Images of Women in Early Buddhism and Christian Gnosticism' by Karen Lang: An Analysis

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Lang and Feminism: Women in Buddhism and Christianity The scholarly article "Images of Women in Early Buddhism and Christian Gnosticism" by Karen Lang explores why negative attitudes towards women persisted in early Buddhist and Gnostic communities even while women engaged in important roles in those particular communities. This article takes a truly critical look at why and how these views of women persisted, why they were so negative and the specific nuances of these negative views. In fact, Lang makes a truly astute and comprehensive observation about these negative views of women: Lang illuminates immediately in her article that while many people view Buddhism and Christianity as completely distinct, perhaps even opposite religions, these religions are in fact somewhat evocative of one another, particularly in their treatment of women, their view of the human condition (as being stricken with struggles regarding sensuality), and the necessity of ascetic practices. Lang explores how these Christian and Buddhist authors both "perceived women as less rational than men and more susceptible to the weaknesses of the flesh; their writings vilified women's bodies as 'impure' and 'defective' by nature. These texts associate women with the body and all of its unpleasant functions. In contrast to men, women were symbols of sensual mentality. Liberation for women involved a transformation of the female body and a repudiation of their female nature" (Lang, 95). This aspect of

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