Furor Over Dalai Lama Sexist Comment

Furor Over Dalai Lama Sexist Comment
Tenzin Gyatso – 14th Dalai Lama Christopher Michel / Flickr CC BY 2.0
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The Dalai Laima is now earning condemnation after saying that while he welcomes a female successor, that woman “should be attractive,” otherwise “not much use.” He made the controversial remark in an interview with BBC.


BBC’s Clive Myrie asked the Dalai Lama about the possibility of the 15th incarnation of the Dalai Lama being a woman. “The female biologically has more potential to show affection… and compassion,” the Dalai Lama responded.

The Dalai Lama then shared an interview he had in the past with a French reporter. “Today in a more troubled world, I think females should take more important roles, and then I told that reporter, if a female Dalai Lama comes, their face should be very attractive” the Dalai Lama said followed with laughter.

Myrie laughed along, thinking probably that the Dalai Lama was joking. “So you can only have a female Dalai Lama if they’re attractive? Is that what you’re saying?” Myrie said in between nervous laughs.

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But the Dalai Lama insisted, “I mean if female Dalai Lama come, then that female must be very attractive, otherwise not much use.” Myrie tried to save him by clarifying that he was joking. “You’re joking, I’m assuming… Or you’re not joking?” Myrie asked the Dalai Lama confused. Unfortunately, the Dalai Lama was not joking. “No, true,” he told Myrie.

Myrie changed the topic afterwards. Succeeding report of the interview by BBC did not mention the controversial remark. Nevertheless, the video of the whole interview can be watch here.

The Telegraph sought the network’s comment on the matter. “If we thought it was a big news line, we would have done so,” a spokeswoman for BBC told The Telegraph. However, one BBC insider revealed that the whole incident “was probably more cock-up than conspiracy.”

Soon, negative comments against the Dalai Lama started pouring in Twitter.

“I simply don’t know how to react when his holiness, the Dalai Lama implies that only attractive people can take on influential roles,” one Twitter user said. “Hypocrisy exposed, don’t put people on pedestals,” another netizen posted. “Really! In this day and age!” said another netizen.

This is not actually the first time the Dalai Laima is criticized for a sexist remark. In May, The Sunday Times reported that the Dalai Lama thinks he could be reincarnated as a “mischievous blonde woman.” The Dalai Lama went on saying that if indeed he comes back as a woman, then his face must be very attractive or “nobody pay much attention.”

Also in 2011, the Dalai Lama was nominated for Australia’s Gold Ernie awards for sexist behavior for assuming then Prime Minister Julia Gillard is a man. “I have nothing to ask him … there’s no point to seek advice from him,” the Dalai Lama said as quoted by News.com.au. He was asked about his feelings after Ms. Gillard failed to meet with him during his visit in Australia at the time.