Feminism in Chinese Buddhism: Patriarchy versus Non-Duality
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Feminism in Chinese Buddhism: Patriarchy versus non-duality
The status of 'the feminine' in Buddhism is one of the most controversial and ambiguous issues in religious studies. On one hand, Buddhism is a religion founded on non-differentiation. One of the goals of meditation is to view all things dispassionately, without becoming attached to the notion of things as good or bad. Material existence, including the body (whether it is male or female) is inherently impermanent. "The issue of women's religious statuses and roles remains more ambiguous and controversial in Buddhism than it is for other world religion… some suggest that the core of Buddhist tenets contains egalitarian…feminist (Gross 1993) tendencies, others point out the perpetuation of male dominance and patriarchy in Buddhist thought…described by a variety of terms, including 'androgyny' 'institutional androcentrism' 'asceticm isogyny,' and 'soteriological inclusiveness." In other words, the ideal of ascetic renunciation of the world is interpreted as a renunciation of the pleasures of the body which includes women. Women are viewed as 'less than' men and more inexorably tied to the material world no matter how fervent their commitment to Buddhism.
How to reconcile these apparently competing traditions of misogyny and inclusiveness? It is important to note that not all Buddhisms are alike, and Buddhism as a philosophy manifested profound changes as it spread throughout the Far East. Its adherents,