Buddhist monks were commonly portrayed as seducers and even rapists in late sixteenth-century vernacular literature, including, most commonly, courtroom tales (gong’an 公案). Do these stories reflect a deterioration in clerical morality and behavior, or a decline in Buddhist faith and practice, as is sometimes argued? Neither explanation is credible. I argue that the image of monks in courtroom tales should be understood as a literary convention, growing out the burgeoning market for entertainment literature, rather than a window onto social reality. It also reflects an increasing male anxiety about the control of women.