Rita Gross, Buddhism After Patriarchy

Buddhism After PatriarchyI’ve begun to make my way through Rita Gross’s powerful Buddhism After Patriarchy. Here’s one compelling passage:

“In traditional Buddhism, except for the teachings about karma, no major teaching has been used to explain or justify male dominance. As is the case for most major religions most of the time, the core texts present the major teachings in a sex-neutral manner. One would easily form the impression that they describe the human condition and prescribe ways of dealing with it that apply equally to women and men. Many Buddhist teachers reinforce that impression emplicitly or explicitly in their teaching style. Nevertheless, Buddhist institutions, both lay and monastic, are riddled with male dominance. As is so common, we find gender-neutral teachings appropriate to all human beings linked with male dominance of the religious life and institutions.

“Therefore, something more is needed. It is necessary explicitly and directly to tease out the implications about gender issues implicit in the major doctrines of Buddhism and apply those findings both to current Buddhist practices and to contemporary gender questions. The primary theses of this part of this book are that no major Buddhist teaching provides any basis for gender privilege or gender hierarchy and that these doctrines, in fact, mandate gender equality at the same time as they undercut the relevance of gender. Furthermore, it is also my thesis that these major teachings are much more compatible with feminist than with patriarchial manifestations of Buddhism. In other words, to be true to its own vision, Buddhism needs to transcend its androcentrism and patriarchy” (153).

One more time, just because it’s such a beautiful sentence: “In other words, to be true to its own vision, Buddhism needs to transcend its androcentrism and patriarchy.”

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