Tag Archives: Feminism and Religion

Gender and Human Rights Session at Manchester Buddhist Convention 2013

By Oxana Poberejnaia,

blogger for Feminism and Religion

I am grateful to all participants of the Gender and Human Rights session at MBC 2013 for a friendly yet thoughtful discussion. We had both sexes present in the room, and all ages (from 3: thank you, Aki, for top behaviour!) and up.

I had been preparing for the session using the book

Buddhism After Patriarchy
A Feminist History, Analysis, and Reconstruction of Buddhism
Buddhism After Patriarchy
Click on image to enlarge

Rita M. Gross – Author

and recommended it to everyone at The Convention.

My goal was, as I laid it at the beginning of the session, to facilitate inner searching for each of us around such issues as: “Is any organised religion compatible with Feminism?” “Are we happy with the current situation in Buddhism regarding women?” “Is Buddhism part of the problem or does it offer solutions?” and “What should we do next?”

I also hoped that through conversation, new common insights would arise and solutions to common problems found. And indeed they were. For instance, I have found another person who also dislikes this common place separation into “Western” and “Eastern” ways of thinking or doing things. I also believe that we now live in a global world and deal with common problems.

Buddhism, we believe, changes every time it enters a new culture, and feminism is something that Buddhism is absorbing now, with various degrees of success, but this process is inevitable.

I also liked how we drew parallels between our Buddhist practice and practising Feminism. For instance, one is allowed mistakes on both paths. Also, just you cannot be too mindful: it is best to be mindful at all times, it is also preferable to be Feminist at all times – whatever it means for each individual. And if it means challenges every sexist joke told around you, then so be it.

We also discussed how we ourselves chose our Buddhist tradition, based on our belief about what’s right regarding gender equality, and also how we can work within our traditions for gender equality. Questions were asked if a tradition that started very much as a patriarchal one can evolve into a more equality-supporting one.

A thought was expressed that Buddhist practise transcends all mundane matters, including gender divisions. This is undoubtedly encouraging to us, particularly because we as Buddhist practitioners know from our own experience that we are not defined by any conditioned characteristic, including gender. This inner knowing helps me a lot in my Feminist activities.

 

Gender and Human Rights session at MBC 2013

By Oxana Poberejnaia

At Manchester Buddhist Convention 2013, “Intelligent Compassion”, I am going to lead an informal discussion around issues of Feminism and Buddhism, in a session entitled Gender and Human Rights, 12.45-13.30.

I led a similar session last year, and we had a really interesting discussion. You can read about it here.

Since then, I have started writing monthly posts for an international multi-author blog “Feminism and Religion” (affiliated with the Women’s Studies and Religion program at Claremont Graduate University) I enjoy sharing views with feminist bloggers from many religions or none. Very often we have fascinating discussions through commenting on each other’s posts.

My first three posts were based on my call for discussion for last year’s Convention and on the discussion at the session.

Are Buddhist Women Happy? Part I and Part II

Menstruation for Buddhist Women

I believe that mindfulness of menstrual cycle must be included into the Four Foundations of Mindfulness practices for Buddhist women.

In Blindness of the Gals I discuss inability or unwillingness of Western Buddhist women to see gender inequality inherent in both their society and in their Buddhist institutions and texts.

Mindfulness of Putting Ourselves Down is about the need I feel to constantly monitor my action and reasons behind them to check if I am myself contributing to my own oppression and to the culture of patriarchy in general.

Cultural Conditions and Spiritual Subtleties was a response to some of the questions that fellow bloggers asked in relation to my post Blindness of the Gals. It dealt with how experiencing different cultures and practising meditation are alike in that they allow us to see our personal reality and social reality in perspective, to se that they are not a given, stable “thing”, but rather a process that can be directed one way or another.

At the session at MBC 2013, I would be happy to listen to your views in these and other subjects.

A little bit about me: I started practising Buddhist meditation at The University of Manchester Buddhist Society in 2002. I practised and went on retreats with various traditions such as Samatha, Zen and Vipassana before formally taking the Three Refuges with Western Chan Fellowship. I hold PhD in Government from The University of Manchester and a Postgraduate Certificate in Buddhist Studies from The University of Sunderland.

At the moment, I practice Buddhist meditation while at the same time exploring the Sacred Feminine. I write poetry and prose, paint watercolours. I also play and teach frame drum. My works can be found on my website.

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