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Re: [U-Zendo] Gender bias in Zen

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  • Weasel Tracks
    LouAnne Jaeger wrote: OH!  So this is Vic s fault!  And he hasn t chimed in again after starting things off. Bad WT!  BAD! Things have heated up so nicely
    Message 1 of 32 , Apr 12, 2010
      LouAnne Jaeger wrote:
      OH!  So this is Vic's fault!  And he hasn't chimed in again after starting things off.
      Bad WT!  BAD!
      Things have heated up so nicely that I haven't had a chance!

      There were two separate occurrences of accusations of gender bias that intruded on my awareness recently. One involves the woman Pat mentioned, Grace Schireson, and the other is a reader of Chan magazine who complained about bias in the magazine and the organization it represents, Master Sheng-yen's Dharma Drum.

      It seemed to me that Schireson might be seeing more bias than there is. I did not think I would want to read her book, but it ended up in the household, and I'm almost halfway through it. I'm enjoying the biographies of Buddhist women in the book, but I think Schireson's arguments thus far have problems with coherence. I have not yet gotten to cencrete complaints about present-day Zen, though.
       What struck me as odd was that she complained about sanghas where women have shared positions of great authority with men, and so I am on guard that she sees things through too hot a bias herself.

      The other instance caused much reflection and discussion within Dharma Drum. Considering how many members are Chinese, it would be amazing if gender equity was its actual norm, but, as a whole, the organization is heading in that direction. Maggie would be the person better suited to comment on that.

      My own experience is that I haven't seen any instances of gender bias in the sanghas I have been intimate with. My first group, the old Soto Zen Buddhist Temple of Chicago, had mostly guys in it, and we wondered about that. Perhaps it was just the times. Nowadays, it seems that women are often, if not usually, a majority at meetings. Perhaps I've just been lucky in the groups I've associated with, as I really do think gender makes very little difference within them. Recently, I got an email newsletter from Boundless Way, giving the minutes of a meeting in February. Hadn't read them yet, but after Pat related what her acquaintance said, I got curious. They were compiled by someone I don't know, named Alan.

      But Pat made an excellant point -- how much would I be aware of gender bias, given I am not a target of it. I simply can't be aware of what I am not aware of, although that can change. One way I can be made aware of things I'm not aware of by listening to the experience of other people. Thus my question. Still, I have known women  who saw gender bias in the actions of men directed against them, when such actions had entirely different motives.

      So . . . I'm still listening.

         ---WT
    • Lee
      ... WT, If a person doesn t have these social skills, you might not be able to understand what is going on around you. We all have different levels of
      Message 32 of 32 , Apr 12, 2010
        On Mon, Apr 12, 2010 at 8:26 PM, Weasel Tracks <weaseltrax@...> wrote:


        But Pat made an excellant point -- how much would I be aware of gender bias, given I am not a target of it. I simply can't be aware of what I am not aware of, although that can change. One way I can be made aware of things I'm not aware of by listening to the experience of other people. Thus my question. Still, I have known women  who saw gender bias in the actions of men directed against them, when such actions had entirely different motives.

           WT,  

                  If a person doesn't have these social skills, you might not be able to understand what is going on around you. 

          We all have different levels of sensitivity to our social environment.    If you don't have the antennae, then you have to get the social information by report, from folks around you.

                     In the situation of the young woman apprentice I shared earlier, I experienced even stronger bias from the old craftsmen for different reasons.   One, being my age (I was 46 when I started.)   All the Japanese apprentices were 22.  I was the oldest person to have ever apprenticed there.    So I  often noticed bias against the young woman happened in my presence.  .The the thing of it is, if you are not open to what is happening, it is easy to let it fly below your radar.
             As bad as this young woman's treatment was, she freely applied the group bias against me.   It is a common phenomenon.   Experiencing bias does not automatically make you more sensitive when it is done to others, actually, scapegoating frequently happens.

                      So, awareness is necessary.  But also intention.   Without intention or bodhimind, we simply become better thieves.

        --
        Lee Love in Minneapolis
        http://mingeisota.blogspot.com/

        "Ta tIr na n-óg ar chul an tI—tIr dlainn trina chéile"—that is, "The land of eternal youth is behind the house, a beautiful land fluent within itself." -- John O'Donohue
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