In light of 2017 series of revelations about male sexual harassment and assault, I reflect.
I wonder if I would have abetted, confronted, or cooperated with Harvey Weinstein or any of the very powerful men who used their positions in harmful ways?
Would I have resisted passively while attempting to maintain surface harmony?
Would I have spoken up (whether heard or not is another matter) about or against locker room sexual innuendos, the good old boys network, or misogyny?
Would I as a Buddhist chock it up to karma when I see a woman crying in the bathroom after a power-over encounter?
I don't know that I would have been brave enough to stand out and say something, to confront the ramifications of confronting those of high stature, or to prevent name-calling the said Scarlett in social circles?
I now realize how cowardly I am, and my Buddhist training thus far supports me so.
I'm not even courageous enough to shout and claim "#MeToo"!
Is there a safe place in the greater Buddhist sangha or a Buddhist community for someone like me to grow, for a victim to tell her story without having to wait decades?
Is there a place for learning and teaching among students of Buddhist texts to examine confounding portrayals of women and the real life allegations about men?
Is there a collective place for Buddhists to transform the pain in the realization that sexual misconduct happens when there is an elaborate system reliant on the cooperation of others, male and female?
Is there a place that offers help to those who experience the act of sexual assault or the incessant manipulation, said deserved punishment, retaliation against objection, and defamation after the fact?
Is there a consoling place among Buddhists or Buddhist communities for female victims who remain silent, when telling others meant, “I’ll never work again and no one is going to care or believe me”?
Is there a place of support for victims who are made to feel like outliers, questioning constantly, “Am I the one who is the problem?”
NABA would like to be some of the above named "places", grounded in the Dharma, common sense, and empathy.
To start, for women who wish to talk to another Buddhist woman about experiences with sexual harassment and assault,
North American Buddhist Alliance is here to serve as a beginning.
Please email Guo Cheen at Info @ NorthAmericanBuddhistAlliance .org with your advice, recommended support, and resources.