The Curse of Being Kind

Since earliest childhood, girls have been admonished to be kind and accommodating. To repress our intuition and gut instincts. We’ve been socialized to gaslight our innate sense of right-and-wrong and self-preservation in order to be NICE, to appease. Good Girls never get mad. They never judge or clutch their pearls. They’re not allowed to have boundaries—it’s so unfeminine!

Even now, when we think we’re in a more progressive age, “Be Kind” T-shirts are mercilessly marketed to women and girls who are still expected to be the default support humans, even if it’s not in their best interest.

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Shedding Shame by Joyce Zonana

As I follow my program, I grow clearer and stronger. I know exactly what I want and I take it. When I sit down to eat, I feel my appetite, healthy and strong. I feed that appetite, choosing just what I need and what will truly nurture me. When I get up from the table, I am complete and whole within myself. Whether I reach my “goal weight” or not, I’ve already succeeded. And so, this New Year, I won’t be making any new resolutions. I’m already on my path, shedding shame.

jz-headshotAt the lovely small Chanukah party I attended earlier this month, I did not taste the latkes, those delicious potato pancakes fried in oil and typically served with sour cream and applesauce. My hostess offered them to me repeatedly, proudly noting that she’d used her Polish grandmother’s recipe. But I politely said “no thank you,” I’d just started a diet. “Who starts a diet in December?” someone asked. Someone else pointedly wondered “How can you not eat latkes at Chanukah?” but I quietly insisted that I needed to refrain. I promised, though, that I’d have some next year, once I’d shed the extra pounds that were making me uneasy in my own body.

In my Middle Eastern Jewish home it was the height of rudeness not to partake of what someone offered you to eat. So my refusal was difficult on many levels. But in fact, we never ate latkes at Chanukah. Instead we had deep-fried beignets, little balls of dough, sticky-sweet and drenched in rosewater-scented sugar syrup. I wouldn’t be having any of those this year either. And though another friend at the party assured me I didn’t need to lose weight— “You’re zaftig and beautiful just as you are,” she said—I’d decided a few weeks earlier that, Chanukah or no Chanukah, Christmas or no Christmas, this December was exactly when I wanted to begin my journey to what I believe is, for me, a healthier body weight.

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Feminism and Buddhism: constructive wave interference by Oxana Poberejnaia

oxanaAlthough it can be said that the Buddhist teaching can benefit all, including feminists, it can also be argued that Feminism has a lot to teach Buddhist practitioners. Rita M. Gross made this point brilliantly in her “Buddhism After Patriarchy: A Feminist History, Analysis, and Reconstruction of Buddhism.”

While Buddhism generally encourages investigation, it is still easy for a Buddhist practitioner to become complacent. This complacency can be caused by the feeling of safety that your particular school of Buddhism provides. How your mind works, how the world works are all explained, all is well, just keep practising in the assigned paradigm, there is no need for thinking outside the box.

However, Buddhists often forget that it is exactly outside the box where the Buddha has been pointing with his every teaching, ever since he got liberated. When a Buddhist practitioner is stuck, the vigour of Feminism can provide inspiration. Feminists simply never stopped, do not intend to stop now.

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