Buddhist Feminisms and Femininities

Edited by Karma Lekshe Tsomo

Subjects: Buddhism, Feminist, Gender Studies, Women In Religion, Asian Religion And Philosophy
Hardcover : 9781438472553, 354 pages, January 2019
Paperback : 9781438472560, 354 pages, July 2019

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Table of contents


Introduction: Conceptualizing Buddhist Feminisms and Images of the Feminine
Karma Lekshe Tsomo

Part I: Buddhist Feminisms: Texts and Communities

1.   Reimagining Buddhist Women in India
Karen Lang

2.   The Religious Life of Buddhist Women in Chosŏn Korea
Eun-su Cho

3.   Raichō Hiratsuka and Socially Engaged Buddhism      
Christine A. James

4.   A “Great Man” is No Longer Gendered: The Gender Identity and Practice of Chan Nuns in Contemporary Taiwan
Ching-ning Wang (Chang-shen Shih)
5.   Sikkhamats: The Aesthetics of Asoke Ascetics
Robekkah L. Ritchie

6.   New Buddhist Women Across Borders: Buddhist Influences and Interactions in Alternative Histories of Global Feminisms
Amy Holmes-Tagchungdarpa

Part II: Buddhist Femininities: Demystifying the Essential Feminine

7.   Only Skin Deep? Female Embodiment and the Paradox of Beauty in Indian Buddhism
Lisa J. Battaglia

8.   Conflicts and Compromises: The Relationship between the Nuns of Daihongan and the Monks of Daikanjin within the Zenkōji Temple Complex
Matthew Mitchell

9.   Gendered Hagiography in Tibet: Comparing Clerical Representations of the Female Visionary, Khandro Tāre Lhamo
Holly Gayley

10.   Feminine Identities in Buddhist Chöd
Michelle J. Sorensen

11.   Mindfully Feminine? The Role of Meditation in the Production and the Marketing of Gendered Lifestyles
Jeff Wilson

Insights and Imaginations: An Epilogue
Karma Lekshe Tsomo


Adds new voices to the feminist conversation and brings a rich variety of diverse approaches to Buddhist women’s identities, “the feminine,” and Buddhist feminism.


Silver Medalist, 2020 Independent Publisher Book Awards in the Religion (Eastern/Western) Category

This groundbreaking book explores Buddhist thought and culture, from multiple Buddhist perspectives, as sources for feminist reflection and social action. Too often, when writers apply terms such as "woman," "femininity," and "feminism" to Buddhist texts and contexts, they begin with models of feminist thinking that foreground questions and concerns arising from Western experience. This oversight has led to many facile assumptions, denials, and oversimplifications that ignore women's diverse social and historical contexts. But now, with the tools of feminist analysis that have developed in recent decades, constructs of the feminine in Buddhist texts, imagery, and philosophy can be examined—with the acknowledgment that there are limitations to applying these theoretical paradigms to other cultures. Contributors to this volume offer a feminist analysis, which integrates gender theory and Buddhist perspectives, to Buddhist texts and women's narratives from Asia. How do Buddhist concepts of self and no-self intersect with concepts of gender identity, especially for women? How are the female body, sexuality, and femininity constructed (and contested) in diverse Buddhist contexts? How might power and gender identity be perceived differently through a Buddhist lens? By exploring feminist approaches and representations of "the feminine," including persistent questions about women's identities as householders and renunciants, this book helps us to understand how Buddhist influences on attitudes toward women, and how feminist thinking from other parts of the world, can inform and enlarge contemporary discussions of feminism.

Karma Lekshe Tsomo is Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of San Diego. Her many books include Eminent Buddhist Women and Buddhist Women Across Cultures: Realizations, each published by SUNY Press.


"This volume takes an important step toward critically engaging and pushing back against feminist theories, thinking of Buddhist women as complex political, economic, sexual, intellectual players in global Buddhism. " — H-Net Reviews (H-Buddhism)

"Building on a long career of advocacy for women and gender equality in Buddhism, Karma Lekshe Tsomo seeks to bring together scholars into conversation and present a critical, fresh reflection on the indigenous and localized forms of feminism and femininity in Buddhist communities around the world … Works such as Buddhist Feminisms and Femininities show us how, through sympathetic understanding and learned appreciation across cultural contexts, we begin to connect self and others and make sense of human lives in their full complexity. " — Lion's Roar

"At the vanguard of new global feminist work in religion, the contributors to this collection bring their textual, historical, and ethnographic expertise to the task of exploring the particular ways that distinctively Asian feminisms are developing. " — CHOICE