Title: Tibetan Women – Where do they stand?
By: Tenpa Dugdak
Published: August 17th, 2005
“Women are not supported or encouraged by our society as much as men.”
I got an email request to put this article up for discussion so here it is. The article talks about the unequal treatment of Tibetan women in current Tibetan society, and the hypocrisy it presents.
–“Tibetan women are merely seen as the ones who wash dishes or do the laundry and cooking. Don’t you think it’s right time to move from this sort of stereotype? It is a shame that we are losing the abilities of Tibetan women not because they are not competent but because they are not given a chance. This sort of thing is happening in Tibetan families all over the world, not just in Tibet. Recently I visited a Tibetan family and lucky me, momos were being prepared. Of course I was asked to stay. The husband was sitting on the sofa, sipping his tea while his wife prepared the momos. I gave her a hand and later she thanked me for helping her. The husband never got up to help.”
–“Just look around your community and I bet everyone would talk about a woman’s goodness in terms of how quiet she is or how shy she is, not because she is strong and confident. So, whose fault it that? If our society suffers from not having enough women principals, doctors, and Kalons then it is our society’s fault, not the fault of individual women.”
*I don’t think its fair for him to say that it is always completely a society’s fault if it suffers from not having enough successful women. A society or community has a part to play in supporting and allowing an individual to succeed but the individual still has his or her own responsibility and part to play in his or her own success. Of course I know that there are cases where a society is at complete fault for not having any successful or women with equal social standing as men.
–“When I was in school I loved ‘Shating‘ because there are to me back then there were lots and lots of negative things about women. But now it just disgusts me having been taught such things in school. Having said that, one Tibetan here told me that Shating is actually intended for monks and I thought that does make sense but then why teach this in school where the system is co-educational? It is psychological and emotional abuse for Tibetan women.”
-“I heard this incidence where one nunnery had invited a ‘Rinpoche‘ to their nunnery to give them a blessing and teachings. Upon his arrival he said to them, ‘ Pray hard in this life in order to be re-born as a male’. What a hypocrite!”
–“The word ‘kaimein‘ means inferior of birth. One of my friends told me that this word was used in one part of Tibet and now it has spread across the Tibetan Community in India. So, it might be a good idea next time to think twice before using this word to describe a woman, as this is not a Tibetan Buddhist word. The word ‘nigger’ is no longer used in western society unless purposely used to discriminate against black people so ‘kaimein‘ has to go as it too is clearly discriminatory against women and it is abusive”.
*I wrote in an earlier post that the word ‘Kaimein‘ or ‘Kye-men’ means inferior birth, just as it does in this excerpt, but someone commented that this isn’t the case and that it actually is an old word for the the stomach area of a woman. I’m still not 100% sure on which etymology(true meaning) is correct. Also the word ‘nigger’ is still in use in western society since we hear it in music and the media and still it is used in a non-discriminatory way, so I would say his statement is false.
Comment on what you think of this article by Tenpa Dugdak, do you agree with his article? Is he overgeneralizing the situation? Is Tibetan society less equal then Western society like the author states? (ex:”I really do think we can learn something about the equal treatment of woman from the west.”) Does religion create a sexist attitude towards women, like the belief of only being able to achieve enlightenment as a male? Should the word ‘kaimein‘ be completely banned or discouraged from use in the Tibetan language?