Dalai Lama says a future female Dalai Lama "must be very attractive, otherwise not much use”

A female Dalai Lamas "face should be very attractive,” His Holiness proclaimed

By Sophia Tesfaye
September 22, 2015 11:36PM (UTC)
main article image
The Dalai Lama (AP/Gerald Herbert)

The Dalai Lama, who fancies himself a feminist, may find himself in hot water for his decidedly misogynist take on a woman Dalai Lama in a new interview with the BBC's Clive Myrie.

After denouncing sweeping generalizations about Muslims around the world, the 80-year old spiritual leader made a startling proclamation while describing the prospects of a future female Dalai Lama.


Recalling a time a female reporter asked him a similar question about a woman successor fifteen years ago, the Dalai Lama said that a female Dalai Lama's "face should be very attractive” in order for her to be an effective leader.

After awkwardly laughing at the response, Myrie incredulously asked, "So you can only have a female Dalai Lama if they’re attractive? Is that what you’re saying?”

Any female Dalai Lama must be attractive, the Nobel Peace Prize winner insisted, pointing to his face, "otherwise not much use.”


“You’re joking, I’m assuming,” Myrie asserted, sitting up and getting serious. "No?"

"No. True," the spiritual leader said laughing.

In 2013, the Dalai Lama sounded similarly hopeful about the prospects of a female successor, relying on tired gender tropes to prop up the idea of women as the more "compassionate" sex:


I think [it would be] good because you see, biologically, female[s] have more potential to develop affection or love to other. Some scientists, they tested two person, one male, one female looking at one sort of movie. Female [was] more sensitive: response is much stronger. So therefore…now we are 21st century…female have more potential so should take more active role regarding promotion of human compassion.

Watch the awkward exchange below:

(H/T: Jezebel)

Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

MORE FROM Sophia TesfayeFOLLOW @SophiaTesfaye

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Buddhism Dalai Lama Feminism Misogyny Religion Women