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date: 25 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Hiratsuka Raichō (1886–1971) was a pioneer feminist philosopher and activist. This chapter discusses the development of Raichō’a thinking on questions of gender, embodiment, and women’s liberation, highlighting the influence of Zen practice on her life and work. In her early years, Raichō conceives of women’s liberation abstractly, based on her interpretation of Buddhist teachings on equality. However, after encountering the work of Swedish feminist Ellen Key, she comes to understand liberation not for an abstract, unsexed subject, but in terms of the “sexed body” and the uniqueness of women’s experiences. Her considerations of gender and sexuality remain relevant to feminism today, especially to debates within care ethics and feminist moral theory over the meaning of liberal values such as autonomy and individualism. Raichō’s commitment to both spiritual and political liberation brings added perspective to these debates and speaks to the breadth and depth of her philosophy.

Keywords: feminism, Buddhism, women’s liberation, gender and sexuality, Zen practice

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