Rabi, Mystic, Celebrant, Officiant, Gonagas, Novice or similar.

    To safe guard the discipline I politely request that your esteemed airline please arrange for the following:

    1. A free upgrade to first class.

    2. They are assigned seats beside, in front and behind other rational thinkers. If this is not possible, we request they be seated beside exceptionally intelligent and good looking persons. A written IQ test is available if required.

    3. Should Ben Affleck or Deepak Chopra be on the same flight, neither should be allowed to board under any circumstances unless they are muzzled and restrained for the safety of all passengers.

    4. Flight attendants give them extra-ordinary attention at all times, and if available, full bar service.
    5.Provide the person with an opportunity to view the cockpit, and at some time, allow him/her to fly the plane. It would be especially appreciated if the person can land the plane, at his/her discretion at the closest airport to his or her final destination should there be enough fuel.

    6. We request all other passengers resist talking about religious topics, thanking god, blessing those who sneeze, or reading any holy books before, during or after the flight. We request there be no praying during minor turbulence within eyesight of the atheist.
    Praying or humming of religious hymns is allowed during major turbulance or emergency situations, such as but not limited to crashes, loss of engine power or hijackings, but only if the hymn is hummed to the tune of Swedish award winning group Abba’s Dancing Queen.
    Musical score is available on request for a small fee.

    7. The atheist will at all times be wearing in ear noise cancelling headphones and hearing protection ear muffs and he or she will in no way be able to hear anyone, and will ignore all attempted spoken communication. The atheist will communicate with pre written cue cards, or, will write out what he wants on a card, and using a 24 inch pointed stick the atheist will point at a suitable person who will act out, in charades, whatever the atheist is trying to communicate to the appropriate person.

    8. If the person selected to communicate in charades is unwilling or unable to appropriately communicate the message, the atheist may request the selected person be removed to coach class while his or her bags are ejected from the plane.

    Thank you for your kind consideration and cooperation in helping us to achieve these very minor modifications to your regular service in order to provide for our non-religious religious rights.

    Yours insincerely

  17. It doesn’t look from the available information that this is a case of sexism at all. If I understand Hindu mysticism it is all about subduing worldy desire and this request makes no moral judgement at all about women. It is obviously a matter of some importance to them and I don’t blame them for asking.Unlike most commenters here, apparently, I am sympathetic to the mystic mindset because I’ve been there myself and although there is cultural sexism in some Asian countries (not usually religious in origin) I don’t see evidence of it here.

    It is up to the airline and the other passengers to decide whether to accede to the requests and they would be quite within their rights to refuse to inconvenience themselves. I don’t see the point in getting worked up about it because I don’t see any malice in the request.

    1. Malice or no malice, sexist mindset or not, the monks are still making a royal nuisance of themselves.

      And the right way to deal with passengers who present a list of demands like this is not to honour them, in the interests of avoiding the chaos that would ensue if we all got to present our own list of demands.

    2. Well, I suppose, in principle, that anyone can request anything they want to.

      What if some wimmenfolk state that it is mandatory that they sit next to any available Hindu monk when flying?

    3. I agree.
      I too think it is a different class of problem than the Jewish one, where they do have an expressed negative opinion of women and it is misogynistic.

      This is a bit different, these monks are pursuing a path of celibacy and distancing from and suppressing material bodily distractions from the more spiritual path.

      I do think that it is a misguided endeavor such that there is no separate spiritual and material realms but one may achieve some interesting peculiar states of (material) mind following an ascetic path.
      There doesn’t seem to be a negative judgement or criticism of women in the request and they aren’t avoiding women because women are bad, only that they believe in that kind of sensual purity that contact with women makes difficult to adhere to.

      I also think it is different than the Islamic notion of covering women up and blaming them for men desires or whatever nonsense that is.

      Perhaps they would be better off not mingling, but maybe it was unavoidable.
      Perhaps they could test their resolve rather than have their resolve catered to, but really, there was no harm in a polite request.
      I don’t think it denigrated women, homosexuals however?

      1. It makes me, as a woman, uncomfortable being a woman. I feel like they see me as a dirty sex object and I don’t like it when people say they can’t talk to me or associate with me for something I can’t change and had no part in deciding. Would it be any different of the polite request asked not to be seated next to blacks, Jews, homosexuals? If yes, do you feel comfortable telling the listed people that this segregation is going to take place for the reasons in the letter? If no, why not?

        1. Actually, I was sitting on the beach today, appreciating all the women in bikinis (and reflecting how sad it would be if they were all wearing black sacks), and reflecting how dumb the orthodox Jews / Muslims / whoever are to deprive themselves of the enjoyment of looking at good-looking females.

          If however, I had for some absurd reason taken a vow of celibacy, then for very practical reasons I would try not to sit next to a woman. I certainly wouldn’t see her as ‘dirty’ as you suggest but as a rather strong distraction from my attempted celibacy. In other words, desirable. This obviously would not apply to (male) blacks, Jews or homosexuals.

          I don’t see that the letter implies that women are inferior. I’d need to see some other evidence about that sect before convicting them of that.

          I assume the nuns of that denomination (who have also taken a vow of celibacy) have the same letter but with the genders reversed.

          1. If however, I had for some absurd reason taken a vow of celibacy, then for very practical reasons I would try not to sit next to a woman.

            Why? Do you have sex with every woman you sit next to on a plane? Are you incapable of refraining from having sex with the women you sit next to on planes?


            1. No, for the very practical reason that celibacy is difficult enough without deliberately making it harder. Nothing to do with having sex but certainly a lot to do with thinking about it.

          2. I have this same argument over and over. You do realize that the monks see these women only as temptations and temptresses correct? They are not people to them, they are tempters. To me this is incredibly offensive. I have no worth but my looks, which is probably to say then none.

            1. You’re being overly generous to the monks.

              These monks are supposed to be the pinnacle of self-discipline and compassion and wisdom and all the rest, right?

              So why is it that they’re the only ones who’re incapable of behaving in a civilized manner when seated next to a woman?

              Must be because women are so overwhelmingly tempting that even these great bastions of anti-temptation will fall victim if one even exists within the same enclosed space. Kryptonite on steroids. Kryptonite on estrogen?

              How us lesser male mortals ever manage to function without engaging in a constant orgy must blow their minds.


              1. Really I see it no differently as Muslim men who put sacks over their women because they think men are like goats who can’t control themselves. This is insulting to men and to women – notably the women are the ones who have to be sanctioned as it is their fault if they get raped because men can’t control themselves.

            2. “I have no worth but my looks, which is probably to say then none.”

              That’s a very good way to describe why lookism hurts, Diana.

              (Even if it would never apply to us. 😉 )

          3. I assume the nuns of that denomination (who have also taken a vow of celibacy) have the same letter but with the genders reversed.

            You assume wrong. There are no nuns in that denomination. All positions in the religious hierarchy are occupied by men.

          4. Suppose for a moment that these are not celibate monks we’re talking about, but garden-variety philanderers trying to patch up their broken marriages. Does anybody here think it would be reasonable for them to ask that no women be seated next to them, and only male flight attendants should talk to them, in order to minimize temptation?

            If you think that’s out of line, then what makes the monks’ request any different? How is this not just another case of religion assuming unwarranted privilege?

            1. Hmmm. In a railway carriage or a bus, I would find it quite sensible for them to choose a vacant seat away from women, if they felt it advisable. On a plane I suppose they could try asking to be seated next to a male passenger, if such a seat was available. How much success they might have I don’t know, might work in New Zealand, Diane seems to suggest it wouldn’t work in USA. I DON’T think they should expect anyone else to move, though.

              This is getting a bit off the point.

              It may be religion assuming unwarranted privilege, but I guess on a scale of 1 to 10 it’s about a 1 (so long as they don’t hold up the plane for even a minute). Far less offensive than trying to dictate what other people do about sex, contraception, abortion, and so on.

              1. But it’s not just a question of where they sit. They don’t want any contact with women: they don’t want to speak to them or be spoken to by them; they don’t want to queue up with them or risk brushing elbows with them during boarding. (And they want first crack at stowing their bags.) They want female flight attendants to alter their working routine throughout the flight to avoid any interaction with the monks.

                Basically these grown men are asking for the sort of special accommodation we normally reserve for autistic children. Not because they need it, but simply out of some self-aggrandizing notion of spiritual purity. And they think they can get away with it by playing the religion card.

        2. Well, I mostly think that you should not have be made to feel like that.
          I mention somewhere else that celibacy and pleasures of the flesh are not exclusive to only the female sex, so I am inclined to agree with you even though I was trying to find a possible other point of view.

        3. Diana, I think you are 200% right, this is just totally demeaning, and I can’t get over all the comments trying to justify this kind of religious preciousness.
          This post reminds me somewhat of the Zen story of two monks. They come to a river and a woman is standing by the bank. One monk lifts the woman onto his back and they all cross the river and the woman gets down. The monks go on their way. An hour or so later one monk says to the other “We are Buddhist monks and are not supposed to associate with women, so why did you carry that woman across the river”. The other monk replies “I put the woman down back by the river, why are you still carrying her”.

    4. If there’s no sexism involved, where are all the female monks asking to be shielded from contact with male passengers and crew? Somehow those cases don’t seem to crop up nearly as often.

    5. Huh?? Not sexist?
      What if some of the Hindu special people were homosexual? If it’s just about avoiding worldly desires, then would they request to not be seated near a man — especially a hunky man?

    6. Even if it’s not malicious, it’s profoundly offensive and unenlightened. Even if no offense was intended and all is the result of ignorance.

      But these monks are supposed to be wise and learned and sources of wisdom and enlightenment, so we should instead take their boorishness as carefully calculated and malicious insults.


  18. “We will be happy to accede to your requests, but we must inform you that will only be possible in First Class.”

  19. Somehow this seems even more outlandish with the monks than the garden-variety Orthodox Jews.

    Maybe it’s because I think of monks as making sacrifices – silly ones, but still sacrifices – in order to live what they take to be a more spiritual life. Surely this doesn’t count unless you’re really making things difficult for yourself; it’s kind of cheating when you’re effectively asking other people to make sacrifices on your behalf.

    In Van Gulick’s Judge Dee books, Buddhist monks are often the villains – reflecting a Confucian bias that was probably well enough grounded: the suspicion that these “selfless” monks were really imposing the difficulties of their own lifestyle on everyone else.

    1. It depends on the particular spiritual philosophy. In some philosophies self-denial is not the point. The point is to avoid stimulation of the senses. Of course it can happen that the reasons behind custom can be forgotten over time and the custom blindly followed.

      1. Shouldn’t fly then – pretty sense-stimulating by itself. There is no need to fly so they shouldn’t, by that reasoning. Flying is a want not a need.

    2. “Surely this doesn’t count unless you’re really making things difficult for yourself; it’s kind of cheating when you’re effectively asking other people to make sacrifices on your behalf.”

      Very good point!

      1. But what ‘sacrifices’ were they asking other people to make? Not sitting next to them?

        It seems kind of perverse to want to make what you’re doing more difficult, anyway.

        1. OK, so imagine you’ve made reservations far enough in advance or used your airline-privilege card or whatever to nail down that window or aisle seat you want in the section of the plane you prefer.

          You board with the hordes, stow your stuff, settle in with your book or kindle, while all the other seats in the plane (because they overbook like crazy) gradually fill with all the other passengers likewise stowing their stuff, finding their seats, etc.

          And at some point a flight attendant asks you to relocate, because this man’s religion says he can’t sit next to you. Remember that cabins being what they are, everyone for 4 or 5 rows ahead and behind you can hear this conversation.

          And being rather nonassertive, you stand up awkwardly, grab the stuff you’ve stowed or set out for the ride in a messy armful, and follow the attendant to wherever they want you to move, while, of course, everyone’s watching. Because this man’s religion says he can’t have anything to do with women.

          You wouldn’t find this sort of scenario a little bit deflating?

          1. IF they asked passengers to move I would find that just as offensive as when the Orthodox Jews did it.

            But so far as I can see the letter is an attempt to pre-empt that problem at seat allocation time. It may be that if it doesn’t work the monks just put up with it and don’t make a fuss – as I would if my attempt to request a window seat failed.

            Nobody yet has produced any account of the monks causing a delay to flights. If they do I’ll join in the condemnation – vehemently, because I hate being held up when travelling. If not, I’ll assume it hasn’t happened.

            1. The first sentence of the above letter:

              This is a request to facilitate special requirements for Hindu Monks from India who will be flying today.

              (Emphasis mine.) If that’s not a recipe for a huge boarding gate clusterfuck, I don’t know what is.

              Not to mention a sign that these people expect everyone to jump to heed their demands because religion.

  20. If they think not talking to members of the opposite gender is celibacy, wouldn’t talking to members of the same gender constitute homosexual relations? Or is it just that women can’t resist a penniless guy with a chest-length beard in Orange robes? I mean, hawt!

    Either way, someone doesn’t understand how sex works. There’s a little more to hooking up than answering the question of coffee, tea or milk.trust me when I say this, boys: it a unt gonna happen

    They don’t seem to understand a key principle in life, which is that a virtue never tested is no virtue at all.

  21. How could any airline submit to these ridiculous sexist requests? Imagine having a policy that prohibits seating a woman next to a man or even worse asking a woman to change seats to move her away from a man. Simply unthinkable.

    Many airlines do however have a policy of not allowing an unaccompanied child to sit next to a man. Where such seating arrangements do occur they will ask the man to move in front of all the other passengers regardless of any embarrassment it causes. It’s seen as entirely reasonable to presume that he may be a child molester simply because he is a man.

    “I can’t sit next to a woman because of my vow of chastity” – an entirely unreasonable request by a bunch of kooks.

    “You have to move away from that child because you might be a pedophile” – formal airline policy.

    The monks are wrong but how is the sexist policy of airlines any better?

    1. Maybe you have seen reference to the case of male student barred from being in the vicinity of a female student because he reminded her of her rapist. Poor guy lived on the verge of being expelled for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Not only that, the university put the guy under a microscope and questioned his friends even though there was no question of him actually being the rapist.

    2. “Many airlines do however have a policy of not allowing an unaccompanied child to sit next to a man.”

      My answer would be twofold, and exactly the same as if I was asked to move for a Jew / monk.

      1. I don’t want to sit next to some brat [/religious freak] anyway.
      2. Why the hell should I move. Shift the kid.

      However, if the seat allocation was sorted out ahead of time by the airline (as these monks are requesting) then the problem wouldn’t arise, would it?

  22. While I do not appreciate others imposing their religion on me, religions have helped to create some beautiful art and architecture. I still want to go into the Sistine Chapel with a mattress and lie there all day checking out the ceiling. BAPS built an incredible temple in suburban Chicago which is worth checking out:

    1. It was not religious inspiration that created works such as the Sistine Ceiling fresco. It was because the church controlled the political system and the artists. Michelangelo was ordered to paint the ceiling, and had no choice in the subject.

      1. Or if they weren’t ordered in that sense, they were ordered in the other as (as you say) that was where the money power and influence was, to afford to commission such things.

        1. And although there is a lot of beautiful religious paintings, music, costumes etc. – religious people also destroy priceless centuries old art — see ISIS in Mosul; so what is the point of bringing this up in this instance?

  23. Just this week I sat next to a delightful young woman on my flight from Chicago to Portland, OR. She was 20-ish, tattooed and a professional stripper at a Portland Club. We had a great conversation and a hug as we deplaned. What’s wrong with these monks?

    1. “What’s wrong with these monks?”
      Well, just celibacy. Same as is ‘wrong’ with all monks.

      But, given that they’re trying to maintain that celibacy, your anecdote is a good reason for them to behave as they do.

      Might not be a bad tactic for married men to adopt too, at that…

          1. Well let me see now, given that the monks have removed themselves from the class of ‘males sitting next to women’, that means your chances of sitting next to a woman are slightly improved. So it’s win-win. 🙂

      1. So you reduce all men to walking hormones and all women to temptresses. You know they think exactly like this in countries that cover the women in cloth sacks. Men are considered like randy goats and so the solution is to cover the women and hide them away from these men who can’t control their lust.

        1. Sorry Diana but no. Most men are walking hormones to some degree (blame nature!). The more civilised of them (i.e. most of them) control it. Trying to stay celibate for any length of time makes it much more difficult though.

          And I’m not commenting on the motives of women at all. But an attractive woman is attractive (blame nature again!) whether she tries or not.

          The answer is NOT to try and put all women in sacks. I find that idea offensive. What the monks are trying to do – which is avoid temptation to themselves with a minimum of inconvenience to anyone else, hopefully the other passengers wouldn’t even notice – I find much less offensive.

          1. And you’ve come up with another possible solution–only seat monks next to ugly women.

            (Try not to let the women catch on, though.)

            (PS: Women aren’t walking around with hormones, too?)

            1. “And you’ve come up with another possible solution–only seat monks next to ugly women.
              (Try not to let the women catch on, though.)”

              I don’t dare reply to that 😉

              “(PS: Women aren’t walking around with hormones, too?)”
              I’m sure they are but that wasn’t the topic of the discussion. If they are I suppose they might be safer next to a monk? (Bit hard on the monk though…)

            2. Well women are but sexist cultures don’t really recognize this. Women are just temptresses that have obligations to their husbands. They aren’t supposed to have sexual feelings as that makes them whorish.

              1. Correction: all women are whorish, which is why they must be encased in body sacks and constantly guarded by close male relatives. It’s just that, when a woman has insufficiently repressed sexual feelings, that makes her an especially difficult-to-control whore…and that diminishes not only her monetary value but the social standing of whichever man is unfortunate enough to own her.


              2. @ Ben:
                Well now you’re attacking the fundamental Muslim attitude to women. (Which I agree is terrible). But is there any evidence these Hindu monks have ever advocated that?

              3. It’s the same fundamental attitude – women are temptresses, therefore they must be removed.

              4. Yup. The monks may do it all with an humble smile instead of threats of violence, but so what?

                Substitute any other personal trait that somebody might be born with — skin color, height, whatever.

                “Our monks are trying to maintain their religious principle of fleshy humility, and would respectfully ask that you not seat them next to any Samoans due to their overwhelming physical presence and disturbingly dark skin. Further, anybody taller than 5’10” or with excessively dark skin should refrain from direct contact with our monks and instead conduct any necessary business through a modestly-sized intermediary with a pleasing skin color.”

                But, of course, that wouldn’t be slightly racist, would it? They’re just holding faithful to their religious ideals…

                …which themselves are a steaming pile of bear shit — and it’s not the type strongly colored from berries, but the stuff that smells of pepper spray and is littered with those noisemaking bells hikers carry.


          2. And of course it is the women who must be removed because the monk may be attempted. Sorry but no that’s bullshit sexism.

            1. I rather think it’s the monk who was attempting to remove himself, not the other way around. 🙂

              1. Tho if they don’t make their requirements known till the day of the flight, there’s no way they’re not going to inconvenience and relocate other passengers.

              2. There I go again, assuming seat allocation at check-in. If special seating requests only get processed after everybody’s been allocated a seat, then I agree they’re being a nuisance.

              3. Infinite, I’m forgetting if you’re Aussie or kiwi or what, but it sure sounds civilized down there. 😀

              4. I’m a Pom (English), but I live in New Zealand.

                I’ll admit that things may have changed over the last few years with the advent of web check-in etc, which puts a different shade on the argument from what I was unconsciously assuming. I can say I’ve almost never flown on crowded commuter flights.

            2. It occurs to me that the least upsetting way to handle this (if the airline decides to accede to the monks’ demands)is to ask some man from an all-male row to transfer seats. Let the women retain their original seats, at least.

              1. Well that’s showing favouritism to women 😉 But since it arises from a male monk’s request, I don’t see how I as a male could complain.

                My argument from minimal inconvenience was based on a presumption of seats being pre-allocated and nobody being asked to move seats after. I think if it involves people being asked to move seats after they’ve been seated, the monks should just put up with the seats they’re given as best they can.

              2. Gotcha! And I do agree that in the scheme of things, there are worse forms of sexism one can encounter.

                Perhaps this would be First World sexism. Regarding the women affected, of course. The monks might be more Dark Age…

  24. As with all cases of discrimination, it’s easy to demonstrate by substituting the group to which they take offense. Suppose the monks had requested to not be seated next to a person of color, or to be served by such. There would be no question of its inappropriateness.

    1. Perhaps, but wouldn’t it depend on the actual rationale behind the request?
      We have a pretty blanket condemnation of such things, for good reason, but not every seemingly nefarious position may be nefarious.

      1. Good point.

        In the case of e.g. persons of colour, Jews etc (presumed male), sex is not a factor and nor is the monks’ celibacy. In the case of women it is. So one of these things is not like the other and the analogy is false.

        1. By that logic, a right-wingy fundagelical could request and presumably expect to have his/her request accommodated, to not have to sit next to any cross-dressed, transgendered or otherwise ambiguously gendered person?

        2. Then lets imagine this – my scripture tells me that I cannot accept homosexuals so I cannot sit next to them as my scripture tells me they will tempt me to become a homosexual. Is that okay? We will ask the homosexuals to deplane or sit elsewhere?

          1. Still not quite the same.

            Males ARE attracted to females naturally, regardless of their scripture. Fact of life. The monks don’t need their scripture to tell them that.

            But the big difference is, the monks aren’t asking anyone to deplane or move seats, they’re asking that they be seated in ‘suitable’ locations. I’ve asked at check-in for a particular seat e.g. a window seat, and I’ve usually been accommodated if I got there early enough, no special reason required. So I can’t see that the monks are asking for anything extraordinary.

            I’ll repeat – IF the monks held up the plane, then they’d incur my wrath. But they don’t seem to have, so there are far more significant things to worry about.

            1. “I’ve asked at check-in for a particular seat e.g. a window seat, and I’ve usually been accommodated if I got there early enough,…”

              In the US, infinite? Because it’s many times been my experience that they’ll not only refuse to help but tell you so in not the most pleasant of manners as well.

              1. No, in New Zealand and the pacific islands. On whatever airline, Air NZ, Pacific Blue, Air Fiji, Cook Islands International, Ansett – they all were at least polite and almost always (if the plane wasn’t already booked up) acceded to my request. And no, I don’t have the charisma of George Clooney, I’m just averagely polite so I assume they’d do that for anyone who asked politely.

                I haven’t needed to in the last couple of years because I’ve used on-line seat selection.

                I don’t know where the monks were flying – just checking the letter head that does look like USA. It is possible that context influences my views and that what they are asking in a USA context is more exceptional than it would be here.

              2. Jeez, are you lucky. I’d suggest you fly out of, say, O’Hare (Chicago) someday, esp. with United, and see what it’s really like to be a sardine; but I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

                And of course, that would be after you’d run the TSA gauntlet.

              3. Let me recommend the (comparative) joys of flying in the back of beyond…

            2. You really aren’t going to get that this is offensive to me as a woman. I don’t really care what the monks think they can find another plane to fly on that they have chartered themselves if they are so horny then can’t bare the thought of the walking vaginas they have reduced women to.

              1. I get that you’re offended. But if all the monks do is avoid women, as unobtrusively as possible, isn’t that mostly a problem just for for them? Like there are zillions of people with far, far worse ways to treat women than just avoiding them, Catholics Muslims and fundagelicals leap to mind.

                I really don’t know why I’m defending these guys except I think this thread is an over-reaction to them.

              2. No, because the women, including flight attendants aren’t allowed to do their jobs and have to face the inconvenience of avoiding these monks. These women aren’t treated equally to their male counterparts as they have to tiptoe around certain males that can’t handle the fact that they are female.

  25. I think all airlines should have a stash of see-through plastic bags for precisely this sort of incident. Then people of faith can cover up and protect themselves from coodies and not disrupt the seating plan.

  26. I think the solution to this is obvious: commercial flights contain women, so if they want to avoid contact with women they need to avoid commercial flights. What they should do is charter a flight with an all-male crew. Yes, this will be more expensive, and it may be hard to find a charter service willing to participate in this sexual discrimination against a significant proportion of their potential crews, but that is the price you have to pay for practicing beliefs so far out of touch with modern norms.

  27. I wonder how well their vow of celibacy holds up for those attracted to the same gender? Do gay followers have to only sit next to women? Seems to be a major flaw in all male religious groups vows.

    1. My guess (and it is just that) would be that their religion is also homophobic. But it might not come up, since perhaps it is not the sexual temptation per se, but the “cooties” that matter here.

  28. I think monks should have developed sufficient self-control not to be aroused by the nearness of women If not, dont venture out

    1. What, only monks?

      I think you just confined half the male population of the western world to house arrest…

      1. Only monks are forbidden by religious diktat. Other men (why, women too) may feel so but are not expected to exhibit it in any inappropriate manner.

    2. When you can snatch the pebble from my hand, then it will be time for you to leave. Modified for the sexual arousal of monks, of course.

  29. If the plane went down / crash landed, would they refuse to listen to female instructions on how to exit the aircraft to save their sorry collective arses..

    1. More importantly, if the plane crashed in the Andes, would they be willing to eat the female passengers or would they restrict themselves to the men?

    2. ‘Female flight attendants avoid verbal and physical contact except in emergency (they are well versed in flight protocol and emergency procedure)’

      Next red herring…?

  30. As the jet taxis out just moments before the take-off, a sophisticated, British-accented woman’s voice says over the cabin speakers:

    “Good morning, welcome to British Airways flight 419, direct from Calcutta to London. This is your pilot, Captain MARY Johnson. Our flight will take approximately…”


  31. Buy extra tickets… make them pay for the “space” — Anyone can get a gate pass but there are rules about going to the ticket counter on the day of the flight and having the correct ID. Most flights you don’t have to talk to the flight attendant, and they can just act like they are sleeping during the drink service…

  32. They need to buy enough seats so they have empty ones surrounding them on all sides, and pay to have reserved seats.

    I do think the flight attendants could just ignore them.

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