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Thread: Zen Women: Chapter 2, Pages 11 - 20

  1. #1

    Zen Women: Chapter 2, Pages 11 - 20

    Hi everyone! We will be moving on to the first part of Chapter 2, if everyone is ok with that.

    Reminder: the "three sacred sentences" practice does not have to be applied here

    In this chapter, Schireson introduces some of the stories that have been preserved about women participating in Zen through the ages. These women tend to fall into some distinct categories. The first two types we will discuss here are the “Nuns Who Could Be Men,” including Moshan Liaoran and Iron Grinder Liu, and the “Token Nuns,” including Zongchi and Miaoxin.

    Schireson asks a key question on page 16: Did Zen create Iron Grinders, or did Iron Grinders gravitate to Zen practice? Are women who are naturally “tough” attracted to Zen, or does Zen force women to shed their feminine, nurturing characteristics and become "tough?" Is what we perceive as “toughness” an essential aspect of Zen practice, or does “softness” have a place in practice as well?

    We are lucky to have some women’s stories preserved through Dogen’s writings. Did Dogen do justice to women such as Zongchi and Miaoxin?

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  2. #2
    "Toughness" I think is sometimes confused with size, muscle mass and aggression, but I like to think it is more like "perseverance," which is Right Effort; of that, women have plenty, and are also willing to share. In Paula Arai's study of nuns in Japanese monasticism, she fills many pages with anecdotes of perseverance, in particular the story of the abbess who, during the firebombings, ran through the glass-littered streets barefoot to report the status of the abbey. To me that's toughness; though the abbess might have simply said of it that one must simply do what one must do. _()_

    gassho
    shonin sat today and lah
    I'm a visiting unsui from Bird Haven Zendo. Take what I say with a box of salt. Mmm!

  3. #3
    I like what Shonin said about toughness meaning perseverance. I don't know if Zen/Chan as it was practiced at the time these stories took place would have attracted women who had little softness, but for me, practice helps me soften, although it also helps me to persevere.

    Gassho,
    Onkai
    Sat/lah
    On (Warm)
    Kai (Sea)

  4. #4
    Bonus question (that just occurred to me after reading these comments ) Does being soft sometimes take toughness?

    Nurturing patience often takes self-awareness, self-control, wisdom and skill. “Macho toughness” can be a knee-jerk cop out for many. However, gentle, thoughtful disciplinary toughness can also be a skill.

    I feel the same as others here, of all genders, in that I often learn and grow much faster in a nurturing environment than in a boot-camp like one. (Although I will choose boot camp for myself sometimes when I know I am up for the challenge and need some ego checking). One size does not fit all or every situation.

    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday


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    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  5. #5
    Hi all

    Just to say I have done a recording of the Dogen fascicle Raihai-Tokuzui (Bowing to the Attainment of the Marrow) which is mentioned a few times in this chapter, if anyone wishes to listen. It is quite notable for its tone of gender equality in 13th century Japan.



    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

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    The words enquiring, resiliance and perseverance sit better with me these days than toughness. I still think of toughness in regards to the life I've stepped away from. I think these words encapsulate the toughness Schireson talks about when talking about Women seeking out the Dharma. I think that seeking the Dharma required these characteristics and these characteristics were needed in order to survive let alone demand their voices be heard. So I don't think Zen created toughness, nor do I believe that toughness was required by Women to practice Zen. I know it's semantics but hey...

    I think we're lucky that Dogen preserved some Zen Women's stories and although he appears to promote Women's Zen practice I'm not convinced that this actually occurred upon his arrival back in Japan. From what little I know let alone understand about Dogen is that he seemed a man of contradictions. Perhaps due to the socio-political climate or perhaps due to the Japanese Buddhist climate at the time.

    As for the bonus question "does being soft sometimes take toughness"? Absolutely! Toughness AND a shedload of discipline for this new practitioner. I sometimes feel pressure to re-engage with my previous life and I honestly believe that if it wasn't for my reputation and things I've done I would not be able to explore 'softness' and have such an easy time of walking away. In saying this it's important to divulge that I was terribly critical of people who talked the talk but didn't walk the walk, and critical of those I described as "radical until they finished university" or "liberals playing at being radical". In other words I'm an arse.

    Gassho
    Onka
    ST

  7. #7
    I agree that toughness might better be described as perseverance, maybe courage and confidence. It must have taken quite a bit of backbone and an independent spirit to step out of the conventional life expected of women. Indeed, to dare make decisions for oneself instead of behaving dutifully and obediently was a radical act. We don’t really know much about their lives or how many women were practicing.

    Being soft does take toughness. To be vulnerable, to trust and have faith in one’s teacher and practice, to be willing to receive correction: one must be open. And it takes toughness to be soft enough to take in the suffering of the world. I am reading “A Bigger Sky” by Pamela Weiss. In it she recounts an anecdote about Dogen, but unfortunately does not cite the source. She writes that he told his successor, Tetsu Gikai, that understanding the dharma wasn’t enough, that he had to go beyond and cultivate robai-shin, the mind of great compassion. Weiss says robai-shin means “grandmotherly mind.” That is certainly an image of softness.
    Gassho,
    Krista
    st/lah

  8. #8
    I've spent a bit of time in 'tough' environments and it always seemed that those who felt they had to display a macho persona were often hiding vulnerabilities they hadn't made peace with. Those people who knew and were truly comfortable with themselves weren't afraid to appear soft, nurturing or caring. So I think there's a difference between being soft and being vulnerable.

    I agree with Shonin in that I've always perceived 'toughness' with endurance and perseverance. So maybe to be soft we have to endure the tough process of truly getting to know our selves.

    I'm not sure of tough women were attracted to zen or if zen made them tough, maybe a bit of both.

    Gassho,

    Heiso

    StLah

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    Quote Originally Posted by Heiso View Post
    I've spent a bit of time in 'tough' environments and it always seemed that those who felt they had to display a macho persona were often hiding vulnerabilities they hadn't made peace with. Those people who knew and were truly comfortable with themselves weren't afraid to appear soft, nurturing or caring. So I think there's a difference between being soft and being vulnerable.

    I agree with Shonin in that I've always perceived 'toughness' with endurance and perseverance. So maybe to be soft we have to endure the tough process of truly getting to know our selves.

    I'm not sure of tough women were attracted to zen or if zen made them tough, maybe a bit of both.

    Gassho,

    Heiso

    StLah
    Gassho Onka
    ST

  10. #10
    My own thoughts on whether Dogen did justice to the women preserved in his writings: yes, regarding THOSE women.... but no, regarding women in general.

    It's been interesting to watch the circles my mind does around this question. It's the same circles our minds do when we ask ourselves if we are racist. As has been discussed in many recent contemporary writings on racism, we are generally resistant to admitting our own racial and gender biases. IMO, if we are to even take the first step toward understanding these issues, we have to reach the point where we can acknowledge our personal biases--even if as women we have certain biases against women, or members of our own race. The biases are built in from our earliest experiences.

    So, my first instinct is to be thankful to Dogen for at least writing women into the history with no diminishment of their abilities. I am especially grateful to find out about Zongchi, a full dharma heir of Bodhidharma! But I think Dogen also probably did what we all do to some degree today, which is politely excuse ourselves from addressing the different needs of individuals due to race, gender, or disability. To a degree we all will embrace "token" inclusion of people with different needs as long as they conform to our expectations, but we won't go as far as to transform the environment according to what their needs truly are.... which is what it would take to really acknowledge that they and their inherent needs are "equally okay." So including women as "equals" in Zen practice is great, but what if Zen practice has to bend a little in order to accommodate what women (or people of different races or physical abilities) need?

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jakuden View Post
    So including women as "equals" in Zen practice is great, but what if Zen practice has to bend a little in order to accommodate what women (or people of different races or physical abilities) need?
    Bingo! I think you hit the nail on the head, and that same sentiment could be said to be true for all other areas of life/society where equality is not yet actualized. It's easy enough to say that all genders/lives/etc. matter, but to truly actualize that belief in every one of our actions and life choices is something else entirely.

    Keeping our focus on Zen practice though, what restrictions/obstacles still stand in the way of having a truly equitable practice environment?

    For example, should we start by closely examining many of the Zen terms commonly used such as "master"? I've seen the term used to refer to contemporary teachers of either gender, yet it carries the historical connotation of referring to a male "expert". The term "mistress", while sometimes used as the female equivalent in other contexts, carries its own questionable baggage. I may be focusing too much on semantics, but language is a powerful tool, and a simple change in word choice can make folks feel either accepted/welcomed or ostracized.

    Thank you Jakuden, as you've really got me thinking about this.

    Gassho,
    Rob

    -st-



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  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Jakuden View Post
    My own thoughts on whether Dogen did justice to the women preserved in his writings: yes, regarding THOSE women.... but no, regarding women in general.

    It's been interesting to watch the circles my mind does around this question. It's the same circles our minds do when we ask ourselves if we are racist. As has been discussed in many recent contemporary writings on racism, we are generally resistant to admitting our own racial and gender biases. IMO, if we are to even take the first step toward understanding these issues, we have to reach the point where we can acknowledge our personal biases--even if as women we have certain biases against women, or members of our own race. The biases are built in from our earliest experiences.

    So, my first instinct is to be thankful to Dogen for at least writing women into the history with no diminishment of their abilities. I am especially grateful to find out about Zongchi, a full dharma heir of Bodhidharma! But I think Dogen also probably did what we all do to some degree today, which is politely excuse ourselves from addressing the different needs of individuals due to race, gender, or disability. To a degree we all will embrace "token" inclusion of people with different needs as long as they conform to our expectations, but we won't go as far as to transform the environment according to what their needs truly are.... which is what it would take to really acknowledge that they and their inherent needs are "equally okay." So including women as "equals" in Zen practice is great, but what if Zen practice has to bend a little in order to accommodate what women (or people of different races or physical abilities) need?

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday

    Well said. Thank you.
    Krista
    st/lah

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    Quote Originally Posted by RobD View Post
    Bingo! I think you hit the nail on the head, and that same sentiment could be said to be true for all other areas of life/society where equality is not yet actualized. It's easy enough to say that all genders/lives/etc. matter, but to truly actualize that belief in every one of our actions and life choices is something else entirely.

    Keeping our focus on Zen practice though, what restrictions/obstacles still stand in the way of having a truly equitable practice environment?

    For example, should we start by closely examining many of the Zen terms commonly used such as "master"? I've seen the term used to refer to contemporary teachers of either gender, yet it carries the historical connotation of referring to a male "expert". The term "mistress", while sometimes used as the female equivalent in other contexts, carries its own questionable baggage. I may be focusing too much on semantics, but language is a powerful tool, and a simple change in word choice can make folks feel either accepted/welcomed or ostracized.

    Thank you Jakuden, as you've really got me thinking about this.

    Gassho,
    Rob

    -st-



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    Aside from physical access and the physical and emotional accommodation of folk with different abilities I think that language is an area that needs the most work because it's always evolving. I'll use myself as an example... I was assigned male at birth, never felt male, was never interested having a male/female rship but was always only attracted to female identifying folk. I transitioned from assigned male to female/non-binary in my late 30's. For all intents and purposes I dress and act in pretty masculine ways yet feel physically unwell when I'm misgendered and use she/her and they/them as my pronouns. Am I female? Yes I am but I guarantee a good number of our Sangha sisters, brothers and others would disagree. Zen says leave identities/politics at the Zendo door but I disagree. Politics is life. Literally every minute of our day is affected by politics and that will always extend to the inside of a Zendo. If a spotlight is not shone on difference, difference remains silenced, dismissed or erased. So any aspect of Zen that is male-centric needs to be looked at and revised. Treeleaf IMHO is leading the way but still has a loooong way to go. Thankfully we have Priest's and Unsui who will listen and continue to adapt.
    Gassho
    Onka
    ST

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Onka View Post
    Aside from physical access and the physical and emotional accommodation of folk with different abilities I think that language is an area that needs the most work because it's always evolving. I'll use myself as an example... I was assigned male at birth, never felt male, was never interested having a male/female rship but was always only attracted to female identifying folk. I transitioned from assigned male to female/non-binary in my late 30's. For all intents and purposes I dress and act in pretty masculine ways yet feel physically unwell when I'm misgendered and use she/her and they/them as my pronouns. Am I female? Yes I am but I guarantee a good number of our Sangha sisters, brothers and others would disagree. Zen says leave identities/politics at the Zendo door but I disagree. Politics is life. Literally every minute of our day is affected by politics and that will always extend to the inside of a Zendo. If a spotlight is not shone on difference, difference remains silenced, dismissed or erased. So any aspect of Zen that is male-centric needs to be looked at and revised. Treeleaf IMHO is leading the way but still has a loooong way to go. Thankfully we have Priest's and Unsui who will listen and continue to adapt.
    Gassho
    Onka
    ST
    Hi Onka,

    Agreed. Our word choice is a natural reflection of our opinions and biases, which have typically been conditioned by so many aspects of our lives (yes, even including our political views). I think that is why it can be so hard for us to change our ways when it comes to language.

    I've struggled myself with gender-related terms going as far back as French class in high school. I still, to this day, don't understand why some languages insist on gender-specific pronouns and articles for inanimate objects. More recently though, I've been blessed to have my son, who came out several years ago, as he has provided me with a far better understanding and appreciation of the less common gender-related terms that are slowly gaining a greater foothold in the English language (non-binary, gender-fluid, etc.). As I learn more, I can't help but think about how true human equality must extend beyond the simple duality of male/female. But for the sake of this book discussion, I should probably continue to focus on the role/status of women in Zen.

    And while I do agree that it is impossible to separate our politics entirely from our interactions here in the Zendo, I also agree with others that we should try to avoid overtly bringing our politics in with us. That balance can be difficult to maintain at times, but it's worth striving for in order to maintain the appropriate practice atmosphere here.

    That said, I'm always up for a side trip to the local cafe to openly discuss politics, religion, and every other topic that usually gets one in hot water. I don't like to argue the topics, but I love learning more about why folks believe in the things they do. If we were all the same, life would be terribly boring.

    Gassho,
    Rob

    -st-

  15. #15
    Appropriate word choice is a good first step and still where we are as a society in many respects. I note that at Zen Mountain Monastery they have replaced the terms "Monk" and "Nun" with the term "Monastic."

    However, the major obstacles I have come to identify so far from personal experience are more subtle but deeper and more important, IMO. For many women, communication and relationships are "hardwired" to be the priority in the brain. It has been studied and shown to be so from early ages and to a large extent even free of environmental influence. This is not always considered valuable by societies in general, and in fact has often been viewed as a weakness. Teaching with a focus on the feelings of the student and communicating in a more sympathetic and nurturing tone perhaps come more naturally to women, and are being slowly (reluctantly?) adopted in some Western Zen circles.

    Another obstacle is the need of women to be caretakers, especially of family. This is applying more to men nowadays, but still is far from being equal. If it were not for Treeleaf, I would not be able to be part of a Sangha because it would require too much time away from family. Families with small children can freely go to a Christian church on Sundays, but practicing Zen is very difficult! Women are also usually the primary caretakers of older family members if they are present in a household.

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

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    You're right about relationships and communication Jakuden. I went to a Zendo for a couple of months before my own disabilities prevented me and found it really strange that folk arrived, sat, and then left with few words, greetings or farewells. I gathered that they must form connections on their yearly retreats which I could neither afford to go to financially or because of my caregiver responsibilities of my partner. And yes, without Treeleaf I wouldn't have a Zendo, perhaps not even a Zen practice, but I definitely wouldn't have a Sangha as warm and diverse as I do.
    Gassho
    Onka
    ST

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Jakuden View Post
    For many women, communication and relationships are "hardwired" to be the priority in the brain. .... Another obstacle is the need of women to be caretakers, especially of family. This is applying more to men nowadays, but still is far from being equal. If it were not for Treeleaf, I would not be able to be part of a Sangha because it would require too much time away from family. ..... Women are also usually the primary caretakers of older family members if they are present in a household.
    Gassho2, meian st lh



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    Howdy folks
    For some time, perhaps since I joined Treeleaf I've referred to folk as Sisters, Brothers, and Others so as to be as inclusive as possible.
    I'm not sure why but I'm finding the reference to "female" and "women" a little alienating. Perhaps it's just me and the negative life experiences I've had or perhaps others as well but I like to make it understood that transwomen ARE women. Also, many transphobic twits use female as a biological weapon to alienate and negate transwomen. For this reason I personally prefer all women to be regarded as "female identifying". After all, some assigned at birth females are transmen and identify as they are... men.
    I don't want to derail this reading and I don't think I am but if we are talking about women in Zen we MUST talk about language and the understanding that transwomen in Zen are indeed women in Zen.
    Gassho
    Onka
    ST/flew the Anarcho-Queer flag high

    We must acknowledge women with different abilities too. Anything that is written as Women in Zen generally/mostly assumes able bodied and female assigned at birth as the definition of women.
    Last edited by Onka; 08-10-2020 at 03:33 AM.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Onka View Post
    Howdy folks
    For some time, perhaps since I joined Treeleaf I've referred to folk as Sisters, Brothers, and Others so as to be as inclusive as possible.
    I'm not sure why but I'm finding the reference to "female" and "women" a little alienating. Perhaps it's just me and the negative life experiences I've had or perhaps others as well but I like to make it understood that transwomen ARE women. Also, many transphobic twits use female as a biological weapon to alienate and negate transwomen. For this reason I personally prefer all women to be regarded as "female identifying". After all, some assigned at birth females are transmen and identify as they are... men.
    I don't want to derail this reading and I don't think I am but if we are talking about women in Zen we MUST talk about language and the understanding that transwomen in Zen are indeed women in Zen.
    Gassho
    Onka
    ST/flew the Anarcho-Queer flag high

    We must acknowledge women with different abilities too. Anything that is written as Women in Zen generally/mostly assumes able bodied and female assigned at birth as the definition of women.
    Yes, almost all the Buddhist literature we encounter will assume able-bodied and traditional concepts of gender. But it did not seem quite right to use “women” even though that is ostensibly the subject, now I know why, thank you “female-identifying” it will be henceforth.

    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday


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    清 道 寂田
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    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jakuden View Post
    Yes, almost all the Buddhist literature we encounter will assume able-bodied and traditional concepts of gender. But it did not seem quite right to use “women” even though that is ostensibly the subject, now I know why, thank you “female-identifying” it will be henceforth.

    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday


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    I humbly suggest that my comments be regarded as seeds planted rather than demands placed.
    Gassho
    Onka
    ST

  21. #21
    Interesting topic. People who don't know my gender online often assume i am male because of how I write. Never really sure why this is, but it has happened frequently for as long as I have participated in discussions.

    The irony is that i still don't view myself as a gender -- personally I have never understood how a gender is supposed to feel like. I am just me. I never did understand the distinction, although I know that my brain functions differently from most male brains, but I get along much better with men than with women. I do not fit (and never have) assumed gender behavior norms and this still causes me loads of trouble in my age group and older. The younger generations don't subscribe so much to identity politics, maybe.

    Sisters, brothers and others ..... I still consider myself an "other" -- I don't think about gender or specific sexuality. If our society didn't have to define us and box us, then i could simply exist and be drawn to qualities without assigning a gender and a physique. But our society is not set up that way, we still have to tick the boxes and choose a role. I dislike the gender question on forms, etc, because it doesn't fit me, and it's required. I give the expected answer because systems aren't designed for nonbinary challenges. Then they still ask me questions that don't apply and I give confusing answers.

    Gassho, meian st lh

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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Meian View Post
    Interesting topic. People who don't know my gender online often assume i am male because of how I write. Never really sure why this is, but it has happened frequently for as long as I have participated in discussions.

    The irony is that i still don't view myself as a gender -- personally I have never understood how a gender is supposed to feel like. I am just me. I never did understand the distinction, although I know that my brain functions differently from most male brains, but I get along much better with men than with women. I do not fit (and never have) assumed gender behavior norms and this still causes me loads of trouble in my age group and older. The younger generations don't subscribe so much to identity politics, maybe.

    Sisters, brothers and others ..... I still consider myself an "other" -- I don't think about gender or specific sexuality. If our society didn't have to define us and box us, then i could simply exist and be drawn to qualities without assigning a gender and a physique. But our society is not set up that way, we still have to tick the boxes and choose a role. I dislike the gender question on forms, etc, because it doesn't fit me, and it's required. I give the expected answer because systems aren't designed for nonbinary challenges. Then they still ask me questions that don't apply and I give confusing answers.

    Gassho, meian st lh

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    Gassho
    Onka
    SG

  23. #23
    I'll agree with "perseverance" as a term that makes more sense. When I first started reading about these "macho tough-guys" I was picturing Hulk Hogan or 80's era Arnold in a rakusu. "Tough" as in "unwavering tenacity" fits a little better with my mental image of historical Zen masters. That being said, it would take someone of tremendous character to become a Zen master, whichever gender. Of course in that time period gender roles were far more traditional, so while all genders required work, I think those female-identifying students had a much harder time of it. Early in the chapter it refers to a study of how female-identifying people are perceived in corporate America, and how if they're anything other than stereotypical "mother, pet, or seductress" they're seen as a monster. While it's perfectly normal for male-identifying people to have an entire spectrum of personalities, female-identifying persons are required to have just a few. I look forward to more reading, but I may lurk comments more than participate. I feel somewhat ignorant about this topic, but that's why I'm trying to learn. The last thing I want to do is offend anybody, and I thank you all for the discussion.

    Gassho,

    Joshua
    SatToday

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Onka View Post
    Howdy folks
    For some time, perhaps since I joined Treeleaf I've referred to folk as Sisters, Brothers, and Others so as to be as inclusive as possible.
    I'm not sure why but I'm finding the reference to "female" and "women" a little alienating. Perhaps it's just me and the negative life experiences I've had or perhaps others as well but I like to make it understood that transwomen ARE women. Also, many transphobic twits use female as a biological weapon to alienate and negate transwomen. For this reason I personally prefer all women to be regarded as "female identifying". After all, some assigned at birth females are transmen and identify as they are... men.
    I don't want to derail this reading and I don't think I am but if we are talking about women in Zen we MUST talk about language and the understanding that transwomen in Zen are indeed women in Zen.
    Gassho
    Onka
    ST/flew the Anarcho-Queer flag high

    We must acknowledge women with different abilities too. Anything that is written as Women in Zen generally/mostly assumes able bodied and female assigned at birth as the definition of women.
    I appreciate this discussion about language, especially inclusive language. In my mind, I include trans women as women when I say women, but I guess I type women out of convenience and habit. I will endeavor to use female identifying to be more clear and inclusive.
    Gassho,
    Krista
    st/lah

  25. #25
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    I didn't intend my comments on language to derail our discussion on Schireson's book.
    Yes language is important, especially in relation to discussions around historical erasure and discrimination.
    I appreciate people talking about their own interpretations and personal understandings around language.
    Everyone, including myself mucks up or frankly, finds it difficult to keep up with changes in inclusive language (we need young folk to help us here).
    I propose that we read this book in the spirit for which it was written i.e. the spirit of inclusiveness and we have a separate discussion around inclusive language after we finish the book.
    This way I believe we'll all get the most out of this book and not be worried about offending folk.
    Thoughts?
    Gassho
    Onka
    ST

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Onka View Post
    I didn't intend my comments on language to derail our discussion on Schireson's book.
    Yes language is important, especially in relation to discussions around historical erasure and discrimination.
    I appreciate people talking about their own interpretations and personal understandings around language.
    Everyone, including myself mucks up or frankly, finds it difficult to keep up with changes in inclusive language (we need young folk to help us here).
    I propose that we read this book in the spirit for which it was written i.e. the spirit of inclusiveness and we have a separate discussion around inclusive language after we finish the book.
    This way I believe we'll all get the most out of this book and not be worried about offending folk.
    Thoughts?
    Gassho
    Onka
    ST
    Onka - I think when reading a book that discusses 'women' in zen it makes a lot of sense to ask what the term 'woman' means and if it is still fit for purpose. Apparently someone once said something about nothing being permanent, language is no different. So I don't see your comments as derailing the conversation.

    Gassho,

    Heiso

    StLah

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Heiso View Post
    Onka - I think when reading a book that discusses 'women' in zen it makes a lot of sense to ask what the term 'woman' means and if it is still fit for purpose. Apparently someone once said something about nothing being permanent, language is no different. So I don't see your comments as derailing the conversation.

    Gassho,

    Heiso

    StLah
    I agree, regardless of the language used, there was gender discrimination in the past as well as now. Defining what the term "woman" means to the individual allows us to discuss how historical gender discrimination in our tradition has shaped our practice today, and how discrimination still occurs both within our practice and the world around us. I think the language aspect is a very relevant topic, personally. Most religious texts are translations for the people reading them, so understanding the language and agreeing with it's intent is of paramount importance.

    Gassho,

    Joshua
    SatToday

  28. #28
    Learning from you all.

    Doshin
    St

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    Hi all

    Just to say I have done a recording of the Dogen fascicle Raihai-Tokuzui (Bowing to the Attainment of the Marrow) which is mentioned a few times in this chapter, if anyone wishes to listen. It is quite notable for its tone of gender equality in 13th century Japan.



    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    Thank you for posting this, Kokuu. It is very helpful to hear the context for these teaching stories.
    Gassho,
    Krista
    st/lah

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