Women in religion are so often swept away by the more prominent achievements of the male members of their order. This does not mean that these women did not play a formative role in their religion, but their stories are Often unrecorded or ignored and their contributions are devalued. It is easy to believe that this is isolated to one religion that we might feel particularly uncharitable towards, however my research has shown that this happens in almost all religions around the world. Buddhism is complicated with regard to women, as some countries’ version of it holds women in higher esteem than others.
The whole religion has been debating on whether or not women can legitimately participate in enlightenment since Buddhism was first founded. Some groups believe women can reach enlightenment, but others disagree, and some believe that women can be ordained as nuns while others do not share this idea. The tradition of open debate within the faith and philosophy can sometimes make it difficult to standardize any one belief or tradition, as well as the fact that Buddhism sprawls out over such a wide range of the world.
This issue of women in religion is significant because religion shapes our view of the world and how we treat our fellow humans, nimals, and nature itself. No matter what religion you were born into or if you ever actually followed it, it plays a formative role on every single person that has ever lived. In certain parts of the world religious laws and customs trump the actual laws of government. This is why it is imperative to know in full truth how each religion treats women, and has treated them in the past. With the recent waves of human rights awareness and the feminist movement starting up again, this becomes even more crucial.
Things will never change unless you understand why they happened in the first place. Equality stems from mutual understanding and respect. I specifically focused on the Buddhist religion because it is the one I have chosen to follow. I wanted to learn more about its history and practices, as well as differences in the beliefs of each sect of Buddhism. It also interested me because it is surprisingly misogynistic for a religion that focuses on universal love and tolerance. Many things that I thought were true of Buddhism turned outto be delusions. Academic Books Anand, Mulk Raj.
Kama Kala: Some Notes on the Philosophical Basis of Hindu Erotic Sculpture. Geneva: Nagel Publishers, 1963. Print. This book explores the ways in which the Christian colonizers of India viewed love and sexuality in Indian culture. It covers both the Hindu and Buddhist societies within India and their sculptures, which often depicted erotic love. The author discusses why sex and sexuality is frowned upon in Christian societies and not in Indian ones, among other Buddhist and Hindu practices, and uses various bits of scripture relating to particular sculptures to drive his point home.
Anand elaborated on the idea that the sculptor echoes his vision of life in his or her art, and how Indian art is misinterpreted the world over. The book in entirety also illuminates the problem that Western attitudes created in regards to women, mainly by imposing Christian values on colonial populations. Admittedly, this work was not what had expected based on my research in the database, and is hard to fit into my research, but it makes some cogent points. The author discusses how Europeanisation changed the opinions and treatment of women, especially with regards to their value in procreation.
The Europeans who first tried to change India looked at erotic sculpture and saw it as obscene, when to Indians it was merely a depiction of the holy union of love. The Indian peoples saw the desire to have sex as natural, but the Europeans strictly enforced their ideas about prudery and obscenity to great effect. Now married couples in India are not even allowed to hold hands or kiss in public, and these systems of thinking are always more detrimental to women because of their traditional impurity. Anand also discusses quite a bit about how the Aryans changed Indian society. DeVido, Elise Anne. Taiwan’s Buddhist Nuns. Albany: SUN Y, 2010. rint. Taiwan’s nuns are singular within their religion. Taiwan has the most Buddhist nuns in the world as well as more nuns than monks. Unlike other countrys nuns, Taiwan’s Buddhist nuns play a large role in society, social services, and education and are highly respected. This book explores how Buddhism in Taiwan is shaped by nuns and ordinary women, who both play an important role. DeVido also shows the history of female Buddhists in China and Taiwan to explain how they came to be so valued in the present. She explores several different orders of nuns, as well as how popular philosophies have bolstered women in Taiwan.
It is important to have sources that represent all sides of an argument in order to understand the full issue. DeVido’s book shows the rare circumstance where women are equal or more important than men in Buddhism. In Taiwan, nuns’ contributions to society are valued as they are nowhere else in the world. Taiwan went through a religious renaissance of sorts in the 1 980’s, when there was more relative freedom for everyone, women included. Women poured into convents to pursue the opportunities that a nun’s life afforded them, and nuns also contributed to society in many ways.
One of these ways was the formation of numerous relief groups and non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, which helped organize aid for the oor of Taiwan. These organizations also helped the numerous victims of natural disasters and furthered education, medicine, charity, and culture. In the aftermath of the authoritarian regime, these groups were instrumental in rebuilding the country. Most other sources explored religious lives of nuns, their history, and religious struggles they face or prejudices against them, but DeVido explores their actual contributions to society.
She mentions their history and a few important nuns, but mostly covers how they are important in the lives of Taiwanese people. Usually, this sort of writing would be about onks, which is why this book has been instrumental in my research. Grant, Beata. Daughters of Emptiness: Poems of Chinese Buddhist Nuns. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2003. Print. The Buddhist nuns Of China Were some Of the first Women to be ordained into the faith. Some of their writings were very well preserved, as well as records of their lives.
The preface and introduction to this collection flesh out the background of the nuns and give a history of sorts of nuns in China. This book is one of only a few collections of Buddhist nun’s poetry, and it is more common to find the poems scattered in different works. Beata Grant gives as clear of a picture as possible of the monastic tradition in China. There is also a short summary of each woman’s life before each poem. Beata Grant has provided a short history of women in Chinese Buddhism in the introduction, focusing on the women’s places in society and how they may have influenced the world around them.
She discusses various debates that have been recorded of each woman, and gives as rounded a concept of their lives as is possible in such a short space. She tells about the implications of being a nun at each time period in China, and a sample of how they were reated. This allows me to see a clearer picture of why nuns were treated the way they were, because in China it was considered dangerous for a woman to be educated. Some nuns were influential and respected despite this, but this belief is the main reason why so many nuns are subjugated even in modern times.
They also were seen as deviating from the Confucian tradition to some degree, and this also contributes to their societal worth. Many nunneries provided refuges for women and advocated for greater rights for women, but this was generally looked down upon throughout history. Nevertheless, this hows that at least one group saw the injustices in Chinese society and tried to change things for the better. Furthermore, these efforts were recorded in history instead Of ignored, which is very significant and uncommon, especially because they were recorded by men. Gutschow, Kim. Being a Buddhist Nun the Struggle for Enlightenment in the Himalayas.
Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2004. Print. Gutschow wrote this book about her experiences while living in a Buddhist nunnery in Zangskar, a small territory along the Himalayas and west of the Kashmir valley of India. She travelled to one of several nunneries in the area o live like an apprentice nun would, in order to explore women’s and nun’s place in the Buddhism of that area. She was writing a dissertation on how the village, nuns, and the monastery interacted. She observed, and even experienced to a point, the severe inequality of women and nuns in the village and the lack of punishment that offending men received.
Gutschow witnessed both the greater efforts and dedication of the nuns and the villages’ and monks’ dismissal of them. There is a huge disparity between how the monks are viewed and their actual performance as celibate religious leaders. The nuns are held to both the expectations of village women and expectations of religious devotees, and this is a major reason for their treatment. GutschoiMs work was critical to my understanding Of my topic because, unlike the other sources, her book was written from personal experience of Buddhist nuns.
It had elements of history, in order to explain and flesh out the events in it, but it was a personal account of life in a nunnery. She actually faced the hardships that the nuns and village women went through. The nuns were barely respected by anyone and had to submit to even the oungest of monks. They worked tirelessly for the good of their village and were subjugated and even sexually assaulted in return. While I’m sure this is not typical for nuns in all Buddhist areas, the lack of respect for even the most senior nuns was shocking to read about.
The attitude of the male villagers and monks closely reflected my own experiences with small-town residents and other small-minded people. Historical accounts have their place, but personal stories make the events more real. Gutschow went into her journey knowing that she would face some sort of misogyny or other inequality, and he was aware that the culture would be different, but she expressed surprise at how deeply these things run in some cultures. There were women who did their best to take care of each other, but not much actual effort was made towards changing the society.
Life continued much as it had in ancient times. Paul, Diana Y. , Frances Wilson, and l. B. Horner. Women in Buddhism: Images of the Feminine in Mahyna Tradition. Berkeley. U of California, 1985. Print. This book is a study of ideologies and the redefinition of gender in Indian and Chinese Buddhism. It is an interpretation of stories that give insight to ender roles in Buddhism, and the authors studied the different views of women in the religion. They emphasize that gender roles were constantly changing, even if the people and stories of the time were not aware of it, and strive to present the study without prejudice.
The authors explore how the Buddhist view of women and men is related to the Western views of them, and how they are different. They focus mainly on literature from ancient times and explore them in order of more negative to more positive views of femininity. This work explores women in the religious texts from both a male and emale view, with the male fascination and also alienation of women, and the female perspective picking up on the destruction of the woman’s ability to achieve enlightenment.
Even though Buddhists merged nonegalitarian beliefs with their ovujn scripture that may have had a positive view on women, the Buddhist scriptures are not consistent or enthusiastic about equality of genders. Even though some Buddhists did not believe in separating genders, their ideas were not widespread. Buddhism follows a particular Hindu belief that there is tension between what were assumed to be the two sides of emininity and women: motherly tenderness and destructive pollution.
This work deeply explores the belief of duality of the sexes and how it sometimes clashes with Buddhist beliefs of unity. Monks developed a sense of self- loathing that they Often took Out On Women, because they begged for alms and were dependent upon the very sex that they believed to be violently detrimental to spiritual enlightenment. This work has been especially helpful in my understanding of how feminism and Buddhism interact because it explores that very topic within the actual religious scripture. Peer Reviewed Journals Bewley, Anne R.
Re-membering Spirituality: Use of Sacred Ritual in psychotherapy. “women & Therapy 16. 2-3 (1 995): 201+. ProQuest. web. 24 sept. 2014. This paper discusses ways in which sacred rituals have been repurposed to give women a sense of empowerment and heal them by changing their mindset. It is used to reconstruct interactions and sanctify big events in therapy. Bewley discusses the ways in which feminist ideology marks the value of ritual for women and how ritual can be a transformative process for women and families in therapy.
She also explores the purpose of rituals and why they exist in the first place. Bewley states that rituals were a way for ancient cultures to express their views of life processes, both physical and spiritual. They exist to perpetuate a system of living and interacting which can have enormous implications for everyone in a society. I think it is obvious how religion can influence the treatment of our fellow humans, but this paper gives a factual analysis of why this is so. Reforming the rituals of a society or religion would change how that group viewed life and other groups.
They make a thought process in the minds of practitioners, and when the ritual is changed, the practitioner xperiences a different thought process. In this way, ritual can be used to change the way people view each other, showing the importance that Buddhist rituals have played in shaping Buddhists’ views of women. Women are traditionally viewed as ritually impure, so therefore the practitioners of rituals would come to associate negative thoughts and feelings with women. Hannah, Michelle. “Colliding Gender Imaginaries: Transnational Debates about Full Ordination for Tibetan Buddhist Nuns. Asian Journal of Women’s Studies 18. 4 (201 2): 7-43. Web. 24 sept. 2014. Hannah has written about the interactions between Buddhist communities ade possible by modern technology, and how these interactions can bring conflict. Many of these conflicts arise around the issue of whether or not nuns should be fully ordained, and why the opponents feel that nuns shouldn’t be ordained. Many people argue that nuns cannot be fully ordained because of ritualistic reasons and the original rules pertaining to the issue, but others feel that this is discrimination against women.
Hannah argues that these conflicts arise from the difficulties that modernity, globalization, and gender views have brought about. She has concluded after xtensive research that these problems are not conscious, but come from institutionalized ideas about the differences between the genders. Buddhism has been a religion separated by long distances throughout its entire history, and each of the different groups adopted different attitudes towards nuns and women.
Many nuns feel that the issue of full ordination is not about gender norms, or one genders dominance over another, but the lack of precedent and also the fact that Buddhist nuns and monks are supposed to help other followers find enlightenment. This source is cogent o my topic because it shows that outsiders will not always accurately interpret the situation, as many nuns do not feel that this is a gender issue despite what western feminists think. It might be an issue of institutionalized misogyny, as Hannah seems to think, or they may actually be about discrimination.
Even other Buddhist nuns outside of the Tibetan nuns in the paper thought immediately that this was an issue of discrimination. Hannah points out that western converts to Buddhism immediately jump to the same conclusion because they bring their western worldviews with them into the religion. Different groups of Buddhists even have different ideas about gender and the differences between genders, further confusing the issue. I admit to falling into this group, and Hannah’s paper has made me see that not all nuns think it would be beneficial to be fully ordained. Kim, Yung-Hee. Under the Mandate of Nationalism: Development of Feminist Enterprises in Modern Korea, 1860-1910. ” Journal of Women’s History 7. 4 (1995): 120+. ProQuest. web. 24 sept. 2014. Feminism in Korea developed as a consequence of contact with western nations and in the wake of the growing nationalism from the collapse of the ommunist government. The development of a peasant-based religion called Tonghak helped nurture feminism, as it stressed that humans were as one, and should all be treated equally. Movements such as this continued throughout Korean history, with a focus on examining the Korean society and improving its morals.
This paper is surprisingly hard to adapt to my needs in my research, as it is almost entirely a history of Korean movements and not really anything to do with Buddhism. Tonghak derived in part from Buddhist philosophies, and Buddhism has remained popular in Korea, however. The Koreans seem to ake whichever parts of a movement suit them best and tie them all together to make something new. They have used Buddhism, in part, to develop their own feminism. Munt, Sally R. , and Sharon E. Smith. “Angels and the Dragon King’s Daughter: Gender, Sexuality in Western Buddhist New Religious Movements. Theology and Sexuality 16. 3 (2010): 229-58. ProQuest. web. 24 sept. 2014. Smith and Munt explore how globalization of Buddhism has started to change aspects of it, with special regard to gender and sexuality. There are many new ordained monks and nuns who are converts to the religion, and hey each bring their worldview with them to their sects. The authors explore how gender norms are set up in the groups that contain converts, and how the addition of people of color and other sexualities are affecting Buddhism.
There is definitely a difference in how each gender is treated in eastern Buddhism, but the New Religious Movements discussed in this paper often mix and match different views to suit a particular group’s needs. This brings to light the issue of groups in general society that are othered, such as people Of color and non-heteronormative people. Munt and Smith recognize in this ork that religion is increasingly governed by its followers instead of by ancient traditions, which may discriminate against certain followers.
Religions that did not originate in a follower’s homeland are increasingly becoming paths for counterculture, which further divides them from the religions’ place of origin. This distance provides an opening for new ideas to work their way into the religion, even if they are not upheld by the practitioners from the religions’ place of origin. This can inspire debate and change within the original religion, however. Ok-Sun, An. “A Feminist Choice between the Two Types of Buddhist Compassion. “Asian Journal of Women ‘s Studies 14. 1 (2008): 72+. ProQuest.
Web. 24 Sept. 2014. The author explores how feminism matches up with two types Of Buddhism: early Buddhism and the Mahayana tradition. She specifically focuses on self- sacrifice, and delineates how each sect’s version of equal-regard and sacrifice benefits or harms women. She suggests that qualities like self-devotion, obedience, self-sacrifice, and care are imposed upon women by the patriarchy and not natural qualities of females, as the patriarchy claims. She uses Buddhism as a lens to explore self-sacrifice and care and how it affects ractitioners.
Ok-sun argues that while rejecting common definitions and expressions of care is beneficial to the view of the female gender, being human requires us to care for one another. The definition of care in use is flawed and operates on the subjugation ofwomen, and stems from the duality of sexes. By some Buddhist definitions of compassion, one cannot be compassionate about oneself, which is damaging to a human. Other Buddhist sects view self-care and care of others in equal regard, but we must decide for ourselves which is more beneficial to our society. Owen, Lisa Battaglia.
On Gender Discourse and the Maintenance of Boundaries: A Feminist Analysis of the Bhikkuni Order in India. ” Asian Journal Of Women’s Studies4. 3 (1998): 8. ProQuest. Web. 24 Sept. 2014. Battaglia explores the inequities between monks and nuns in the Bhikkuni order of Buddhism. She studies why the nuns seem to live in poverty while the monks’ needs are met by donations, and why the nuns receive less positive regard in the community. She relates this to why the nuns cannot achieve full ordination or enlightenment in the Bhikkuni order, and discovers that it is due to the signs that mark a Buddha.
She goes on to refute each laim that nuns are inherently inequal to monks, using the Buddhist scriptures. Male biases in Indian society are also dissected, as they played a key role in the discrimination of nuns. The signs that identify a Buddha revolve around sexuality and the male sex organs, with the scripture stating that a Buddha’s sexuality must be sheathed. Battaglia argues that this imagery of a sheath was to emphasize a Buddha’s celibacy and control of sexual urges. In the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra, we are told that all characteristics are illusory, thus distinctions between genders are illusory and nonsensical.
Bhikkuni women’s experiences were also not sufficiently recorded, and what records there are obviously downplay the nun’s accomplishments and emphasize the monk’s achievements. The Bhikkuni texts are all written from a male perspective, which completely ignores a full half of the order. Early Buddhism held women in similar regard to men, so this mistreatment of nuns has resulted from personal biases and not the religion itself. Owen, Lisa Battaglia. ‘Toward a Buddhist Feminism: Mahayana Sutras, Feminist Theory, and the Transformation Of Sex. ” Asian Journal Of Women’s studies 3. (1 997): 8. ProQuest. eb. 24 sept. 2014. Battaglia starts this work speaking about the times when women were left out of histories, particularly in the Buddhist sutras, which contained stories about women that are left out of historical works. She interprets these stories from a feminist viewpoint in order to show that Buddhism can be beneficial to women. She discusses how Buddhism teaches that sex and gender are not real, but then uses them to take power from women to benefit men. Battaglia then raises the question that if sex and gender are not real, what does this say about women?
She wonders if feminists can truly ork for a female cause if there is no such category as female. Androcentrism is a huge barrier for feminism in Buddhism, because the Buddhist sutras contain many stories of women and their religious achievements, but these are often marginalized in favor of men’s stories. This paper is ideal for supporting my topic because it doesn’t seek to compare Buddhist ideologies and western feminist theory, but focuses on what the religion teaches about sex, gender, liberation, and reality.
If there is no real entity of self or female, then there is also no male and putting one image of a human above another is pointless and against the teachings. Battaglia doesn’t try to create conflict Or attack Buddhism for not being feminist enough, but she tries to use research and logic to start a discussion among Buddhist practitioners. This focus on the actual religion and not the people in it is important, because there are so many different sects of Buddhism that it can be hard to discern the original teachings.
This paper also addresses the importance of women in history, which could lend immense strength to the feminist movement if there was sufficient content. Palmer-Mehta, Valerie. “Aung San Suu Kyi and the Rhetoric of Social Protest in Burma. womens studies in communication 32. 2 (2009): 151-79. ProQuest. Palmer-Mehta uses this paper to study Aung San Suu Kyi’s speech at the beginning of the democratic movement in Burma. The author analyzes this speech and Suu Kyi’s skillful usage of care ethics and public memory to make room for a democratic change movement.
She explores how this woman achieved this in the middle of an authoritarian regime that was already in conflict. This work addresses the ways in which women can become leaders even though they may live in adverse conditions; the author explores how Suu Kyi overcame obstacles to make her voice heard. The feminist efforts of non- western women have not received much attention worldwide, but they are making a difference on the homefront. Suu Kyi faced opposition in Burma, because although women had some degree of equality, owning businesses and doing things in the physical realm was seen as spiritually polluting.
Women were already viewed as spiritually inferior to men, so this was extremely damaging to her reputation. This is a key part of my research because it shows what struggles women must face if they want to bring feminism into certain sects of Buddhism. Suu Kyi used the Buddhist belief of are and loving kindness to address the injustices being done to women, and made the point that harm done unintentionally is still doing harm. Suzuki, Shinobu. “Hiratsuka’s “editor’s Introduction to the First Issue of Seito”: Where “feminine Style” Intersects High-Context Communication. Women’s studies in communication 23. 2 (2000): 182-200. ProQuest. web. 24 sept. 2014. The paper discusses the Japanese feminist magazine called “Seito”, or “Bluestocking”, and the editor of this magazine’s first introduction to readers. The author discusses the effect this had on feminism in Japan, and how the ork had the typical feminine style. Feminine style was not developed until after this introduction was written, but current analysis shows that it followed this style. Suzuki explores what she calls high-context communication through a thorough analysis of the Introduction to “Bluestocking’.
She also provides a brief history of Japan. SUZUki says that this first introduction shaped the way feminism played out in Japan, and addressed many glaring inequalities of that society. She says that Hiratsuka meditated and practiced Zen Buddhism until she experienced her true self, or kensho, and felt unified with the universe. Hiratsuka faced many setbacks in this journey, which she came to understand stemmed from the inequalities forced upon her as a female in a restrictive society.
She describes her womanhood as being separated from her personhood, which held her back considerably. This part in particular supports my research, because this woman found enlightenment and recognized that she was being oppressed through the medium of Buddhist meditation. She found a way to unify her identity as a woman and as a person, allowing her to see that these two things should not be separate. Takemaru, Naoko. “Japanese Women’s Perceptions of Sexism in nguage. ” Women and Language 28. 1 (2005):39-48. ProQuest. Web. 4 Sept. 2014 This paper discusses the relationship between self-image and language, and relates data from a study on women and language.