Friday, August 22, 2008


Checking out some of the Blogissatva 2007 Awards, I became more and more hopeful of finding a woman among them. So it was that on "Progressive Buddhism" (Best new blog 2007) I clicked on a long, post titled "Women, Buddhism and the Internet" by Tom Armstrong.

He comments accurately, "Both the oceanic blogosphere . . . and Buddhist webspaces, generally, are in overwhelming proportion managed, written and visited by males." With reference to a Pew report, he explains that this way and that -- you can read it. He includes an interesting paragraph on great women buddhobloggers who have quit (and by the way, the last post on this site is dated July 7), and regrets the loss.

Then he lost me by saying "In one sense it seems that the problem is clearly THE WOMEN'S FAULT!!!" I don't know what I like best, the caps or the three exclamation points. Or maybe the adjectives in the next paragraph: "Similarly, some snarling complaints that meatspace sanghas are overrun my [sic] old white men are specious." So often, language betrays us.

No, what I liked most of all was not the above, but the memory it brought forth. Just a few years ago my father-in-law sat at my dining room table and told us a very long, detailed, carefully crafted story of a long-ago effort in his small town to give opportunity to "the blacks" through the schools. It ended with the statement, delivered in a sort of holy hush: "And you know---they wouldn't take the opportunity." The rising voice explained, "They had every chance." And on it went. Being wise in the ways of racists, I just cleared the table.

I hang around with other educated women, and I notice it is true that they aren't blogging or reading this kind of thing. Their Buddhist activity is not about talking, but about bringing homemade soup or sunflowers when you're sick, about thank-you cards and watching each other's cat. Bodhissatva work.

They have all had to listen to plenty of long, windy male explanations of everything in their life, and some still do, from fathers and husbands and bosses. In particular, these women would not like to be told that the significant wage gap and the heavy glass ceiling that closes off top jobs is All Our Fault. My friends are responsible and intelligent, and would love to earn as much as men do, especially the women who have ended up raising and supporting their children, and sometimes their grandchildren, alone.

They don't like to debate and discuss, either, and would probably consider arguing with this guy useless, like some other male amusements, such as war.

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