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1 Burnside Religion Eastern- Buddhism

The Power of Denial: Buddhism, Purity, and Gender (Buddhisms)

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The Power of Denial: Buddhism, Purity, and Gender (Buddhisms) Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Innumerable studies have appeared in recent decades about practically every aspect of women's lives in Western societies. The few such works on Buddhism have been quite limited in scope. In The Power of Denial, Bernard Faure takes an important step toward redressing this situation by boldly asking: does Buddhism offer women liberation or limitation? Continuing the innovative exploration of sexuality in Buddhism he began in The Red Thread, here he moves from his earlier focus on male monastic sexuality to Buddhist conceptions of women and constructions of gender. Faure argues that Buddhism is neither as sexist nor as egalitarian as is usually thought. Above all, he asserts, the study of Buddhism through the gender lens leads us to question what we uncritically call Buddhism, in the singular.

Faure challenges the conventional view that the history of women in Buddhism is a linear narrative of progress from oppression to liberation. Examining Buddhist discourse on gender in traditions such as that of Japan, he shows that patriarchy--indeed, misogyny--has long been central to Buddhism. But women were not always silent, passive victims. Faure points to the central role not only of nuns and mothers (and wives) of monks but of female mediums and courtesans, whose colorful relations with Buddhist monks he considers in particular.

Ultimately, Faure concludes that while Buddhism is, in practice, relentlessly misogynist, as far as misogynist discourses go it is one of the most flexible and open to contradiction. And, he suggests, unyielding in-depth examination can help revitalize Buddhism's deeper, more ancient egalitarianism and thus subvert its existing gender hierarchy. This groundbreaking book offers a fresh, comprehensive understanding of what Buddhism has to say about gender, and of what this really says about Buddhism, singular or plural.

Synopsis:

"Well organized and very well written, Faure's book is unique. It will certainly stir up controversy in Buddhist studies and in American Buddhism. The style is perfect: brief, punchy, to the point."--Steven Collins, University of Chicago

Synopsis:

Innumerable studies have appeared in recent decades about practically every aspect of women's lives in Western societies. The few such works on Buddhism have been quite limited in scope. In The Power of Denial, Bernard Faure takes an important step toward redressing this situation by boldly asking: does Buddhism offer women liberation or limitation? Continuing the innovative exploration of sexuality in Buddhism he began in The Red Thread, here he moves from his earlier focus on male monastic sexuality to Buddhist conceptions of women and constructions of gender. Faure argues that Buddhism is neither as sexist nor as egalitarian as is usually thought. Above all, he asserts, the study of Buddhism through the gender lens leads us to question what we uncritically call Buddhism, in the singular.

Faure challenges the conventional view that the history of women in Buddhism is a linear narrative of progress from oppression to liberation. Examining Buddhist discourse on gender in traditions such as that of Japan, he shows that patriarchy--indeed, misogyny--has long been central to Buddhism. But women were not always silent, passive victims. Faure points to the central role not only of nuns and mothers (and wives) of monks but of female mediums and courtesans, whose colorful relations with Buddhist monks he considers in particular.

Ultimately, Faure concludes that while Buddhism is, in practice, relentlessly misogynist, as far as misogynist discourses go it is one of the most flexible and open to contradiction. And, he suggests, unyielding in-depth examination can help revitalize Buddhism's deeper, more ancient egalitarianism and thus subvert its existing gender hierarchy. This groundbreaking book offers a fresh, comprehensive understanding of what Buddhism has to say about gender, and of what this really says about Buddhism, singular or plural.

About the Author

Bernard Faure is George Edwin Burnell Professor of Religious Studies at Stanford University. He is the author of Visions of Power, The Red Thread, Chan Insights and Oversights, and The Rhetoric of Immediacy, (all Princeton).

Table of Contents

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS xi
Introduction: "Soaring and Settling"--Too Soon? 2
The Cultural Approach 6
Gender Revisited 8
Gendering Buddhism 15
PART ONE: BUDDHISM AND WOMEN 21
CHAPTER ONE
The Second Order 23
The Evolution of the Female Sanngha 24
The Female Order in Japan 28
The Issue of Ordination 36
Sociological Context(s)38
Sorely Missed 47
Nunhood and Feminism 51
CHAPTER TWO
The Rhetoric of Subordination 55
A Theodicy of Disprivilege 57
The Five Obstacles and the Three Dependences 62
A Case of Blood Poisoning 66
Drinking from the Blood Bowl 73
The "Facts" of Life 79
The Red and the White 81
CHAPTER THREE
The Rhetoric of Salvation 91
The Legend of the Naga-Girl 91
Becoming Male 99
Interpretative Divergences 103
Amida's Vow and Its Implications 106
A Feminine Topos 116
CHAPTER FOUR
The Rhetoric of Equality 119
Gender Equality in Mahayana 120
Gender Equality in Vajrayana 122
Chan/Zen Egalitarianism 127
PART TWO: IMAGINING BUDDHIST WOMEN 143
CHAPTER FIVE
Monks, Mothers, and Motherhood 145
Bad Mothers 146
The Ambivalent Mother 148Mater Dolorosa 148
The Forsaken Mother 152
The Changing Image of Motherhood 160
Varieties of Motherly Experience 163
Mad Mothers 167
The Law of Alliance 168
CHAPTER SIX
Conflicting Images 181
Women in the Life of the Buddha 182
Queens, Empresses, and Other Impressive Ladies 188
Eminent Nuns 198
Femmes Fatales 204
Of Women and Jewels 205
PART THREE: WOMEN AGAINST BUDDHISM 217
CHAPTER SEVEN
Crossing the Line 219
The Utopian Topos 222
Stopped in Their Tracks 224
Kukai's Mother 228
The Kekkai Stone 233
Conflicting Interpretations 235
The Symbolic Reading of Transgression 238
The Kekkai and the Logic of Muen 243
CHAPTER EIGHT
Women on the Move 250
The "Nuns of Kumano" 250
What's in a Name 254
Down by the River 261
The Monk and the Bayadère 262
The Discourteous Courtesan 267
Paradigms 269
CHAPTER NINE
The Power of Women 287
The Myth of Tamayorihime 290
The Miko and the Monk 304
Women on the Edge 310
Women, Dragons, and Snakes 316
AFTERTHOUGHTS 325
NOTES 341
BIBLIOGRAPHY 401
INDEX 459

Product Details

ISBN:
9780691091716
Editor:
Teiser, Stephen F.
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Editor:
Teiser, Stephen F.
Author:
Faure, Bernard
Location:
Princeton, N.J.
Subject:
Women
Subject:
Asia - General
Subject:
Sex
Subject:
Buddhism
Subject:
Gender Studies
Subject:
Buddhism - General
Subject:
Sexuality & Gender Studies
Subject:
Religion
Subject:
Asian and Asian American Studies
Subject:
Buddhism -- Doctrines.
Subject:
Women - Religious aspects - Buddhism
Subject:
Religion Eastern-Buddhism
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Buddhisms: A Princeton University Press Series
Series Volume:
vol. LI, pt. 1
Publication Date:
February 2003
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
College/higher education:
Language:
English
Pages:
488
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 28 oz

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Politics » United States » Foreign Policy
Religion » Eastern Religions » Buddhism » General
Religion » World Religions » Sexuality and Gender Studies

The Power of Denial: Buddhism, Purity, and Gender (Buddhisms) Used Trade Paper
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Product details 488 pages Princeton University Press - English 9780691091716 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , "Well organized and very well written, Faure's book is unique. It will certainly stir up controversy in Buddhist studies and in American Buddhism. The style is perfect: brief, punchy, to the point."--Steven Collins, University of Chicago
"Synopsis" by , Innumerable studies have appeared in recent decades about practically every aspect of women's lives in Western societies. The few such works on Buddhism have been quite limited in scope. In The Power of Denial, Bernard Faure takes an important step toward redressing this situation by boldly asking: does Buddhism offer women liberation or limitation? Continuing the innovative exploration of sexuality in Buddhism he began in The Red Thread, here he moves from his earlier focus on male monastic sexuality to Buddhist conceptions of women and constructions of gender. Faure argues that Buddhism is neither as sexist nor as egalitarian as is usually thought. Above all, he asserts, the study of Buddhism through the gender lens leads us to question what we uncritically call Buddhism, in the singular.

Faure challenges the conventional view that the history of women in Buddhism is a linear narrative of progress from oppression to liberation. Examining Buddhist discourse on gender in traditions such as that of Japan, he shows that patriarchy--indeed, misogyny--has long been central to Buddhism. But women were not always silent, passive victims. Faure points to the central role not only of nuns and mothers (and wives) of monks but of female mediums and courtesans, whose colorful relations with Buddhist monks he considers in particular.

Ultimately, Faure concludes that while Buddhism is, in practice, relentlessly misogynist, as far as misogynist discourses go it is one of the most flexible and open to contradiction. And, he suggests, unyielding in-depth examination can help revitalize Buddhism's deeper, more ancient egalitarianism and thus subvert its existing gender hierarchy. This groundbreaking book offers a fresh, comprehensive understanding of what Buddhism has to say about gender, and of what this really says about Buddhism, singular or plural.

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