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Buddhism After Patriarchy: A Feminist History, Analysis, and Reconstruction of Buddhism Paperback – November 17, 1992

4.2 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

I cannot say enough in praise of this book. It is well balanced, balancing creative insightful thinking with solid scholarship, and it is fascinating a real page-turner. (I m not kidding!) Grace G. Burford
The power of this book comes from the combination of the passion and analytic skill that Gross brings to this feminist reconstruction of the Buddhist tradition. It is a book that should inform all introductory classes on Buddhism. Through a reexamination of basic texts, Gross describes women s experiences in different cultures and epochs, and shows their relevance for the Buddha s Path to Enlightenment as well as for the social roles and images of women in different times and places. Frederick J. Streng, Southern Methodist University
Gross has written the magnum opus of feminist critique and revisioning of Buddhism. This has great theoretical and practical significance for feminist theology in its global inter-faith dialogue. The particular merit of this book is its bridging of high quality scholarship and accessibility to the non-expert. Rosemary Radford Ruether, Garrett Theological Seminary and Northwestern University
The book will fill a real, indeed urgent, need and be of great service to many Buddhists and students, scholars and friends of Buddhism. Here are some of its many strengths: It clearly harvests years of impassioned study and experience, offers refreshingly bold, original and well-reasoned arguments, and deals with important questions that only a woman who is both a scholar and practitioner would adequately recognize. It appropriately combines both textual work and historical/anthropological perspectives, along with a clearly delineated feminist theoretical stance. It offers a valuable overview of the roles of women and discerning comparisons between them. The feminist analysis of key Buddhist concepts is excellent, especially issues of gender in relation to selflessness, emotions, nonduality. These burning issues for many Western women meeting Buddhism receive here very thoughtful, thorough, original treatment. The prophetic voice that Gross openly brings to the Buddhist tradition is welcome, moving and appropriate. Joanna R. Macy"

About the Author

Rita M. Gross is Professor of Comparative Studies in Religion at the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire. A former president of the Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies, she is the editor of Beyond Androcentrism: New Essays on Women and Religion, and with Nancy Falk, of Unspoken Worlds: Women's Religious Lives. She is also the author of numerous articles and essays on women and religion.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 376 pages
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press (November 17, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0791414043
  • ISBN-13: 978-0791414040
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #514,747 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Mark R. Seiler on November 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
I learned a great deal from this book.
Rita Gross, a professor in comparitive religion, does an excellent job in laying out a strategy by which to analyse Buddhism through an academic feminist viewpoint.
This book is not meant to be an introduction to Buddhism, it only briefly covers some of the key elements (history, 4 Noble Truths, Impermanence, Karma, selflessness.) There is also a section that details feminist theory, and schools of feminist thought, which I found very helpful.
For each of the elements of Buddhism, she gives several different feminist viewpoints, which allows the reader to better make up his/her mind on these issues.
Although she is critical of Buddhism as a whole, I believe Buddhism is based on questioning, and as the Buddha asked people to "see for themselves". Thus, I see this discussion as very healthy for the future of Buddhism.
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After noticing that most "spiritual" books I was reading were written by men and rarely - if ever - brought up issues of feminism, I began to seek out "spiritual" texts by women and, specifically, by feminist women. It's been a thrilling ride that, at some point, led me to the Therigatha. On Amazon's "suggested titles" link, this book came up and I'm so grateful. It answers a lot of questions and doubts I've been having and does so in a very pragmatic, academic-but-accessible way. A helpful emphasis of the text is on how Buddhist teachings, seen without their cultural (androcentric) baggage, can facilitate intimacy, interdependence, and community with others. Great stuff.
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Format: Paperback
Why I am not a Buddhist: A review of Buddhism after Patriarchy by Rita Gross
My heart goes out to Prajapati. One of the first Buddhists, a relative of Buddha, she created what Buddhism has to offer women, asked for more, for full equality within the religion. Gross documents how Prajapati did this. Yet when she writes about the origin of Buddhist patriarchy she says gender equality was "beyond the Indian imagination of the time," as if Prajapati did not exist.
Rita Gross badly wants a tradition she can respect, is nervous because the women's spirituality movement makes mistakes, does not want the full responsibility of reinventing ritual so it respects her. She stops short of calling Buddha on his big mistake, his failure to fully transcend gender, in practice as well as in theory. She takes the liberty of introducing the prophetic feminist voice to Buddhism, but can't seem to accept that taking authority means taking risks and being wrong, as wrong as Buddha. Buddhist patriarchy is responsible for much bad karma where its attitude to women is concerned. Gross does acknowledge that. Why should women be exempt from making mistakes on this scale? We are not, and will only have full authority over ourselves when we realise this. Gross finds it "unthinkable" that Buddhism would not refrain from harming women, then documents two and a half thousand years of sanctified oppression that says otherwise. I want to bonk Gross on the head, send her back to meditate again, until she can feel a ritual that works in a given moment, and realise it may never work again. Institutionalised religion, all of it, with its repetition of past successes, is both an impediment to spiritual progress, and essential to it.
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Format: Paperback
The author's attachment is causing her suffering. Clinging to the idea of a patriarchy is spreading hatred for men instead of being constructive about the idea that each gender should have equal opportunity to choose. Feminists believe that they are oppressed because because the genders are DIFFERENT. Indeed, they ARE different. The equality that feminists often call for is the subjugation of men in an attempt to exact revenge on a gender for the whole of history over the fact that each gender serves a DIFFERENT role in nature. If you want to be a CEO or the Dalai Lama, that's fine. If you're not allowed to SPECIFICALLY because of your gender (with proof) that's a problem. But the roles enacted by nature on each gender are (dare I say it) permanent. Or as close to permanent as anything can be.
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