Even today, casual sexism is so pervasive that it’s often hard to be shocked when someone (read: a cis man) says that women need to be beautiful to be taken seriously. And yet, people are full of surprises. Today, in sentences we never thought we’d write, Twitter is criticizing the Dalai Lama for saying that if a woman succeeds him, she should be “attractive.”
The Tibetan spiritual leader spoke to BBC News in a June 27th interview, addressing topics that ranged from U.S. President Donald Trump to European refugees. But then reporter Rajini Vaidyanathan asked him about a 2015 comment in which he said that he was open to a female Dalai Lama—as long as she was attractive.
In a video clip from the interview shared to Twitter, the religious leader also suggested that most people would prefer not to look at a “dead face” and argued that women in the public eye should wear makeup. In her article, however, Vaidyanathan wrote that the Dalai Lama went on to say that both outer and inner beauty were important in Buddhism. He also told her that he supports pay parity and thinks women’s rights are important. In 2009, HuffPost reported that he even referred to himself as a feminist, saying, “Isn’t that what you call someone who fights for women’s rights?”
This was perhaps the most surprising moment in the interview. I asked the Dalai Lama if he stood by his earlier comment that if his successor was female, she should be attractive.— Rajini Vaidyanathan (@BBCRajiniV) June 27, 2019
He said he did. Watch here:#DalaiLama #BBCDalaiLama. pic.twitter.com/QAy0EFDZTT
But the Dalai Lama’s recent comments didn’t sit right with Twitter, to say the least.
It wasn’t long before some users were declaring him “canceled.”
wow wasnt expecting to have to cancel the dalai lama when i woke up this morning but here we are pic.twitter.com/qmYUVz1vs1— raina douris (@RahRahRaina) June 28, 2019
When even the Dalai Lama disappoints you is peak 2019. https://t.co/GnMI7jimAt— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) June 28, 2019
Remember a couple of hours ago when I said there was no-one left to disappoint you?— Caroline Hirons (@CarolineHirons) June 28, 2019
Dalai Lama: Hold my beer Hirons. https://t.co/yK9LloNwwe
Gazza vs. Snoop Dogg— Rhys James (@rhysjamesy) June 28, 2019
Biden wants a new job
Boris doing brexit
Dalai Lama sexist
WE DIDN'T START THE FIRE
Having to cancel the Dalai Lama is about as 2019 as it gets https://t.co/VHUPNRJSdF— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) June 28, 2019
Muttering "the Dalai Lama is cancelled" as my brain cell count goes into free fall— Jeremy Gordon (@jeremypgordon) June 28, 2019
The Dalai Lama said a female successor would have to be hot. We are so far past seven in the seals of the apocalypse department https://t.co/h3EL5CXtwk— Sarah Silverman (@SarahKSilverman) June 28, 2019
Then there were those who were just sick of how common sexism is.
Nobody: ...— Femi (@Femi_Sorry) June 28, 2019
Nobody at all: ....
Nobody throughout the vastness of space: ....
Dalai Lama: The next Dalai Lama has to be super f***able.pic.twitter.com/naq30K4cJ9
Ultimately, the Dalai Lama may be a spiritual leader, but that doesn’t mean that he never says things that are objectionable or controversial. Hopefully, he’ll take some time to consider why these comments about women have offended people.