Over the course of few years, the Tibetan diaspora has seen a sharp rise in the number of Tibetan women who claim a feminist identity. What is Tibetan feminism, and how did it emerge? In the following, I track the rise of Tibetan feminism through the development of an online initiative called Tibetan Feminist Collective (TFC) based mostly in the west. Although TFC does not represent the diverse viewpoints of all women who identify as Tibetan and feminist, their version of feminism nonetheless becomes important to engage due to the initiative’s choice in leading and representing discussions regarding Tibetan feminism in Tibetan and non-Tibetan cyber and/or real worlds. Even though I use TFC as a Tibetan example of neoliberal feminism, they are not the only ones influenced by it. Other Tibetan women (alongside their male peers) not affiliated with TFC are also engaging neoliberal ideologies in shaping their individual pathways towards favorable professional outcomes that benefit themselves alone. Today we live in a world where the commodification of identities and activism, thanks to neoliberal ideologies, are so pervasive. Thus, it is important to think critically about the way neoliberalism shapes feminism (and other frameworks), and compromises their liberatory potential.
she realizes the demoness Srin, who represents the Tibetan landscape itself, is causing all the difficulties. To subdue her, they build a total of thirteen Buddhist temples, some of which still stand today in places like Bhutan (39), to pin her down on her back. Four in the inner realm of Tibet to pin her shoulder and hip. Four at the border areas, pinning her knees and elbows. Four at the boarders beyond to pin her hands and feet. And finally, one at the Jo-khang, symbolizing her heart and considered the center of Tibet (38). Thus Srin is subdued and Buddhism can reign over Tibet. Besides Buddhist domination of Srin, what is this myth really about? And why is the demoness gendered as female?
Although MacDonald’s tone is one of good intention and conviction to tell the hardships and stigmas that newcomers from Tibet face in McLeod-Dharmsala, my main problem with her book was that she decides to choose sides: she favors newcomers over exile Tibetans, and even further makes exile Tibetans, whom she calls “settlers,” the villains. Choosing a side requires categorizing the two groups as single entities at odds with each other. This doesn’t allow room for complexities within and between the group, and also ignores complexities that create tensions between the groups in the first place.
Ben Hillman–a Senior Lecturer at the Crawford School of public policy, Australian National University–wrote an article called “China’s many Tibets: Diqing as a model for ‘development with Tibetan characteristics?’” (2010). He details the economic success, through the government-funded tourist industry, of Shangri-La, a Tibetan town in Kham, as a model that the Chinese authorities can follow for “China’s many other Tibets”. However, in his eager attempt to support his argument for Shangri-La as a successful model, Hillman fails to acknowledge China’s historical role in that region, the popular resistance that occurred before and during the time period he covers, or further analysis of local involvement in the tourist industry.