I just saw a great documentary on a cult leader out west who did all the typical cult leader stuff.. ……. you know, .like claiming he is ” the Messiah”, sleeping with young girls while requiring abstinence from his followers, and controlling every aspect of his disciples lives. It got me to thinking about the fact that you rarely hear about women leaders of a dangerous cult. Why is that?..hmm… seems to me that, for the most part, typical feminine characteristics such as nurturance, collaboration and non-hierarchical leadership are counter to what is needed to help a cult flourish. Now, that is not to say that women cannot be as controlling or power-hungry as men. There have, in fact, been some fairly well-established women cult leaders. For instance, Elizabeth Clare Prophet who led the Church Universal and Triumphant for several years was rumored to have abused her position to sexually manipulate young men, and brainwash followers. However, Ching Hai, leader of one of the fastest growing cults in the world , is based in California and has many vietnamese and Chinese followers, but very few critics. Her organization appears to be very non-hierarchical, not overly authoritarian, and extremely philanthropic . A sense of inclusiveness pervades her lectures, which are based on a Q and A format rather than fire and brimstone, doomsday rhetoric. There also has been no evidence of physical or sexual abuse within her community.
So what does all this mean? I believe that anyone (women or men) who embody more feminine principles are much less likely to become cult leaders. Almost by definition cults imply a strong hierarchy of authority and very often lead to misuse of power and influence. Feminine energy is more inclusive, nurturing and circular, with less need to be in control.
Now, there may be those who say that perhaps the reason there are not many women cult leaders is because it is much more difficult for a woman to come to that place of power in a society based on masculine principles, where women are usually under-valued. This may be true, but I still hold to the fact that the intrinsic traits that women embody are counter to what is necessary to become a strong cult leader. What do you think?