A Woman’s Perspective: An Analysis of Didactic Medieval Japanese Buddhist Stories and Their Influence on Women

Rachel Levy


This paper explores Buddhist didactic texts from the medieval period of Japan and explains how these texts used portrayals of women as a way to influence and assert control over the choices of women. Its main arguments are that, first, Buddhist principles helped shape the negative representations of women’s sexuality. Secondly, these negative portrayals of women’s sexuality were intended to inspire fear and warn of the dangers of desire in women. Third, positive images of women exist, but portray women as asexual and spiritually pure to serve as  models to emulate. These three things served to provide social control and helped create Japanese patriarchy.


Japan; Buddhism; Medieval; Gender; Sexuality; Women


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