In Ruth Ozeki's 2013 novel A Tale for the Time Being, sixteen-year-old Nao faces severe bullying and sexual violence at her new school in Japan. Seeking escape, she experiments with different identities, turning first to the Internet and then later to Zen Buddhist practices. These approaches appeal to her because they allow her to transcend the bounds of her physical body, but she soon finds these experiences limiting in other ways.
Intervening in discourses about the liberating potentials of cyber- and Buddhist feminisms, Ozeki's novel explores how experiences of disembodiment are empowering in some ways and inhibiting in others. This article argues that A Tale for the Time Being critiques philosophies that strive for social liberation by denying physicality and introduces a model of feminism that balances material and bodily experiences with ideas of equality that emerge from cyber-, Buddhist, and transnational feminist projects.