Your gender and sexuality

Casual conversation between friends. Anything goes (almost).

Your gender and sexuality?

Female-Gay
2
5%
Female-Bi
3
7%
Female-Straight
1
2%
Male-Gay
10
23%
Male-Bi
2
5%
Male-Straight
23
52%
Interesex-Gay
0
No votes
Interesex-Bi
0
No votes
Interesex-Straight
0
No votes
Female, Male or Interesex; Asexual
3
7%
 
Total votes: 44

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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Your gender and sexuality

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

Simon E. wrote:Meanwhile back in the world where ideology is a luxury...and pragmatism rules.

At midnight tonight same sex marriage becomes legal in England and Wales... :smile:

:twothumbsup:
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

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Nilasarasvati
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Re: Your gender and sexuality

Post by Nilasarasvati »

I'd like to take issue with some of the first knee jerk responses way back at the beginning of this thread...

which basically amounted to "I don't want to think about this stuff"
"It's none of my business,"
"Why do we need to talk about it? This has nothing to do with Buddhism,"
"Can't we just pretend we're all the same?"


No we cant. Yes, we need to talk about it. The tiny statistical evidence of how male-dominated this site is ALONE is of huge import to everybody who comes on here. The pages and pages of discussion that have followed are some evidence of the degree to which this stuff is of interest, of note, and of crucial import to anybody who wants to become savvy to issues that are of CRUCIAL importance to the practice of the dharma and its successful grafting onto Western cultures. Queers like myself make up a disproportionate amount (higher than the statistical average corresponding to the population) of Buddhist sanghas in the west because

A. We're often intellectuals and we find other intellectuals interested in Buddhism, too
B. We've been burned by the ugly hypocrisies of theistic traditions
C. And, speaking only for myself, I find the teachings of the Buddha to be just as marvelous and liberatory as other Buddhists, but may appreciate them even more because the teachers I have met and encountered not only quietly "tolerate" my sexual orientation, but affirm me as being no better or worse than any other lay practitioner, and in possession of the precious human circumstances that can lead to enlightenment--including, not excepting--my sexual orientation.

Patrul Rinpoche says "the dharma has no owners; it belongs to whomever has the most endeavour." There are many sanghas with substantial amounts of LGBT people who are earnest, authentic lineage holders, practitioners, and scholars. Speaking on their behalf, and on behalf of the young people who will hopefully find their way into the dharma sooner rather than later, we are here to stay. We will be a major presence in Buddhist practice in the west for generations and generations, and the lifestyles we have--unprecedented in East and south asian dharma communities--will mostly prove to be utterly inconsequential to the successful application of the teachings of the Buddha. :buddha2:

It was hard for me to break into the dharma. It was made harder because of my own beliefs that a person like me didn't belong in a Buddhist sangha. The gender-essentialist, heteronormative, and or homophobic tinge to some comments on here could be something that turns a young person away from the buddhadharma forever.

P.S. Nearly everybody consistently posting here has been great. Especially you, Johnnydangerous. Thanks for tackling identity politics.
untxi
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Re: Your gender and sexuality

Post by untxi »

Johnny Dangerous...

Again, many good points. I'm glad to have this discussion with you.
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Untxi wrote:I disagree that most people wouldn't deny that the I've pointed out are serious problems
Most people on this board would I believe, and I also suspect most western Buddhists would.

Though they may not all agree on ideas of how to implement changes.
Again this is a point where I would disagree. I have seen the sexual abuse of students by Buddhist teachers justified by sangha members as being the "wrong view" of the victim. I have also seen lay sangha taunt and spread very hurtful and divisive rumors about queer sangha members, both lay or ordained-- again justified by Buddhist teachings. Speaking for myself, that's why I'm involved in this conversation. I have seen some very disturbing misogyny and queer phobia on this board and boards like it over the years, and I have generally seen it go unchallenged.
Untxi wrote:I don't know what to say about this rhetoric of privilege, these schema of biological sex/gender identity/gender role, and ways of talking about oppression, appropriation and objectification. As a scientist and a gear-head I'd be the first to admit it's a bit much-- but it's the only language I have. This is the only algebra and calculus I've been able to use to deal with the misogyny, racism, and queer phobia I've been culturally habituated to. Of course it's imperfect. Of course, like any political ecology, it can be annoying, awkward, and inelegant. It's all I've got.
Johnny Dangerous wrote:The problem with these ideas, from my perspective, is not that they don't point out real problems, but that the model of acting politically on notions of separate identity can't lead to things which should probably be common goals for anyone with interest in more just, saner society. For instance, generally this whole focus on multiculturalism has led to the dropping of the very real, very huge effect of class on the vast majority of these conversations. The whole reason it's called identity politics pejoratively is because that's what it focuses on - identity and it's preservation, and it's critics maintain it takes people's eyes off of more universal political and economic issues, as just another form of "identity". In addition, as mentioned before, they end up in a kind of hesitancy of people to speak about these things in a desire to 'respect diversity'. I've already experienced some of that here with Zsc constantly insisting that my criticism of a type of politics is a criticism of types of people.
There are good points to this critique. I'll accept that there is the real possibility of "identity politics" shunting larger political concerns. Class issues are one. Environmental issues are another. This is absolutely true: what is the point of nuanced sex/gender arguments while a corporate hegemony exploits us all and the planet dies? Years ago one of the things that caused me to leave the feminist movement as a male ally was a debate in my peer group, my hive, that involved a woman of color. It came down to whether she was a "black" first or "woman" first. I found the entire conversation revolting, it was destructive to our little hive, and it was politically derailing as well as philosophically and spiritually bankrupt. So I know first hand how identity politics can derail or co-op other visions and concerns. If we're playing the oppression Olympics-- is your suffering bigger than mine? if not, back off-- then we're doing just that. Derailing and co-oping with identity politics.

I don't know about others, but for me there is no problem with divergent visions of political solutions or even divergent philosophical views. I don't think that disrespects diversity.

That said what I do think disrespects diversity is invalidating and/or silencing the experiences/voices of others. This is where I think it gets very difficult and subtle. If I assert the sex/gender is binary, is that invalidating the experiences of others? Maybe. Maybe not. If I assert that there is no such thing as trans identity, is that invalidating the experiences of others? Maybe. Maybe not. What determines is the extent to which I have examined my own assumptions about sex/gender and how I frame the experiences of those who claim a gender experience that falls outside a binary model, and the experiences of those who claim trans experiences. Someone who asserts that there are boys & girls because that's what everyone has said for eons and that's what the dharma says-- so all those queers and trannys are sick freaks... well that person is disrespecting diversity and is engaged in harmful speech and conduct. If somebody has a more nuanced critique while not robbing people of their humanity and dignity-- that's a different matter.

One aspect of "identity politics" that people need to realize is that it exists because people are oppressed because of their identity. My gay monk friend who was taunted by his sangha wasn't taunted because he performed any defeat. He was taunted because he was gay-- his identity-- and he was a monk. When I carried that woman out of a party with "vagina" and "whore" written on her body, she wasn't being debased because of her promiscuity, she was raped... she was debased for being a woman-- her identity. This politics is cast in terms of identity because that's the terms the oppression is cast.

Remember, this whole discussion got started on this forum from some Buddhist voices suggesting that feminism ruined society and that queer people are causing the decline of the dharma and the corruption of the very fabric of society. Facts such as the states which allow same sex marriages have higher total marriage rates (including heterosexuals) and lower total divorcee rates (including heterosexuals) don't get in their way.
Johnny Dangerous wrote:I don't even accept this as good strategy in the world of conventional politics, say nothing of it's relevance to Buddhist Sangha, where notions of separate identities and sets of rules for those identities seem incompatible with the sense of uncondtional community people are trying to foster.
I don't disagree with you. My counter is that the gender politics are already in the sangha. If lay people are gay bashing their renunciates, teachers forcing themselves on women, people bashing gays and women in internet forums-- the politics are already here. They've been here. Long been here. This is all an attempt to fillet through it to clean it up. Maybe not the method? Like I said, I'm open to different languages.
Untxi wrote:What I don't think is a reasonable response is to expect government and legislation to have any impact on this. If I were in Iceland or Sweden I would think differently, but not in America-- a hegemony. There is a huge difference between what is ethical and what is legal. The legal is not necessarily ethical, and when it is, it is a small subset of the ethical.
Johnny Dangerous wrote:Other than word games like what have gone on in this thread, IMO organizing around changing and enforcing laws is at present the best recourse for justice, as imperfect and flawed as it most certainly is, going around spreading the word about 'recognizing privilege" is firstly, very presumptive about other people's experiences (for instance, i've already lived a very "diverse" life around all kinds of folks, lots of bad stuff, and lots of different ideas, and I don't feel a need for validation from the PC police on that count). Secondly, as mentioned before - it will be "preaching to the converted" in that only those on the left will listen at all to the rhetoric, and of those that do a percentage will likely simply be irritated by it.
I completely and totally disagree about the justice system. It is an engine of violence. That is a whole other set of stories and things I've experienced. Sure there is some pragmatism in working within the system-- gay marriage, civil rights, etc. But what I generally find is that there is some victory and people it done. People say an African American president means we're in a post-racial society. I've been in places in the rural South that would say otherwise.

You and I have very different notions about privilege. One, I don't consider "privilege" a problem. In any society there will be people of privilege. If we understand dependent origination we know this to be true as well. There are causes of happiness and suffering. The only "problem" with privilege is that when it isn't recognized, or when it's denied, it becomes a method of exploiting and oppressing people. The white Americans who kept slaves felt completely justified in what they were doing. The Bible and various social and political justified it. What actually allowed it in the end was a failure to identify privilege and its implications-- and thus exploiting privilege.

Two, I don't think investigating privilege is really a function of one's life experience. Investigating one's privilege has nothing to do with that. The languages of my ancestors were spoken in my father's home, and I grew up in an extended immigrant family from *other* cultures, one that spanned European and Arab cultures. My father taught in migrant farm schools, ghetto schools, and I came up dating women of color, Eastern European immigrants. My profession puts me in daily contact with people of other cultures. Even after being mentored by feminist and queer theorists, I'm still realizing how unaware I am of my own privilege and its implications.
Johnny Dangerous wrote:On the speech thing, I don't mean suppressing free speech in the way the state does, I mean shutting down conversations by using privilege as an excuse to stop dialogue, or to simply not come up with effective arguments. This is what I have experienced from nearly everyone i've known heavily invested in academic identity politics - "check your privilege", then the conversation is over, because the assumption is I can't see through my privilege, and therefore cannot have a fully informed opinion on a given subject. Funnily enough, minus Zsc I have only experienced this in my life with other White people trying to 'correct" my politics, none of my minority friends (sexual or ethnic) have ever asked to check my privilege, if I was out of line they just made their case.
You have a good point with "check your privilege". I tried being involved in an online forum where that was stated as part of the ToS. I knew it wouldn't go well-- and it didn't. I roll differently. I start with the assumption that I'm a racist, misogynist and queer phobe with privilege... and everything's on the table: educate me of your experience, and I'll educate of you of mine..
Johnny Dangerous wrote:I respect your commitment here Unxti, and I'm sure your actions are for the good, it all just sounds light on action, and full up on expectations of ideological conformity to me though. This is all part of a larger dialogue on the left that I see coming to front in the coming years for those who wish to be politically active - including Buddhists, as far right movements and similar possibly gain more traction in the economic crisis. I'm gonna go ahead and leave it at that, and thank you for being so open about sharing your experiences.
The "action" that I had hoped to engage in here has only been picked up by Ven. J Khendrup who has made some very constructive comments on sex/gender in the context of actual Buddhist textual and practice traditions. My actual engagement in sex/gender issues has involved women's reproductive rights, violence against women, peer counseling men who have been involved in gender violence, and working to block various forms of right wing legislation. Beyond that, I see my engagement as one of education and setting an example. Shutting hateful s*** down, dialoging with people about issues, and setting an example in the professional setting as I deal with people in a very diverse setting.

If you go back to the beginning of this thread, I just posted the Genderbread Person and some graphics to illustrate different potential models of discussing sex/gender. Not exactly a hard promotion of anything. The rest has been all response to others. Back before that, my suggesting for a change in the ToS was a result of some fairly uncool things said by certain posters that went quite a ways without being moderated.

Again-- if there's a better language to discuss this in, let me know. I don't care what politics people embrace. If Ramen soup makes people cool and accepting-- go for it. Unless you're hypertensive.

Otherwise, I'd like to go back where J. Khedrup started taking this.
Last edited by untxi on Fri Mar 28, 2014 10:07 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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garudha
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Re: Your gender and sexuality

Post by garudha »

Nilasarasvati wrote: "Can't we just pretend we're all the same?"[/b]

No we cant. Yes, we need to talk about it. //snip//

P.S. Nearly everybody consistently posting here has been great. Especially you, Johnnydangerous. Thanks for tackling identity politics.
It's all very well talking about politics but can someone, bearing in mind this is a Buddhist web forum, please tell me...
What is the meaning of "homosexual" that we're discussing, anyway ?
untxi
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Re: Your gender and sexuality

Post by untxi »

garudha wrote:It's all very well talking about politics but can someone, bearing in mind this is a Buddhist web forum, please tell me...
Garudha...

It's very simple. Speaking for myself: because of my Buddhist vows and commitment to social justice, I was very disturbed by some recent homophobic and misogynistic comments on this board. Talking to others in PM and outside the board I know others feel similarly. Some of them are women and sexual minorities. Some not.

A modification to the ToS has been suggested and is being considered.

As Ven. J Khedrup picked up on, my larger interest is to discuss sex/gender in the context of the traditional textual and practice tradition. This is the lounge "anything goes" forum. Maybe that dialog can be serious enough and focused enough to move to a different forum.

-Untxi
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Re: Your gender and sexuality

Post by Kaccāni »

@untxi: I can fully understand what you experienced and where you are coming from. In my experience the effects of normativity are blurred when you belong to the normative fraction. From that side the effect seems like an intellectual play, because it is one of those hypothetical options that never happens to those people. It only fully unfolds as reality when you belong to a minority or otherwise discriminated fraction where those theoretical side effects fully unfold and are experienced as real.

Although other people can understand you intellectually, they have no grasp of the experience. It's like explaining a person who can only see grayscale what is green. They can make up a mental model of grass and trees having a particular property which is hypothetical, which could be. But they simply cannot experience it. The best way to simulate it is "Imagine they don't let you become buddhist because you're a man who likes women. You're preferred when you're gay." -- fight tendencies by inversion, eliminate tendencies by the opposite.

What I just read in other threads along the lines of "better ask a monk than a nun for the vow", questions about "where is it written that ..." to be valid, then I'm coming to the conclusion that Buddhism as a form or organized reality has fallen into the same trap as other major religions. Maybe because "being Buddhist" causes identification, starts a quest for seeking authenticity, creates guardians of history, becomes exclusive and differentiating instead of inclusive and integrating, thereby corrupting the original idea.

Therefore I'm not a buddhist. If something, then I am that in which phenomena arise. That doesn't need a name. And it also doesn't need a category. And I believe that to be the message of Buddha.

If Buddhism today makes an issue out of categories other than trying to get over them, then I suppose that form of Buddhism is broken. This makes me sad.

Best wishes
Gwenn
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untxi
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Re: Your gender and sexuality

Post by untxi »

Gwenn Dana...

It is precisely your reaction that makes me committed to wading through all this. When I discuss these issues with my teachers and examine the root texts-- none of this is an issue. Ask someone like Garchen Rinpoche if a woman or a LBGTQIA person can practice dharma-- make blanket disparaging comments about women or some group and see his response. Replace Garchen Rinpoche with any number of great teachers. None of it has anything to do with the actual practice of dharma.

Where I see bigotry is in the sangha, and discussing that with reasoned people, it's abundantly clear: we're all afflicted and on the path.

Where the disconnect occurs is when people try to address it. Call it out. Get to the root of it. Some non-trivial fraction will actually use the tradition to defend it. This sutra said that, this is the tradition. Another non-trivial fraction will strike out not at the bigotry, but the language and methodology one uses to address it-- even though it's just a conventional means to an end, like a software manual or cookbook, it's attacked for being in conflict with the dharma: feminism, identity politics, etc.

Thus my hope to take the discussion right down to the roots.

-U
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garudha
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Re: Your gender and sexuality

Post by garudha »

untxi wrote: Thus my hope to take the discussion right down to the roots.
-U
Roots of what? Politics? lol.

How about this:

Sometimes, when I have a free time, I meditate on my internal energy and concentrate on my own body-awareness. Then being aware of the internal rhythm of my own internal energy I cultivate my energy into a crescendo of orgasmic pleasure. In the past, when I was particularly healthy, I could do most of this anytime/anyplace and experience a kind of orgasm just by breathing. However, now, I'm not in good health so have to use my hand to aid the crescendo. This is called masturbation.

What I've described is the personal sexual experience without reference to another person. I'm sure you all know what I'm talking about. We are all human, aren't we?

It might sound incredibly stupid to be talking about about things in such basic language but as long we're not fully fledged Buddhas, can we really say that we understand ourselves, and that these basic aspects of human sexual energy aren't worth understanding?

Now, let's say that like an alien, I have recently landed upon the planet earth and everything is very new to me. I'm not an infant but a fully grown human. I have discovered the (above ability) experience--the personal sexual experience.

...So! where do I go from here and what is the meaning of any other sexual relationship that involves another human-being ?
untxi
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Re: Your gender and sexuality

Post by untxi »

Garudha...

I'm cool with what you say. I dig.

In my experience, if you're not straight you'll be an item of mockery in most sanghas ive been involved with. If you're ordained and not straight-- probably you'll get worse.

That's why some of us are talking sex/gender politics.
JamyangTashi
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Re: Your gender and sexuality

Post by JamyangTashi »

untxi wrote: That said what I do think disrespects diversity is invalidating and/or silencing the experiences/voices of others. This is where I think it gets very difficult and subtle. If I assert the sex/gender is binary, is that invalidating the experiences of others? Maybe. Maybe not. If I assert that there is no such thing as trans identity, is that invalidating the experiences of others? Maybe. Maybe not. What determines is the extent to which I have examined my own assumptions about sex/gender and how I frame the experiences of those who claim a gender experience that falls outside a binary model, and the experiences of those who claim trans experiences. Someone who asserts that there are boys & girls because that's what everyone has said for eons and that's what the dharma says-- so all those queers and trannys are sick freaks... well that person is disrespecting diversity and is engaged in harmful speech and conduct. If somebody has a more nuanced critique while not robbing people of their humanity and dignity-- that's a different matter.
Whether sex/gender is viewed as having two options or sixteen options or any other number, as soon as the perspective "only this is true; anything else is worthless" enters the picture, that's where the problems arise. Insisting on sixteen options as the only possible correct model results in quarrels just as much as insisting on two options as the only possible correct model.
untxi wrote: One aspect of "identity politics" that people need to realize is that it exists because people are oppressed because of their identity. My gay monk friend who was taunted by his sangha wasn't taunted because he performed any defeat. He was taunted because he was gay-- his identity-- and he was a monk. When I carried that woman out of a party with "vagina" and "whore" written on her body, she wasn't being debased because of her promiscuity, she was raped... she was debased for being a woman-- her identity. This politics is cast in terms of identity because that's the terms the oppression is cast.
Identity is related with these improper behaviors but isn't necessarily the cause. The greed, hatred, and ignorance of the people performing the unwholesome actions are ultimately to blame. The monk being taunted isn't wrong because he's gay, it's wrong because the taunting is harmful and unjustifiable. If he had been straight and was taunted for a tattoo acquired in his youth it would be just as wrong. If a straight man is raped and brutalized, that's no more acceptable than a woman being brutalized. Again, the identity is incidental. The root cause is the greed, hatred, and ignorance of the people committing the act. No human, regardless of identity, deserves such treatment. The impropriety of the behavior is not a matter of identity. Identity is incidental.
untxi wrote: I don't disagree with you. My counter is that the gender politics are already in the sangha. If lay people are gay bashing their renunciates, teachers forcing themselves on women, people bashing gays and women in internet forums-- the politics are already here. They've been here. Long been here. This is all an attempt to fillet through it to clean it up. Maybe not the method? Like I said, I'm open to different languages.
These improper behaviors that arise from people deciding how to act based on perceived identities are unlikely to be solved by encouraging strong perception of identities. Focusing on the improper behavior and the greed, hatred, and ignorance that leads to that improper behavior seems to be more effective. No identity group deserves more protection from harm than any other group. Such views appear to have caused this problem in the first place, and as such seem unlikely to be the means to solve the problem.
untxi wrote:What I don't think is a reasonable response is to expect government and legislation to have any impact on this. If I were in Iceland or Sweden I would think differently, but not in America-- a hegemony. There is a huge difference between what is ethical and what is legal. The legal is not necessarily ethical, and when it is, it is a small subset of the ethical.
If laws and policies can't solve the problem, what will? Trying to convert everyone to a shared ethical vision which is universally maintained with dedication is a pleasing utopian vision, but it doesn't sound like a practical solution to the immediate problems.
untxi wrote: There are causes of happiness and suffering. The only "problem" with privilege is that when it isn't recognized, or when it's denied, it becomes a method of exploiting and oppressing people. The white Americans who kept slaves felt completely justified in what they were doing. The Bible and various social and political justified it. What actually allowed it in the end was a failure to identify privilege and its implications-- and thus exploiting privilege.
Slavery was not made possible by denying or failing to recognize privilege. It was made possible by beating people, tying them up, threatening them with death, and locking them in confined places. In order to solve slavery, there was no need to consider the privilege of not being beaten, tied up, threatened with death, and locked in confined places. Instead, it was only necessary to recognize that these things were harmful, unnecessary, ultimately unjustifiable. Privilege is not involved in exploiting and oppressing people. Exploiting and oppressing people is. It's possible to have compassion and consider things from other people's perspective by understanding the specific details of a situation and not fixating on an abstract category of privilege.
untxi wrote: Again-- if there's a better language to discuss this in, let me know. I don't care what politics people embrace. If Ramen soup makes people cool and accepting-- go for it. Unless you're hypertensive.
The most effective language is to discuss the problems that actually need to be solved by describing those problems and ways to solve them. If spreading hateful rumors is a problem, talk about spreading hateful rumors. If rape is a problem, talk about rape. If violence is a problem, talk about violence. If economic disadvantage is a problem, talk about economic disadvantage. If unnecessary or irrelevant questions on government forms is a problem, talk about unnecessary or irrelevant questions on government forms. None of these problems require a discussion of identity or privilege, and bringing concepts of identity and privilege into the discussion seems to just distract from the actual problems to be solved. Violence is an equally significant problem regardless of the identity of the recipient or the privilege of the perpetrator. The same goes for the rest of the problems. Given that some of these problems arise from people focusing too much on perceptions of identity in the first place, it doesn't seem that focusing on perceptions of identity is the path to their solution. If anything, it encourages the kind of divisive thinking and "us and them" mentality that feeds the greed, hatred, and ignorance that results in these inappropriate behaviors.
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Re: Your gender and sexuality

Post by Adi »

Perhaps it all comes down to the strangely relevant saying inside the fortune cookie I received today at lunch:
Good work, good life, good love, good-bye oppression
:)

Adi
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Re: Your gender and sexuality

Post by garudha »

Adi wrote:
Good work, good life, good love, good-bye oppression
Is that Chinese?
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Re: Your gender and sexuality

Post by Adi »

garudha wrote:
Adi wrote:
Good work, good life, good love, good-bye oppression
Is that Chinese?
No, Injie.
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Re: Your gender and sexuality

Post by garudha »

Adi wrote:
garudha wrote: Is that Chinese?
No, Injie.
You do mean Inglis, don't you?

Cookies containing bits of paper = Good business.
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Adi
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Re: Your gender and sexuality

Post by Adi »

I have no idea.
untxi
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Re: Your gender and sexuality

Post by untxi »

Jamyang Tashi...

Some good points here. Thanks for sharing. Some thoughts below.
JamyangTashi wrote:
untxi wrote:That said what I do think disrespects diversity is invalidating and/or silencing the experiences/voices of others. This is where I think it gets very difficult and subtle. If I assert the sex/gender is binary, is that invalidating the experiences of others? Maybe. Maybe not. If I assert that there is no such thing as trans identity, is that invalidating the experiences of others? Maybe. Maybe not. What determines is the extent to which I have examined my own assumptions about sex/gender and how I frame the experiences of those who claim a gender experience that falls outside a binary model, and the experiences of those who claim trans experiences. Someone who asserts that there are boys & girls because that's what everyone has said for eons and that's what the dharma says-- so all those queers and trannys are sick freaks... well that person is disrespecting diversity and is engaged in harmful speech and conduct. If somebody has a more nuanced critique while not robbing people of their humanity and dignity-- that's a different matter.
Whether sex/gender is viewed as having two options or sixteen options or any other number, as soon as the perspective "only this is true; anything else is worthless" enters the picture, that's where the problems arise. Insisting on sixteen options as the only possible correct model results in quarrels just as much as insisting on two options as the only possible correct model.
I don't think anybody, certainly not myself, insisted that a specific taxonomy of sex/gender needed to be adopted. As I have said in threads with Johnny Dangerous, these taxonomies are all tools, methods of deconstructing assumptions about sex/gender. If there's anything that I think any ally or advocate would insist upon, it's simply being open to the fact that sex and gender are more complex than our cultural assumptions. That is true of race, ethnicity, religion-- all aspects of life.
JamyangTashi wrote:
untxi wrote:One aspect of "identity politics" that people need to realize is that it exists because people are oppressed because of their identity. My gay monk friend who was taunted by his sangha wasn't taunted because he performed any defeat. He was taunted because he was gay-- his identity-- and he was a monk. When I carried that woman out of a party with "vagina" and "whore" written on her body, she wasn't being debased because of her promiscuity, she was raped... she was debased for being a woman-- her identity. This politics is cast in terms of identity because that's the terms the oppression is cast.
Identity is related with these improper behaviors but isn't necessarily the cause. The greed, hatred, and ignorance of the people performing the unwholesome actions are ultimately to blame. The monk being taunted isn't wrong because he's gay, it's wrong because the taunting is harmful and unjustifiable. If he had been straight and was taunted for a tattoo acquired in his youth it would be just as wrong. If a straight man is raped and brutalized, that's no more acceptable than a woman being brutalized. Again, the identity is incidental. The root cause is the greed, hatred, and ignorance of the people committing the act. No human, regardless of identity, deserves such treatment. The impropriety of the behavior is not a matter of identity. Identity is incidental.
We have a choice. One is to look at the perpetrators of these horrible things. As you say, these people do these things because of the three poisons. As such, they deserve our compassion. The other is to look at the victims of these horrible things. When we do that, we see that what instigated these attacks-- not the substantial cause, the three poisons in the mind of the perpetrator, but the cooperative cause-- is the bodies, sex, and gender of these victims. When I peer counseled young men who committed sexual violence, this was very clear. They certainly had this substantial cause-- rage, anger, hatred, distorted lusts and urges. But it was also clear that they had clear targets, and when dialoging with them, they had these targets for very clear reasons. If we look at both the victim and the perpetrator together, then we see that there are whole dysfunctional social systems that encourage and perpetuate this. That may sound like liberal political crap, but I see it as dependent origination.
JamyangTashi wrote:
untxi wrote:I don't disagree with you. My counter is that the gender politics are already in the sangha. If lay people are gay bashing their renunciates, teachers forcing themselves on women, people bashing gays and women in internet forums-- the politics are already here. They've been here. Long been here. This is all an attempt to fillet through it to clean it up. Maybe not the method? Like I said, I'm open to different languages.
These improper behaviors that arise from people deciding how to act based on perceived identities are unlikely to be solved by encouraging strong perception of identities. Focusing on the improper behavior and the greed, hatred, and ignorance that leads to that improper behavior seems to be more effective. No identity group deserves more protection from harm than any other group. Such views appear to have caused this problem in the first place, and as such seem unlikely to be the means to solve the problem.
I think where we disagree here is that nobody is encouraging anyone to adopt any "perceptions of identities". These identities exist from their own side. LGBTQIA-- this is how some people identify. I've known people, in real life or on line, who fit all of these categories. They already exist. They just want to be known to exist. As Johnny Dangerous has pointed out, and it's true, not every sex/gender minority accepts these categories themselves-- but many do.

I would like to agree with you, Jamyang Tashi. I gave up sex/gender activism when I became a Buddhist. I figured the practice would just fix everything. Getting rid of the three poisons. Then I saw people using the dharma to justify their hatred of people, generally women and LBGTQIA people. And thus I'm talking about this.
JamyangTashi wrote:
untxi wrote:What I don't think is a reasonable response is to expect government and legislation to have any impact on this. If I were in Iceland or Sweden I would think differently, but not in America-- a hegemony. There is a huge difference between what is ethical and what is legal. The legal is not necessarily ethical, and when it is, it is a small subset of the ethical.
If laws and policies can't solve the problem, what will? Trying to convert everyone to a shared ethical vision which is universally maintained with dedication is a pleasing utopian vision, but it doesn't sound like a practical solution to the immediate problems.
If you believe laws and policies solve social problems, ask people of color who are abused and even killed by the civil servants charged to protect them. The fact that police won't even respond to calls in certain neighborhoods. The fact that the color of your skin has more to do with your sentencing than the amount of drugs you were carrying. Or the fact that a huge proportion of women won't report sexual violence because they don't want to deal with the degradation the criminal justice system puts them through, or the fact that LGBTQIA people routinely experience violence and humiliation by the police.

It's nice to think we're post-class/race/gender, but we're not.

What to do? Dharma practice. Grassroots activism. Talking to people. In my own case, I have been involved with certain issues, violence against women, reproductive rights, peer counselling men who committed gender violence, working to block certain types of misogynistic and queer phobic legislation. In general, examining every intersectional aspect of culture, religion, class, race, sex, and gender possible.
JamyangTashi wrote:
untxi wrote:There are causes of happiness and suffering. The only "problem" with privilege is that when it isn't recognized, or when it's denied, it becomes a method of exploiting and oppressing people. The white Americans who kept slaves felt completely justified in what they were doing. The Bible and various social and political justified it. What actually allowed it in the end was a failure to identify privilege and its implications-- and thus exploiting privilege.
Slavery was not made possible by denying or failing to recognize privilege. It was made possible by beating people, tying them up, threatening them with death, and locking them in confined places. In order to solve slavery, there was no need to consider the privilege of not being beaten, tied up, threatened with death, and locked in confined places. Instead, it was only necessary to recognize that these things were harmful, unnecessary, ultimately unjustifiable. Privilege is not involved in exploiting and oppressing people. Exploiting and oppressing people is. It's possible to have compassion and consider things from other people's perspective by understanding the specific details of a situation and not fixating on an abstract category of privilege.
Well, here 100% disagree. It is the failure to recognize various forms of privilege that empowers people to harm others. What you are proposing, in my language, is like saying that it's not the three poisons that caused slavery, it's people beating people and hurting people.

As I've explained in other aspects of this thread, my analysis of privilege isn't a *clunk* "check your privilege at the door" type of thing that perhaps some are accustomed to. Integrated into Buddhist practice it is about deepening one's experience of the small scope of the lam rim, exchanging self and others, the four thoughts, while using tools that are borrowed from social justice. Just as applicable to dharma as social justice.
JamyangTashi wrote:
untxi wrote:Again-- if there's a better language to discuss this in, let me know. I don't care what politics people embrace. If Ramen soup makes people cool and accepting-- go for it. Unless you're hypertensive.
The most effective language is to discuss the problems that actually need to be solved by describing those problems and ways to solve them. If spreading hateful rumors is a problem, talk about spreading hateful rumors. If rape is a problem, talk about rape. If violence is a problem, talk about violence. If economic disadvantage is a problem, talk about economic disadvantage. If unnecessary or irrelevant questions on government forms is a problem, talk about unnecessary or irrelevant questions on government forms. None of these problems require a discussion of identity or privilege, and bringing concepts of identity and privilege into the discussion seems to just distract from the actual problems to be solved. Violence is an equally significant problem regardless of the identity of the recipient or the privilege of the perpetrator. The same goes for the rest of the problems. Given that some of these problems arise from people focusing too much on perceptions of identity in the first place, it doesn't seem that focusing on perceptions of identity is the path to their solution. If anything, it encourages the kind of divisive thinking and "us and them" mentality that feeds the greed, hatred, and ignorance that results in these inappropriate behaviors.
[/quote]

Again, this is where we can talk about the victim or the perpetrator. It's not women that make misogyny an issue-- it's people who, for whatever reason, make the female sex a focus of violence and oppression. It's not LBGTQIA people who make sex/gender an issue-- it's people who, for whatever reason, have problems with gay, trans and queer people.

As I explained in another post-- this whole discussion got started after I posted a few graphics about sex/gender with the comments that they might be useful. Not an insistence that anyone say/do/think/believe/become anything-- and then people piled on. And before that, some very disturbing misogynistic and queer phobic statements were made on this forum that were allowed to pass for some time. A suggestion has been made to modify the ToS. I have spoken to others from this board in PM and off the board. Some straight women. Some LBGTQIA. And there are others disturbed by that too. This forum, like many Buddhist forums, appears to be soft on certain types of improper speech.

What I'd really like to do, is take this back to where I originally intended-- which is what Ven. J. Khedrup picked up on and commented to-- discussing all of this in the context of the fundamental teachings of the tradition.

-Unxti
JamyangTashi
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Re: Your gender and sexuality

Post by JamyangTashi »

untxi wrote: I would like to agree with you, Jamyang Tashi. I gave up sex/gender activism when I became a Buddhist. I figured the practice would just fix everything. Getting rid of the three poisons. Then I saw people using the dharma to justify their hatred of people, generally women and LBGTQIA people. And thus I'm talking about this.
Hatred, of course, is just one of the three poisons. The Dharma does not justify hatred, it is a teaching to eliminate hatred. Using the name of the Dharma to justify hatred implies a serious misunderstanding of Dharma. Fixing that misunderstanding of Dharma does not depend on any particular identities, just clarifying the Dharma out of compassion for the situation of someone harming themselves and others with hatred.
untxi wrote: If you believe laws and policies solve social problems, ask people of color who are abused and even killed by the civil servants charged to protect them. The fact that police won't even respond to calls in certain neighborhoods. The fact that the color of your skin has more to do with your sentencing than the amount of drugs you were carrying. Or the fact that a huge proportion of women won't report sexual violence because they don't want to deal with the degradation the criminal justice system puts them through, or the fact that LGBTQIA people routinely experience violence and humiliation by the police.
These problems are cases of laws and policies not being properly enforced or laws and policies not being properly written in the first place. This doesn't mean that laws and policies aren't useful at all. Certainly they aren't a complete fix, but they can be better than nothing in some cases. Having the right laws and policies in place makes can make it easier to deal with misbehavior or at least to escape its influence.
untxi wrote: What to do? Dharma practice. Grassroots activism. Talking to people. In my own case, I have been involved with certain issues, violence against women, reproductive rights, peer counselling men who committed gender violence, working to block certain types of misogynistic and queer phobic legislation. In general, examining every intersectional aspect of culture, religion, class, race, sex, and gender possible.
Interesting that working to affect the legislative process is listed here. Perhaps this suggests that having better laws and policies can improve the situation. Grassroots approaches to try to change as many minds as possible and heal as many wounds as possible is certainly beneficial. If the three poisons could be eliminated in all people, there would no longer be any need for laws or policies to address such concerns. A lasting solution definitely requires a change in the minds and hearts of the population, and can not come about simply through legal mechanisms.
untxi wrote: Well, here 100% disagree. It is the failure to recognize various forms of privilege that empowers people to harm others. What you are proposing, in my language, is like saying that it's not the three poisons that caused slavery, it's people beating people and hurting people.
Beating and hurting people come about from the three poisons, but privilege is not one of the three poisons. People who recognize their privilege can still behave in unwholesome ways, and people who have never heard of privilege can still behave in compassionate and wholesome ways. It just doesn't seem related as a cause, but merely as a description. It seems likely that many slave owners were fully aware of their privilege and enjoyed it while continuing to behave in unwholesome ways towards other humans. If they had instead focused on eliminating the three poisons, perhaps their behavior would have changed.
untxi wrote:What I'd really like to do, is take this back to where I originally intended-- which is what Ven. J. Khedrup picked up on and commented to-- discussing all of this in the context of the fundamental teachings of the tradition.
It seems that in the context of the teachings, it comes down to focusing on the three poisons and not fueling attachment to a sense of identity. Any human that can hear and contemplate the teachings is capable of making progress with the Dharma. We all come to the Dharma with an identity that hinders us and with the three poisons creating suffering. The fundamental teachings of the four noble truths and the eightfold path apply to everyone. One way that the situation of misbehavior can be improved is to first apply the teachings in our own lives to understand them and reduce suffering, and then to provide an example and inspiration to others and encourage anyone who is interested in learning more and practicing the teachings. The extent to which gender is mentioned in the Vinaya appears to be solely for the purposes of creating an environment conducive to eliminating lust. The separation of the male and female renunciate groups provides an environment that reduces lustful temptation for the heterosexual majority. Finding an environment that is conducive to one's vows is inherently more difficult for people who are attracted to their own body type because this seems to eliminate communal living as an option. In the case of a hermitage there is no problem for anyone, but generally when living in dependence upon a preceptor shortly after ordination it's difficult to be properly trained apart from a communal living situation. Regarding outward expression of gender norms, there doesn't seem to be much cause for concern since there isn't a lot of room for fashion or hair style choice when wearing robes and shaving the head. For a lay practitioner, the issues related to ordination and living in dependence on a preceptor aren't so important.
JKhedrup wrote: Whether a monk or nun is successful in maintaining celibacy I think has less to do with their orientation that is has to do with their level of natural sex drive as well as ability to control their mind. Some people are just generally less sexual, others are very lusty.
JKhedrup wrote: If you can control yourself, then you are suitable for ordination. If the environment where you find yourself makes this difficult (ie as a monk in dharma centre surrounded by attractive women), you should request your teacher to place you in an environment more conducive to your vows. If the lustful energy becomes completely unmanageable for a longer period, of course in my opinion the best option would be to disrobe.
zsc
Posts: 79
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Re: Your gender and sexuality

Post by zsc »

untxi wrote: What I'd really like to do, is take this back to where I originally intended-- which is what Ven. J. Khedrup picked up on and commented to-- discussing all of this in the context of the fundamental teachings of the tradition.

-Unxti
Being a PL Buddhist, at first this seemed like a relatively simple thing for me--chant and the rest will follow. This is an open and accepting path, for anyone. You don't even have to be a Buddhist. No need to think about anything else like race, gender, or sexual orientation.

The more and more I practice, the more I see the complexity in its simplicity. As I accept who has been there all along, wisdom and compassion, I put my personhood into the hands of unconditional love. I'm giving it up. But I find as I did this, I had to unpack a lot of my experiences, and my experiences dealing with misogyny and other forms of bigotry inevitably come up, either whether I've been on the receiving end or doling it out. It's apart of my experience as any other aspect. Now it seems like kind of a paradox, where PL Buddhism says at first "Realize you are limited by the age dharmic decline", and as people get deeper into the practice, the plot twist comes: "Surprise! You are actually okay but you didn't know it yet."

Accepting our experiences naturally come with accepting how your gender and sexuality, as well as other aspects of yourself, shape them. Then, be fine with them.

As far as teachings of other traditions, my explanation above probably lacks all the buddhisty terms we love so it may not count, but I don't recognize where someone in any way would be inferior or superior based on his/her gender and/or sexuality. I don't really see it in the fundamentals of other Buddhist teachings either. What I usually think of are more cultural aspects of applying the teachings.

For example, claims that Buddhism teaches a hierarchy of biological sex because of the discourses that say male rebirth is superior to a female rebirth. People who use this reasoning are already contradicting themselves: if Buddhism rejects the notion that anything samsaric has an independent quality that makes that concept "real", then how does a "real" hierarchy exist? As I touched on elsewhere, writers examining this point out that being a man in that time was more conducive to practice than being a woman due to the expected duties, and men were granted more access to education. In that context, a male rebirth was more fortunate than a female one. Not because there is something inherently superior about simply being a man, but the realities of society put one above the other (privilege). If anything, the discourses are just honest and pragmatic about that. The authorities who justified their misogyny with these discourses just went of the rails, according to authors who have studied this issue in more depth.

But, notice that these teachings address how people actually live their lives. Since gender and sexuality have no inherent qualia within practice, a lot of the issues come around to how we all frame and react to people with any gender and/or sexual identity. So I don't know how you can address gender and sexuality within Buddhist practice without acknowledging that often, as others have already pointed out, people experience practice differently, and sometimes in harmful ways, due to how they are framed and interacted with based on their gender and sexuality. Since bigotry has no justification within the teachings, often it is due to conditioned social factors, so how can we ignore those factors when discussing this?

Buddhas and Boddhisattvas don't actually have a gender; the appearance of gender is provisional, because of their love for all beings. I don't see something in the teachings itself that take up gender and sexuality issues and the capacity to practice, outside of celibacy vs. married life vs. monastic marriage. But Buddhism isn't a relic. It's made up of living traditions that live people actually practice, so where they are within that network of humanity colors how they see the issue.

We like to pretend that we are being objective, but we don't exist in a vacuum, nor do we practice in one. Asserting some kind of independent qualia to our thinking about this is flawed from the beginning, even if we don't realize it. Just like the saying "fish don't know they are underwater", how we relate to each other, those social features are brought to the table when we discuss doctrine even if we don't know it.

Divorce the people from the temple, and you just have a museum.

Or an alternate metaphor: Discussing gender and sexuality in Buddhist doctrine can be like museums. Museums are educational, what is restored is beautiful and speaks to us, but even then, museums are nothing without viewers. These viewers all have their histories and understandings that will shape the message of a particular piece or exhibit. Because we are all discussing this, we all bring something to the discussion by virtue of just being us. Without acknowledging what we bring to the discussion, it is incomplete.

I'm really curious about how people have observed others using the dharma to justify bigotry, because all I see is them reading through a bigoted lens.
Last edited by zsc on Sat Mar 29, 2014 4:51 am, edited 2 times in total.
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untxi
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Re: Your gender and sexuality

Post by untxi »

This discussion has been very interesting and useful in many ways, both in the comments made on the forum and outside of it in PM and private conversation. Thanks.

What it clarifies for me is how difficult it is to discuss these things, particularly in intersection with Buddhism.

After all, right at the heart of Buddhism is the practice of deconstructing the fiction of self, so what's the point of focusing on the self at all, not to mention aspects of self that one could debate don't really exist?... things that are social constructs or fictions of academics. Certainly, what is the point of asserting any self-identity in a social or political sense? That has to be contrary to Buddhist practice, doesn't it? At the heart of Buddhist thought is the truth that dualistic thinking and the categories it creates, creates strife, so what can be the point of creating taxonomies of sex and gender experience? That certainly can't help, can it? The dharma is also very clear in that all suffering comes from self cherishing, and all negative emotions have their root in the three poisons-- so isn't that enough? Why complicate it?

Thought I've debated against that point, it's actually a good point. It's the most fundamental and grounding point. Does anything need to be discussed or done at all?

In the end we all have to answer that for ourselves. It's a personal choice.

For me... Yes. Something needs to be done. In our society and in our sanghas. Let's not even entertain the details-- I say that because it's always the advocate, the ally, the victim, who is, in the end, accused of making something an issue of sex/gender-- not the person perpetuating the sex/gender violence.

I'll rape you, but you're the one hung up on sex when you demand justice and dignity for women.
I'll call you a disgusting queer, but you're the one hung up on gender when you demand being human.

We've just seen that go down on this board. A few of us speaking out because of a run of some very dark and ugly sex/gender language-- and we're the ones with sex/gender problems for speaking up about it. Not the sick misogynists and homophobes that spit it.

How awesome is that.

FINIS
Untxi se fait
JamyangTashi
Posts: 102
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Re: Your gender and sexuality

Post by JamyangTashi »

untxi wrote: I'll rape you, but you're the one hung up on sex when you demand justice and dignity for women.
I'll call you a disgusting queer, but you're the one hung up on gender when you demand being human.
Don't men who get raped deserve justice and dignity, too? If we demand justice and dignity for women and men, why not save a few words and demand justice and dignity for everyone?

Don't heterosexual people get insulted and disrespected, too? If we demand justice and dignity for queers and heterosexuals, why not save a few words and demand justice and dignity for every human?

Justice and dignity for all humans is an ideal worth discussing and acting to bring about.

When one person has another problem with hate, and another person is clinging to a sense of identity tied up with the five skandhas, both people are making mistakes that the Dharma can help to solve. Often in a disagreement both sides are wrong, but it's easy to fool oneself into thinking that if the other side is wrong then somehow our side must be right. The Dharma can help to show that both sides have some work to do.
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