Sunday, October 25, 2009

Some thoughts on cults (thanks to msnbc's marathon)

Branch Davidians' suicidal/homicidal cult leader David Koresh rose to power by seducing the elderly woman who was the leader at the time that he arrived. She let him preach, and he developed a following. He then dumped her and demanded a man give him his 14-year-old daugher as his wife, and raped her in her sleep before officially marrying her. Yet he still expected to be the sucessor when the old lady died, not her son. He actually did inherit this. Later he had four wives, including another 14-year-old, and finally separated the men and women to make all the women potential mates for himself.

Cult leader Charles Manson seduced troubled young women into his cult, then used them as bait to attract men. And of course the rest literally is History... the women and one of the men killed people on his command.

I wonder how many less destructive cults use women this way. Well, less destructive isn't the right word... less homicidal. Destruction to the women in these cults is harder to see. Rape, incest, other forms of abuse... how many women were socialized as children to respect authority and defer to a man eventually wind up in cults?

Obedience to a leader because you expect the world to end any moment (Koresh) or because it's how you become loved (Manson) or because you fear punishment (Jim Jones) is a bad enough reason to be obedient. Being obedient because you're female is the worst possible reason.

...and a very common one in the "conservative" or "strict" versions of several religions. It's reason enough for women to refuse to join a religion, but most of us are born into it. When we choose to become slaves to cult leaders or the men in our lives it's because we aren't taught to be self-sufficient, to value ourselves as we are, or to make decisions for ourselves.

Men have been victims of cults too, of course. It just seems to me that there's a primitive element to the way cult leaders operate. Round up as many women as you can. In the case of Koresh having as many children as possible was part of the mad plan.

Charles Manson, Jim Jones, David Koresh... and Jesus? The lamb grows up to be a ram that has his herd of sheep, with no other rams to threaten his dominance. Females are the currency of power.

How does that make ewe feel?