My monastic community, the Art Monastery in Labro, Italy is open to people of all religious beliefs, races, ethnicities, ages, genders, sexes, creeds, sexual orientations, financial situations and contemplative experience levels.
We’re men and women, and we call ourselves “artmonks.”
Occasionally, we wonder if that’s what we should really call ourselves, and the conversation always comes around to the question “Where have the ‘nuns’ gone in all this?” We get emails from artists and supporters asking the same question.
I responded to one such query with:
We have been struggling with the language behind all this and haven’t found a [pleasant sounding] gender neutral alternative to monk. There has been at least one female “monk” in Christianity, and in Buddhism, bhikkunis, the female counterpart to male bhikkus, are often called monks in English. Italian makes it a little easier… monaco is a male monk, monaca is a female monk. Likewise in Spanish: monje, monja. Perhaps artmonastic would be better than artmonk.
Do you have any suggestions?