A plan is afoot to plasterLondon buses with adverts urging the Pope to ordain women priests. It’s an interesting angle for the English to approach the pontiffs visit with, almost as if there weren’t more pressing matters with which to confront him. Then again, it would be too rude to embarrass him with messy issues like the concealment of child sex abuse by priests and the hierarchy, or their refusal to endorse the use of life saving condoms in Africa.
It’s safe to say that organised religions in general have not furthered the cause of women’s equality and emancipation.
But Buddhism has long been held as being the acceptable religion by many left leaning liberals, who would also count themselves in favour of gender equality.
It is therefore a bit depressing to note the Dalai Lama’s recent comments about the possibility of a woman succeeding him.
He begins well enough.
“The purpose of the incarnation is to serve people about dharma (faith). If the circumstances are such, female form is more useful, then why not?”
Unfortunately he then lets himself and all of man and woman-kind down with,
“And I also mentioned in case Dalai Lama’s incarnation one female comes then must be very attractive female. So the very reason, you see more influence to others, an ugly female then may not much effective,”
Was he joking? He has been known to get a bit giggly at times. Perhaps he just liked the idea of coming back as an attractive woman, presumably so he could spend the day touching his own breasts and looking in the mirror?
Even more depressingly, when this comment was posted on Facebook by the smart and funny Michael Nugent, of Ireland’s atheist society, another man (we will leave him unnamed, less he become the anti-feminist equivalent of the cat bin lady), responded with:
Well, to be fair, what he said was that an attractive woman would influence more people than an unattractive woman, so that is just being realistic.
When challenged he went on to say,
you are talking about what the world should be like, and I was talking about what it is like. Just because we “find a thought depressing” doesn’t mean it can’t be true. Wow, sound familiar? We atheists are telling people that every five minutes… Anyway, I was certainly surprised that the Dalai lama said that and thought it was shockingly rude, but rude is not the same as false. I guess his culture doesn’t have the same taboos about the same impolite-but-true statements that ours does.
So I suppose religion isn’t equality’s only foe. A total lack of belief in achieving it in our lifetime is hampering all our aspirations for equal pay and status. A recent poll by the Guardian newspaper found women in the UK could not expect equal pay till about 2067.
But never mind. If you are a Buddhist believer and live a good life perhaps you will be lucky enough to come back as a dung beetle in your next life.