Buddhism, Sexuality, and Gender

Buddhism, Sexuality, and Gender

Buddhism, Sexuality, and Gender

Buddhism, Sexuality, and Gender

Synopsis

This book explores historical, textual, and social questions relating to the position and experience of women and gay people in the Buddhist world from India and Tibet to Sri Lanka, China, and Japan. It focuses on four key areas: Buddhist history, contemporary culture, Buddhist symbols, and homosexuality, and it covers Buddhism's entire history, from its origins to the present day. The result of original and innovative research, the author offers new perspectives on the history of the attitudes toward, and of the self-perception of, women in both ancient and modern Buddhist societies. He explores key social issues such as abortion, he examines the use of rhetoric and symbols in Buddhist texts and cultures, and he discusses the neglected subject of Buddhism and homosexuality."

Excerpt

Although the last decade has seen the appearance of several works that deal in part with issues concerning the place of women in the religious traditions of Asia and some that deal specifically with women in Buddhism, to date little scholarly work in the field of Buddhist Studies has employed gender as a variable to elucidate the dynamics of religious symbols, philosophical concepts, and social groups. What is more, except for very cursory studies that include Buddhism as one among other world religious traditions, there is a tremendous dearth of scholarship relating to Buddhism and sexuality in general and to homosexuality in particular. A great deal of work has been done concerning the issues of gender and sexuality in the context of Western religions. Only recently, however, has the Western scholarly community come to realize that much of the methodology of gender studies is as relevant to the Asian religious traditions as to the West, that the Asian traditions contain a great wealth of material deserving of analysis, and that this material is not only interesting in its own right but also a comparative springboard for more general and theoretical discussions.

The essays in this collection focus on issues related to gender and sexuality in different Buddhist traditions. They prod us to think not only of the status of women in the Buddhist tradition, something they all address to a greater or lesser extent, but on a wide range of questions related to the more general notion of gender, culturally constructed concepts of maleness and femaleness. In having gender and sexuality as their primary analytic variables, the contributors to this volume offer a perspective on Buddhism that is either frequently overlooked or else not treated with the scholarly rigor it deserves.

Gender Studies as an academic discipline maintains that the concepts of gender and sexuality are crucial variables in the understanding of the world in which human beings live and interact. In its most general form the claim is that the myriad expressions of human . . .

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