Gender equality campaigners have criticized the Dalai Lama for his suggestion that any potential female successor to his role “must be very, very attractive.”
In an interview, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists said there was no reason why a future Dalai Lama could not be a woman — but she would have to be good looking otherwise she would be “not much use.”
The 80-year-old’s remarks — which he made in an interview with the BBC reporter Clive Myrie, as he talked of succession, or reincarnation — provoked accusations of sexism that look set to plague the remainder of his tour of the UK, which began on Monday last week.
Since 1959, the Dalai Lama has lived in exile in Dharamsala, northern India. For about 300 years the Dalai Lamas, or their regents, have led the Tibetan government, but China has occupied Tibet since 1950 and has long insisted it will appoint any successor to the post.
The present, 14th Dalai Lama, whose original name was altered to Tenzin Gyatso, said his institution would continue only if it were the choice of the people of Tibet. Asked if the next “incarnation” could be female, he answered, “Yes!”
Both men laughed at the comment, which seemed at first to come off as a clumsy joke, and Myrie gave the Dalai Lama a chance to clarify his statement. The reporter asked whether he meant a female Dalai Lama would be very attractive?
“I mean, if female Dalai Lama come, then that female must be very attractive,” the Dalai Lama said. “Otherwise not much use.”
“Really? You’re joking,” Myrie said
“No, true!” Gyatso said.
Women’s equality campaigners said the Dalai Lama’s remarks, apparent in the interview posted online on Monday, were disappointing.
The Women’s Resource Centre chief executive officer Vivienne Hayes said: “It’s disappointing that any woman’s ability to take on a leadership role should be determined by her appearance. This seems to be a common obsession across the media, given some of the comments about women in politics. We are concerned that society is in fact going backwards in terms of women’s equality, and will keep tirelessly campaigning against this.”
Progressive Women spokeswoman Nicole Rowe, a charity that seeks to empower women in their professional and personal lives, said: “While we’re pleased to hear the Dalai Lama is in favor of the possibility of a female Dalai Lama, we’re surprised and greatly disappointed that a man of such compassion and wisdom could express such a retrograde opinion.”
“Perpetuating the antiquated idea that women are primarily useful as ornaments, as in the parlance ‘Women should be seen but not heard,’ only adds fuel to the manifold discrimination women still face to this day. A woman’s appearance is not more important than her achievements. If a woman were to become Dalai Lama, we’re certain that her actions would be of much more weight than how she looked, and we hope the Dalai Lama will take the time to reflect on the impact of his words for women, particularly given the scale of his influence,” Rowe said.
However, other prominent equality groups and campaigners chose not to comment on what they saw as a tongue-in-cheek remark by the Dalai Lama. Among them was Caroline Criado-Perez, the journalist and broadcaster, who has campaigned for UK currency to carry more illustrations of women.
Replying to a request for comment on the controversy, she tweeted: “Is ‘lol’ appropriate?”
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong (FCC) yesterday said that reporters in the territory were experiencing “highly unusual” visas problems, and called on the US and China to stop using the media as a political weapon. Journalists have been caught up in US-China tensions, with both sides placing limits or expelling reporters from their territories in the past few months. Now the spat is filtering into Hong Kong, a regional press hub nominally in charge of its own immigration policies. The FCC said in a statement that multiple media firms had reported delays getting visas in recent months. “The delays have affected journalists