Sangha Gatherings: Gender Affinity Groups


Following a request for the sangha to (re)turn its attention to issues of patriarchy, sexism and misogyny in our community, several senior students and monastics have stepped forward to help facilitate conversations over Zoom and in person at ZMM. These optional gender affinity groups can help us digest some of the feelings that may be arising due to naming the issues involved, our own experience with gender-discrimination in community, the challenges of investigating these issues, or the ways this request was brought forward.  These groups are not for problem-solving, offering suggestions for change, or for analysis but a place to share your direct experience. These groups will run for approximately an hour each and will generally follow the outline below.
1) Facilitator offers a body settling exercise and/or a few minutes of zazen.
2) Facilitator reviews guidelines & offers some framing remarks.
3) Each participant has a chance to share where they are at with things. Keep it personal and related to your direct experience. You do not have to speak if you don’t wish to, though participants will be expected to have their camera on.
4) After each participant has shared, if there is time remaining, then people may speak again. Please refrain from responding directly to others’ comments, ie: “I disagree with so-and-so’s opinion because. . .”
5) Facilitator will close the sharing with a few minutes of body settling/zazen.
6) The group may close by chanting the Four Immeasureables.
All the below information is subject to change as we determine whether some of the groups will recur.
Please refer back to this website shortly before the session begins, and check back next week for more.
Date: Sunday, February 12
Gender Affiliation: Men
Facilitators: Kien Martin and TBD
Time: 2:00 – 3:00pm
Date: Tuesday, March 7
Gender Affiliation: TGNC
Facilitator: Taisho Sands
Time: 6:30 – 8:00pm
Date: Thursday, March 9
Affiliation: MRO Women for Conversation & Connection (Monthly, 2nd Thursday)
Facilitators: Chikei Levister and Shinji Hoffman
Time: 12:30pm-1:30pm
Date: Sunday, January 29
Gender Affiliation: Men
Facilitators: Chizen Brown and Sekku Harrison
Time: 1:30 – 2:30pm
In person at ZMM

These meetings are inspired by an open letter, recently sent to all students and practicing members, along with a letter of support written by the teachers and dharma holders.

Read the original letter asking for greater attention put on gender issues.

Read the Teachers Council letter.

Some folks have been asking for reading resources. There are too many wonderful books and podcasts out there to name. Here’s just a few:

  • We Should All Be Feminists, by Chimamanda Adichie
  • Difficult Women, by Roxane Gay
  • The Will to Change, by bell hooks
  • The Mermaid and Minotaur, by Dorothy Dinnerstein
  • For the Love of Men: From Toxic to a More Mindful Masculinity, by Liz Plank
  • Judith Butler on Non Violence and Gender, interviews