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House-Builder of Sexism, Thou Art Seen

House-Builder of Sexism, Thou Art Seen

Upon the Buddha’s enlightenment, he described his many-lifetimes search for a mysterious house builder.

Seeking but not finding the house builder, I traveled through the round of countless births. Oh, painful is birth ever and again! House builder you have now been seen. You shall not build the house again. Your rafters have been broken down; your ridge-pole is demolished too. My mind has now attained the unformed nibbana and reached the end of every kind of craving. (Dh. 153-54.)

When something seems so natural and inevitable — life, suffering — it is difficult to determine its origins, its builder. Clearly someone built the house, but who? And how?

Gender sometimes presents us with similar mysteries. It towers above us, so strong, so solid. Men are like this. Women are like that. Black men are like this. Asian women are like that.

But who created these norms? Who built the house of patriarchy, misogyny, sexism?

Theorist Judith Butler describes gender as “a stylized repetition of acts” that are “sedimented” on the body over time. I love this description. It helps demystify gender, revealing its close connection with anicca, change. Moment to moment, gender arises, passes away. Arises, passes away. On the surface, it may look continuous, coherent, but it is made up of countless millions of moments of gender acts, gender signs, gender teachings, gender choices.

And it starts early.

Above, we have some face-palm apparel from Disney’s line of kids clothing. And below, though the hierarchy is not as blatant as HERO / VICTIM, we have the kind of arbitrary pick-a-side associations that go hand in hand with gender from birth.  Girls are like this.  Boys are like that.  Says who, house-builder?

When gender and sexism seem so massive, so impenetrable and overwhelming, it can be comforting, in a way, to catch glimpses of the house being built.  After all, what is built can be dismantled (though maybe not with the master’s tools).  Gender oppression ain’t a sure thing; it’s contested.  Lawsuits battle over which bathrooms transgender first graders can use; women demand wages for their housework; intersex and gender-nonconforming people fight for self-determination, rather than “correction.”  (From the FAQ page of Intersex Initiative: “[S]cience can measure how large a clitoris is, but cannot conclude how large or small it needs to be. That is a societal determination.”)  We can also endeavor to dismantle sexism within ourselves, and in our movement work.

Where do you see gender being constructed, sedimented, day to day, moment to moment?  Would especially love to hear from folks with experience raising children, paid or unpaid!  And folks with experience challenging gender expectations, and/or surviving gender-coercive violence.

Where do you see the handiwork of this house-builder?

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Comments (6)

  • michelle

    in everyday semantics, treated way too casually as ‘givens’.

  • Bezi

    >>> Theorist Judith Butler describes gender as “a stylized repetition of acts” that are “sedimented” on the body over time <<<

    Oy GEVALT. Does that ever resonate. When I did Vipassana, that sedimentation of repeated gender acts is exactly what came up for me most powerfully and consistently. Pushing through the discomfort and, man (literally)… horror – at the stuff coming up (kalapas?), transformed me through and through. Thank you for this insight ~

  • jonny

    The Buddha is clearly talking about mothers. They build the houses of children’s minds, feeding exploitable emotional constructs into their pure minds, snapping their resistance to domination with violence and shame, inflicting narcissistic injury and conditioned desires to self-destruct and self-defeat, traumatising tiny children to make them associated imagined (nonsensory) pain with the triggers of “mean words” (emotional manipulation). Mothers bring children to this Maya world of illusion, reversing values to confuse them. Children are betrayed by those with first access, who then ridicule them for being confused.

    “They cripple the bird’s wing and then condemn it for not flying as fast as they.”
    – Malcolm X

    Women do this to men and children when their mothers did it to them. They lie to men to confuse them and then get angry when men are confused. They erode the Self of children to make them dependent and then ridicule them for being needy.

    Mothers breed life for utility and disposal, made to suffer needless – imagined – agony to serve mothers’ perceived cannibalistic interests. The Buddha saw the truth of the House-Builders. The Buddha’s Light is a message of freedom that the Blind and Betrayed cannot see because the House-Builders abuse the mammal mother’s first access to children’s minds. Children’s minds are filled with force and fraud, shame and lies, violence and hate >>> instead of truth.

    The Truth in a world of women who breed life of Their Own in a world killing 29,000 human toddlers of our own every single day is pure and simple.

    The Truth is not that the truth is variable or that there isn’t any.
    The Truth is that there shouldn’t be any.
    The Truth is that there won’t be any.

  • Nathan

    The vile, sexist contempt of your comments Jonny is clear, and has nothing to do with the awakening or liberation of Buddhas.

  • jonny

    “The vile, sexist contempt of your comments Jonny is clear, and has nothing to do with the awakening or liberation of Buddhas.”

    I saw the truth about mothers and their rootkitting of children’s minds with corrupted emotive constructs (for manipulation and indefinite control) before I realised the Buddha was anything but a fat statue of some guy that lived a long time ago. In the three seconds prior to the stabbing pain leaving me crumpled on the ground unable to move, I saw reality change as my mood crashed from artificially inflated high (love) to artificially deflated low (betrayal). I’d never seen or heard of anything like it.

    My first thought was, “This is why everyone fights. We’re all seeing different realities.”
    My next thought was, “This is why women are always telling everyone to think positive (they’re planning on being malicious and when you’re thinking positive, you’re blind to their actions).”
    My third thought was, “If my mood can blind my entire life from seeing reality, this is power that has to be malicious as I’d never heard it discussed.”

    All this time, I’m trying not to think about my life being over and how I’m going to finish the job. I remember thinking, “No one – no one in the world – could be expected to survive this.” The pain was nothing I’d ever imagined. My life was finished. I was done. But as I couldn’t stand up, I kept thinking about who’d set me up for a life of embarrassment and cringing at emotions which I knew – I always knew – there was something creepy about them because whenever I needed them to watch my back, they’d stab me in the back. Every single time, my emotions would betray me.

    Our emotions aren’t ours. They’re given to us to enable this:

    That is not possible without the emotional corruption I’m talking about. I tried to think who was doing this to Humanity. The government? Perhaps. The Church? Seemed likely. But I had these emotions long before I’d been exposed to either. Long before….I remembered a feeling of revulsion, I was very young, maybe seven and a lady was reading from the Bible. I was annoyed, then confused, then disgusted.

    John 15 (KJV)
    12 “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”
    13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
    14 “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.”

    The lady was my mother and whenever we put resistance to her incessant attempts to exploit us, she’d go to her Bible and come up with a story about God wanting us to do something for Him (which, as luck would have it, was always the thing she had been failing to make us do for her).

    If I blindlessly obeyed, I could be friends with my mother. I knew that already. And my reward would be laying down my life for her. I laughed, silently of course. “Nice try Mom.” And two over two decades later, I laughed again, “Nice try Mom”. Mothers feed emotional corruption into the minds of children, reprogramming their emotions with violence and shame.

    “You’re not supposed to feel that way.” But you are not supposed to feel her way. You aren’t supposed to feel ashamed of your skin. Children are supposed to feel Natural but mothers violently force the world to feel them.

    “If love is a construct”, I thought to myself, crushed by betrayal, “then it’s not real. It’s just a feeling based on a lie.” My fiance never loved me or I would not have been betrayed. Her love was a lie. “If her love was a lie,” I thought to myself, pulling myself up as my jaw dropped, “there was nothing to betray. I wasn’t betrayed. I was never loved. Only I loved. Her love didn’t exist. There was no betrayal.”

    And I stood up, laughing. For two months I didn’t stop shaking my head because the pain that no one could survive — the pain that was about to kill me — didn’t exist, as it turned out. You can believe me or not believe me but I swear, all your feelings are in your imagination. Unimagine them and you’ll see. I laughed.

    All the pain was gone.

    This story has literally everything to do with the Buddha’s light and I don’t really see the need for any other Buddhas. Enlightenment can free you from your mother’s Maya. When your mind is unformed, you’ll see the horrifying reality I saw. Billions of screaming victims of mothers’ Maya, fighting, assaulting, raping, murdering, molesting, exploiting, betrayal, degrading, reducing, cannibalising each other with deceit. Love is not the Path to Happiness. Love blinds.

    I saw the House-builder. She will not build my house again. Her rafters were torn down. Her ridge-pole destroyed. My mind was unformed. I had no more need. And in the absence of need, I laughed. For 24 years I was blind. Now I see.

© 2017 Buddhist Peace Fellowship

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