Buddhism & sexism

There is an assumption that Buddhism is rational, modern and liberal in matters of gender, especially in comparison with Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. But is it? I think not. Here’s why.

Birth of the Buddha

Legend has it that Prince Siddhartha, who would later become the Buddha, emerged from the right side of his mother, near her hip. No disgusting birth canal or revolting vagina for him! He was too good for that.


Monks are not allowed to come into physical contact with women. This prevents monks who have not already achieved enlightenment from being distracted by lust.

I doubt that my sweaty, dust-covered, backpacker body would provoke much in the way of carnal desire but whenever I see a monk I fight the urge to run up and rub myself against him, just to see what would happen. I’d probably be dragged away by the authorities, screaming “Are you defiled now? ARE YA?” but I’ve promised Bernd I won’t make a scene on this trip.


Both monks and nuns must control their desires according to the “rules”, but only nuns have the additional burden of not “arousing the desires of men”.

Men-only temples

There are men-only areas in many of the temples we’ve visited. What would happen if I were to stray into those areas? Would I be arrested or just admonished? Sadly I haven’t been able to find out (no scene making).


In Tibetan Buddhism which takes the whole “rebirth” notion literally, reincarnation allows a person to move up the ladder of existence in subsequent lives. Women are considered to be a lower form of incarnation than men. A woman about to attain enlightenment will be reborn in the male form.

No thanks. I’ll happily remain unenlightened, irreligious and unaccepting of all of this nonsense.

4 thoughts on “Buddhism & sexism

  1. Yes, very sad. – Since I am not educated in this field: are there any sources that say it was Buddha himself who made up these rules or was it some weak males who came later and protected themselves against strong women?


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