What Was Buddha’s Issue with Sex and Women?

So naked, young women are shameful and go to Hell?

This is part II of my contribution to the Jaipur Literary Festival this year which focuses on Buddhism. You can read part I here.  It’s another excerpt from the Buddhist period  in my book  Sex and Power (Sect II, pp.67-110).  The central argument of my book is that the concepts of sexuality and sexual morality in any society keep changing over time.  And it is the dominant forces–social, political, economic or religious–in any period of time that determine how that society views women, sex and sexual morality.

In the Buddhist period which stretches from about 500B.C. to 100A.D. Buddhism was one of the most powerful institutions, and the teachings of the Buddha impacted on social thinking at many levels.  In the first excerpt from my book I talk about how it revolutionized the concept of class and caste based equality and social justice.  But by the same token, I discovered that  it also had a huge negative impact on social perceptions of gender, women and sex.  To me Buddha’s unreserved misogyny and prejudice towards women (more…)

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Why Women Politicians in India Grow Penises!

Indira Gandhi

Indira Gandhi with Indian women supporters

I was watching Eve Ensler, author of ‘Vagina Monlogues’ on an Indian T.V. channel around the time of the December 2012 Delhi Gang Rape uprisings, and she was asked what she thought might help stop violence against women in India.  One of her suggestions was what most western feminists advocate  often, “Get more women in.”  Into government, police – positions of power and decision making.

But the fact is that in India we’ve had women in positions of power for long — and this theory of women in power as a means of betterment of women just DOES NOT WORK IN INDIA!  After all we’ve had a female head of state, Indira Gandhi.  Her daughter-in-law, Sonia Gandhi, is the biggest political force in India, bigger than even the Prime Minister, India’s head-of-state, who she hand-picked for the position, and who she strings along like a puppet.  Indeed, she’s been voted the 6th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine, more powerful even than Michelle Obama!

But this is what is strange.  (more…)

How Men Think of Women and Sex

Hugh Hefner in his own words: “The notion that Playboy turns women into sex objects is ridiculous. Women are sex objects. If women weren’t sex objects, there wouldn’t be another generation.”

“Women have always been seen by [heterosexual men] as their exclusive property… ”  This is philosopher Michael Foucault’s thought on how western men think of women in terms of power and sexuality.  There are some more of his ideas (in red) below.  Foucault believed that sex determined power relationships between the genders, and the reason was because Western society considered sex as a science, something to be understood, revealed,  discovered and displayed unlike the East that regarded sex as an art, something that was natural and inherently powerful.  As an art it is not something to be discovered or acquired but rather something that is comfortably enjoyed.  Foucault believed that the Eastern view of sex as art meant not just enjoying it but also keeping it a secret because that is how its inherent power was protected.

I however do not agree with Foucault’s understanding of the Eastern approach to sex. (more…)

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