"Even though it is not as important as a woman’s other sacred qualities, for a man, female loveliness is one of life’s most captivating gifts. Just one glimpse of a woman’s electrifying eyes, shiny hair, graceful form and swinging walk can bring more energy to a man’s soul than all the money, ideas or power the world has to offer. A single smile can jolt a man out of his mental preoccupations and put him in touch with the wonder of the physical world, which - after all - is the only world we actually inhabit. And working to please such a woman can bring more character transformation than all the scripture-reading in the world."
"Reflections of a Worldly Monk"
Yesterday, I taught my final class in Contemplative Christianity for the semester. And - my, oh my - what a challenging semester it was! Among other things, I received a SCATHING reflection paper from a student, critiquing the above passage written in a text I wrote for use in the class.
The student told me that this passage is "hopelessly sexist" and that it is also "oppressively heteronormative" because I failed to place the qualifier "heterosexual" before the word "man." She told me basically that I should feel ashamed of myself and of how bad I make a reader like her feel when encountering a passage such as this.
For the record, if I understand correctly, a sexist attitude would in reality claim that women should be valued FIRST AND FOREMOST for their beauty, a position that would denigrate their positive spiritual and personality traits. In addition, In response to the "oppressively heteronormative" accusation, I will indeed make the edit to include the word "heterosexual."
In any case, the university is currently making radical social changes and seems to expect all of us faculty members to alter our verbiage ON A DIME - RIGHT NOW - after years of emphasizing the transformative Buddhist teaching which understands that distinctions are not as real as the reality of an underlying Oneness or Dharmakaya. Will I be able to change fast enough, or radically enough? We'll see. But at least I learned a new label for myself. Now I know that I am considered a "cis-gender" person :)
Photo: Desert Paintbrush, Arches National Park, UT, April 23, 2016
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Stephen Hatch, M.A. is a spiritual teacher and photographer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His approach is contemplative, inter-spiritual, and Earth-based.