Sexism in Tibetan Society

Traditionally Tibetan Tibetan women enjoyed more equality compared to women from other parts of Asia. But this is because women from other parts of Asia were treated very badly, for example, the practice of foot binding in China. However sexism did exist even in Tibetan belief, “Tibetans traditionally explained their own origins as rooted in the marriage of a monkey and a mountain ogress. Tibetans who display compassion, moderation, intelligence, and wisdom were said to take after their fathers, while Tibetans who were “red-faced, fond of sinful pursuits, and very stubborn”were said to take after their mothers.” Also even currently in Tibetan monasteries there are no high ranking nuns. Nun’s are largely only taught basic teaching and how to recite prayers and are not given the opportunity or encouraged to ascend to the higher Buddhist positions. However this is currently changing according to the Dalai Lama.

So my question is: Does sexism still exist today in Tibetan society? In comparison with other societies is it worse or better? Is it getting better? Give specific examples if you can.

9 thoughts on “Sexism in Tibetan Society

  1. Bhumo Gyalo

    Yes and very much alive, but compared to many other societies, it is much better. I grew up helping my mom while my brothers didnot help at all. As a girl, we are expected to do the house chores such as cooking, dishwashing, washing clothes etc.
    I think it is better now even though I wouldnot be suprised if many of the young girls today are doing the same thing that I used to do. With education spreading in the community, I think things are looking up. With many women better educated than men, women are fighting for their rights and will not resign to outdated beliefs. I remember praying to be born as a boy in next life because thats what is supposed to get you closer to enlightenment! I could go on but I think I have answered your basic curiosities. Didn’t I?

  2. Jigme32

    Yea I have noticed some Tibetans families that are like that where they expect the girls to do all the chores or favor the son so much more but me personally I don’t know too much about it since I grew up with only an older brother and no sisters. But I never had to really do many chores besides cutting the lawn or occasionally dishes so I guess that could be proof of sexism possibly. But then again my pala did do chores, maybe not as much as my amala though, so maybe it just means I was a lucky spoiled kid.

    However I think there is an explanation for this differential treatment. At first you might be quick to say its sexist since in these specific cases tibetan girls are made to do all this housework while their brothers are not. But then the other way to look at it is Tibetan girls who are given this treatment are at an advantage for the future since they learn responsibilty and the concept of working at a younger age. Also another thing I want to say, which might anger some, is that its just housework. What I mean by that is that its not as if these girls are doing back breaking work 24 hours a day and denied to go to school and get an education or future, right?

    In fact, in my experience it seems as though it is the Tibetan females who are getting the better post-highschool educations and also being more involved in Tibetan issues. So maybe this differential treatment towards Tibetan girls is infact sexist to Tibetan boys since Tibetan girls seem to be getting a better resulting outcome then Tibetan boys.

  3. tsering

    i think sexist view still might be strong in rural tibetan settlements, but that favours girls in some other ways. for instance… most of places i know, girls usually go to colleges and then end up with educational jobs but guys and i mean most guys will go to places like army, vocational training and even to tibet as a tourist guide. even over here, most tib. girls go to university or atleast college… and boys at most will go to college or vocational training. most of them just hang around earning money and spending it for immediate neccessaries.

  4. tib starrrr

    it’s hard to really say, growing up in my family, i never really felt like i was treated differntly from my brother, we both played a gazillion sports, both were expected to do well in school, do dishes, and everything else equally. we were both expected to come home at a decent hour at night and to clean the house. if anything, i used sexism in my favour, ex. moving things/carring heavy things, i’d pretend i was too weak to carry them…muahahhaha,,, however,,, this is me growing up in canada, but as i get to know more and more tibetans who have not grown up in canada, i feel like there is kind of a barrier between the sexes, with ingee/western tibetan boys, i feel like i’m their equal when i’m talking to them, but sometimes when i’m with non-western tib boys, i feel like there is a barrier, or an expectation to act girlier… i dunno.. is it just me???

  5. Jigme32

    What do you mean by “act girlier” though? Do you mean like doing things that traditionally women do or do you mean like, for lack of a better term, “acting more feminine”.

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