Saturday, August 30, 2008

Buddhism and Feminisim

Disclaimer: Readers be warned, this posting contains frequent use of the dirty little F-word.

No, not that one. The other one.


I am a feminist.

Feminism, of course, being defined as equal rights for men and women (and hermaphrodites too. Feminism isn't about man-hating. It isn't about pissed-off lesbians. It isn't about yelling angrily at crowds and public bra burning. (I happen to love my bras). Most feminist are straight, and the bisexual/lesbian one usually aren't angry. The few ones who are angry man-haters aren't feminists, they are women who have issues that they need to face and come to peace with.

But feminism, at times can be very frustrating. It can make you angry. I read the reports of the thousands of girls in Africa who are forced to undergo female genital mutilation in order to become "pure" makes me cry every time. (Female genital mutilation, also called FGM, is the removal of the clitoris, often with a knife or a shard of glass. This often renders the female unable to experience sexual arousal and an orgasm when she reaches sexual maturity.) To read about the wives in India who are burned alive because they didn't produce a male heir will get me absolutely infuriated.
Yes feminists do get angry, usually when we see heinous violations against other women. Can you blame us? We also rejoice. We laugh. We cry and mourn. We learn. We question, constantly. We challenge, we debate, we argue, even with other feminists.

However, I would be lying if I said feminism didn't have a sharp, angry edge to it, anger at all the injustice of the world.
I believe all people should have equal rights, regardless of gender and sex. I get angry when I see an injustice towards other women committed; I get angry when I see injustice to men committed.

Yes, I am a feminist.

But I am also a Buddhist.

Feminism fulfills a need in my life, a need for justice, a need to see the wrongs committed in this world against my fellow humans, and a reason to strive to fix these injustices, to raise awareness. I've taken women studies classes; I've studied the issues, both past and current. I've written papers, given presentations, send letters to the newspaper editor. I know the related issues, and I constantly read up on them, research the facts, view them from all angles. I'm not shy about voicing my opinion of such topics, and I do so in a civil manner. People are more likely to listen to a polite and friendly feminist then a loud and belligerent one.
I live in a state that boasts the highest domestic violence rates in America. Every 1 in 5 women will be raped in my city. At 824, my zip code has three times more registered sex offenders then any other zip code within the city.
Yes, this angers me.

Buddhism calms me; it gives me peace, compassion, and awareness.

It’s kind of like a yin and yang balance. Feminism and Buddhism aren't really much alike, yet in my life they complement and even complete each other. The Buddhist calms the Feminist. The Feminist stimulates the Buddhist, giving it questions, raising awareness and concerns. The Buddhist provides peace while the Feminist provides awareness. I'm having a difficult time explaining this as eloquently as I would like too, but basically there is a balance there, and to me, it is a very beautiful balance.

You get the idea.

I am a big fan of the concept of balance. I don't really believe in a world were there will be supreme peace or constant violence. As long as people exist, there will be acts of violence, as well as acts of compassion and peace. Balance plays a large part in my personal belief system, and I love finding examples of balance in my life. This particular one, the balance of Buddhism and feminism, really excites me as it is a elegant relationship between of two of my biggest passions.


Samantha said...

Wow, couldn't have said it better myself! Nothing wrong with the middle road, balance is far, far healthier than extremes in anything.

In this day and age certain things have to be cut out of my life, but no matter how much I do or don't have, I make certain I support NOW and other organizations fighting the good fight to cut the unnecessary suffering of women anywhere! We are not second or third class citizens, and should not be treated that way.

You've god a good head on your shoulders girl, Rock on! I'm a feminist and a Buddhist too, and I don't see a conflict of any kind between them.

Thanks, this was a great post!


They call him James Ure said...

Is it possible to be male and a feminist? Because I am totally for women's rights. I am for balance like you and I too don't see a conflict between Buddhism and feminism.

Samantha said...

Well, from my perspective, heck yeah it's possible to be male and a feminist. I've known a number of male feminists over the years, each of them fine examples of the male of the species, and ardent feminists! So very cool. Means you're smarter than your average man!

That's just my feeling on the subject, but this isn't my blog.


Inner Oddness said...

Males and feminism is actually a small topic of debate within the feminist community. Most are happy to accept that if a male is for womens rights, and equal rights between the genders, then the title feminist is good enough. Some feminists say that because males will never know (within this patriarchal society) the true scope of a woman's suffering, the term pro-feminist is more appropriate.
Personally, I think that this is nit-picking the issue, and divides the genders more then uniting them, so I prefer the term "feminist", regardless of gender.

They call him James Ure said...

Thanks you too!! Great insights. I do see how some who prefer pro-feminist. I guess I don't mind either label. My main concern is fighting for equality of sex, sexual orientation, race and income level.

They call him James Ure said...

amongst other inequalities and injustices that we face in our supposedly "civil" society.