Buddhist perspective on gender issue and Khmer female status in society

Posted by: | Posted on: December 28, 2011

Dhamma, in its other meaning, means nature. Nibbana or Enlightenment means practitioners are able to adapt, to adjust, to realize, and to apprehend closely to the nature. Sometime, the effort of overcoming the nature, is just a camouflage of self-destruction. Modern technology might not be able to protect the future decline of human beings by its modern technology. Academia called it cycle of repercussions. With this basic understanding, women can be equally recognized by their effort and mentality, but not by natural dependency and physically built-up. It is not only between women and men, all beings are diverse and different.

Dear Lok Krou Sotheara et al;

Of course, I do agree that a Khmer saying of satrey cannot move around the stove is not a politically correct one. We should change it to “satrey is the mother of the stove”.

It is murky for Khmer study in glancing at the gender issue: male and female is equal, not equal, neutral; which come first? Once I believe in the past, Khmer female is the leader and the founder of this nation, and many words used in Khmer words start with female first such as me-srok, me-taep, me-kum etc. However, later on I learn from some of our scholar that these words doesn’t reflect to female at all, so!!

Khmer civilization stemmed from both Hinduism and Buddhism. For Hinduism, like we all know, caste system is strongly practiced and gender equality is not promoted. For Lord Buddha, who is said a reformer of Hinduism, caste system has been altered, female status has been raised, superstitious belief has been clearly expounded…etc

According to Vinaya Tipitaka, Kesa-kotamii, Buddha’s fostering mother, was firstly admitted to be ordained but Bhikkhuni must comply with 311 codes of conduct. This number is higher than Bhikkhu (227) by just extending some important rules such as Bhikkhuni cannot live among only female, they must live side by side with Bhikkhu etc. This happened a lot in India in the past as many Bhikkhuni were raped by the males etc. In other rule, Bhikkhuni physical change is more complicate than Bhikkhu which this issue is very critical. Remember that the main goal for laying down Vinaya is for: unity, good health, security and prosperity etc.

Lord Buddha didn’t lay down those rules on a vertical perspective. All the rules or Vinaya were/was horizontally amended. I think Kesakotami was a leader for women caucus to lay down all those rules for Bhikkhuni. Lord Buddha might not pay extra time to learn about physical health and reproduction of women.

Dhamma, in its other meaning, means nature. Nibbana or Enlightenment means practitioners are able to adapt, to adjust, to realize, and to apprehend closely to the nature. Sometime, the effort of overcoming the nature, is just a camouflage of self-destruction. Modern technology might not be able to protect the future decline of human beings by its modern technology. Academia called it cycle of repercussions. With this basic understanding, women can be equally recognized by their effort and mentality, but not by natural dependency and physically built-up. It is not only between women and men, all beings are diverse and different.

Buddha said “Kamam Satte Vibhajati = all beings are diverse and different by their own action/uniqueness”.

With Metta and Peace,

Sophoan