A Thought for International Women’s Day…

This from Emma Varvaloucas at Tricycle‘s Awake in the World blog:

We American Buddhists like to think of ourselves as free from all of these ugly -ists that afflict the rest of the United States and the world. We don’t like to talk about our sanghas being sexist. We don’t like to talk about our sanghas being racist. We don’t like to talk about our sanghas being agist or homophobic or ableist, because we can’t possibly reconcile the idea that we might be perpetuating harmful societal structures with the image we have of ourselves as being liberal, accepting, all-welcoming Buddhists. Plus, we have the obnoxious habit of breaking out our various Get Out of Jail Free Buddhist Philosophy Cards—Emptiness! Nonduality! Nonattachment!—whenever there’s a thorny moral problem. But if there’s one thing that the Sasaki Situation has reminded us about, it’s that patriarchy and misogyny are alive and well in American Buddhism.

In honor of International Women’s Day, I’d ask that we all look deeply into the ways that we as individuals and as communities might be perpetuating these -ists in our practice. I’m reminded of one friend, who has been practicing the dharma for much longer than I have, who responded to my worries about sexual abuse in Buddhist communities by saying, “Oh, you women practitioners are always worried about that sort of stuff.” Which is to say, let’s also remember: sometimes being flippant about these issues is enough to be actively participating in their continuation.

I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Emma a while back – she’s awesome. Thank you so much for your prophetic voice on this auspicious day, Emma!


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