Rita M. Gross in her book Buddhism After Patriarchy presents portraits of prominent women from Buddhist history. Some stories are extraordinary for the brutal details they contain. For example, Yeshe Tsogyel was raped, kidnapped and beaten by her suitors to the point that her back was a bloody pulp. She subsequently escaped to meditate in a cave.
In a patriarchal society, religious fervour is not recommended for women. Submission and obedience – yes. The life of an ascetic, a wanderer or a hermit – no. A son is relatively free to pursue religious activities (especially if he is one of the younger children and the issue of inheritance is sorted out). However, all daughters are better off tucked into a marriage. Supporting your husband and sons on their spiritual path – yes. Independent striving away from family life – no. Continue reading “Women are like countries: both need to fight hard for independence by Oxana Poberejnaia”
In autumn 2001 I attended a youth workshop in Moscow, where I saw for the first time a brand new flash animation character who would accompany us in our young adulthood. Her name is Masyanya. She is a leader of a punk rock band. She does not take herself too seriously, but she means everything she says or does. I look up to her. She makes me laugh. And in one of the recent episodes Masyanya taught her male friend Lokhmaty (Shaggy) Buddhist meditation.
Masyanya is a creation of Oleg Kuvaev, a male Russian designer and animator. You can read his brief history of the project and watch episodes without dialogue here. On YouTube there are some Masyanya episodes with English subtitles, like this one, entitled “Women Triangles”.
In a country that was willing to [sic] its secular court on a “religious” cause, Pussy Riot are true revolutionaries. Nonetheless, it was not until they delivered these closing statements that their supporters—and opponents—heard what these three brave women stand for. Although they are being crushed in the jaws of the system—and know it!—their courage and steadfast sincerity are sufficient cause for (impossible) hope. If not for the Russian state, then at least for the Russian people. —Bela Shayevich
“When religion puts people in jail it’s unjust” – David Gross
The intermix of religion and politics are familiar, especially after this year’s presidential election. Many supported Mitt Romney out of concern for religious freedom; a stance that had the potential to marry religion and politics in a dysfunctional union. We also witnessed a veiled attempt by the Catholic Church to emphasize and sway the faithful to vote for the one true moral candidate; a stance contradicted by Obama’s ability to carry the Catholic vote. I believe what we see in Russia is a shining example that shows what happens when regulations and laws do not segregate between secular law and church law. Freedoms do not exist, rather, rules and restrictions are imposed creating an institutional prison.
The prosecution of an all girl punk band named Pussy Riot [i] demonstrates a “complete fusion of the institutions of the state and church,” which devalues “women’s rights and freedom of speech.”Members of Pussy Riot are serving a two year sentence of hard labor for “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.” What was their crime? They went into a Cathedral in Moscow and started singing a punk prayer – “Mother of God, Chase Putin Out!”
They danced, kneeled, and crossed themselves in front of the Church’s high altar. This occurred the day before the re-election of Vladimir Putin. While I do not support going into a sacred space with relics to make a protest, what I find problematic is their harsh sentence. However, it should be noted that with the coverage of the trial and the outpouring of support received from many organizations, and musicians, they did manage to bring to the forefront issues surrounding the government and the Church.