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God-dictated oppression of women?
September 17th, 2013 (February 2nd, 2015)
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illustration (attribution, if any possible, is at the end of the article)

God-dictated oppression of women?

What to say to a man who talks of his insight about the oppression of women, while nonetheless clinging to notions of 'moral' obligations that men don't comply with (e.g. around sexual faithfulness)? What to say when his insight is about the man-made nature (instead of God-dictated nature) of this repression?

Last time I checked, Eve was naked and God had no issue with it. Adam had no issue either, until  he took himself way too seriously (Genesis 3:7, or Surah Al-A'raf 7:20)!

It is quite simple: when you are overwhelmed by sensuality, (it is because) you have lost contact with Wisdom.
If you're in contact with Wisdom, sensuality or viewing someone else naked doesn't drive you mad, upset, ashamed, 'weird', oppressive or violent! Nudity is only 'natural', not shameful, in wise eyes.

After eating the forbidden fruit, both man and woman started blaming others instead of taking responsibility for their acts. If you read theologists, rather than the initial mistake, the blame of others —i.e. the denial of responsibility— was what Adam and Eve had to be punished for: lack of ownership means no lesson learnt and no possible forgiveness. So don't blame others, in particular under the excuse of enacting God's command: keep your place, you're neither God nor a messenger of God! Look at your own sins, let God judge others!

A woman does not "ask for it" and should not be oppressed by others (men or women, even in 'minor' ways e.g. peer-pressure) because others lost contact with Wisdom…


In buddhist terms, all beings have buddha-nature. No one is inherently separate from ultimate Wisdom due to gender (or sexual orientation, while we're at it).
Discrimination against women is a sign of ignorance, and often a lack of generosity and of compassion (or 'loving-kindness'). Discrimination of any kind is in direct contradiction with the eightfold path's "right intention," "right speech," "right action" and "right views."

Anyone interpreting Buddhism in sexist terms should re-read the Canon in full… not just the summaries and commentaries supposedly explaining the Canon but actually distorting it to fit the social conventions of the times. There were many arhats with female bodies, and some of the greatest bodhisattvas appear as female!

'Buddha-nature' is a Mahāyāna expression, but the Pāḷi Canon still does not support anything else [If you want a Theravādin confirmation —with precise references and analyses, not just personal opinions,— please read e.g. chapter 7 of "Great Disciples of the Buddha —their lives, their works, their legacy" by Nyamaponika Thera and Hellmuth Hecker, edited by Bhikkhu Bodhi, or check Bhikkhu Bodhi's contribution in "Dignity and Discipline : Reviving Full Ordination for Buddhist Nuns" edited by Thea Mohr and Ven. Jampa Tsedroen].

The later, sexist interpretations of Buddhism (Theravadin or otherwise) are not expressions of Wisdom. No more than the later, sexist interpretations of the Abrahamic religions are expressions of Wisdom. Ultimate Wisdom never had any problem with women, covered or not.


#genderequality   #Buddhism  
painting: Eve offering the apple to Adam in the garden of Eden, © Lucas Cranach der Ältere