A video has recently been circulating featuring Samuel Herd, now a member of the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, giving a public discourse in 1971 about women:
In this discourse he states that women’s brains are too small to handle leadership roles, and that the only thing women have ever wanted since they were children was to be wives and mothers, proven by the fact that they play house when they’re little. These roles, along with making their husbands happy, is their primary purpose in life, and that to want anything else is akin to being a homosexual. He also counseled women that they should hide their smarts in front of their husbands and never let them see that they may be more mentally capable than them.
Where do I begin?
Start With the Obvious
Chances are I don’t really need to pick apart this discourse too much; most people today realize that brains are not like filing cabinets that need to be a certain size to hold information. Brains work by electrical signals and chemicals, and size has nothing to do with their thinking ability any more than it does with your sense of humor or your artistic talents. Women have the same intelligence, wisdom, problem-solving abilities, and lack of these things, as men, no matter the size of their craniums.
Counseling anyone to hide their smarts from someone else is a form of abuse in my opinion, and yet again reveals what the organization really thinks of women; if women are not as stupid as they’d like to think, they better act like they are!
Not only is this insulting and degrading, but it’s also incredibly detrimental to the home and to a marriage. Doesn’t a family benefit the most when all members contribute whatever wisdom and capabilities they have? Telling a woman to hide her smarts from her husband is like telling a man to hide his talents, feelings, and sensitivities from her. Intelligence, thinking abilities, problem-solving skills, wisdom, feelings; these things can help parents make better decisions for their children, help adults manage their household more effectively, and help spouses to take better care of one another.
Comparing this situation to homosexuality is also downright laughable. Herd says that women who want to have leadership roles are desiring something they’re not physically meant to be, the same way that homosexuals want to be something they’re not, but this is outright wrong. Homosexuals are who they are and they don’t want to change themselves; gay men are attracted to other men without wanting to be women, and a woman being attracted to another woman has nothing to do with her wanting to actually have a penis. Gay people rarely want to change anything about themselves no matter their sexual attraction.
Who Cares How You Feel
All of those obvious thoughts aside, there is one part of these statements made that stuck with me, and they really show a disturbing aspect of the Jehovah’s Witness religion. During this sermon, Herd goes on about how the role of wife and homemaker and servant to her husband is something all women want, supposedly proven by the fact that all little girls play house when they are young.
First of all, how does he know what all little girls did when they played? He’s met every woman on the planet and asked them about their childhood? The presumptuousness is astounding; it’s as if there is no such thing as individuality, at least not for women.
I can personally attest to this being untrue. As a little girl, I didn’t “play” any type of pretend games; I was a voracious reader and would even dabble in writing fiction stories as a child. The few times I would play-act with other children, I remember acting out scenes from Star Wars and The Bionic Man. I don’t remember ever, ever playing house or anything domestic of any sort. I never even owned baby dolls for that matter, but darn if I wasn’t fascinated with light sabers and robots.
Despite these apparently odd and incorrect childhood interests, I still maintain my femininity and have no desire to be something I’m not. I wear skirts and high heels just as well as faded jeans, and actually enjoy keeping a clean house and cooking a good meal. I also enjoy making a man happy when I’m in a relationship, but don’t see it as my role and purpose in life.
Here’s my point; Samuel Herd got up in front of a group of followers and publicly declared what I, as a woman and as a little girl, have always wanted, what I want now, how I feel and have always felt, and what’s best for me. He just made this declaration about my emotional state and mentality all on his own, rather than asking me how I feel or what I know to be true.
This is the pattern I’ve seen with Jehovah’s Witnesses when it comes to their members, even about subjects affecting their private lives. No one in any position of authority asks anyone how they feel and what they want. No one ever asks members what they think is best for themselves, and they certainly don’t ask if their bold assertions actually work in real life!
You’ll never hear a member of the governing body ask, “Are you happy in this role as a submissive and silent wife, do you feel fulfilled waiting on your husband and popping out babies, is that what you’ve been looking forward to your whole life? Is your family life and our interpretation of the marriage arrangement working out for you? Both of you? Being the person who lives this life, what do you think would make you happy? What does make you happy and fulfilled?”
This lack of concern for what a person really wants or how they really feel is especially disgusting when you consider that I’m quite capable of expressing those feelings! As an adult, I know what I want and what I’ve always wanted since I was a little girl, and I know what makes me happy and what doesn’t. I also know what’s best for me, and what is hurtful and hateful and makes me near suicidal. Children often need to be told what’s best for them and need to have decisions made for them, but not adults.
This is the pattern I see especially with women in the religion. As I’ve brought out in other posts, Jehovah’s Witnesses encourage women to stay with abusive men in the hopes of converting them, without ever being concerned with how that situation affects women. One elder even confessed that women were being killed by those violent men they sent them home to! Not only are they not concerned for a person’s feelings, but they have no concern about a person’s very life.
Consider one last point about this. If Samuel Herd says that all women played house and all women want to be domestic servants and nothing more, and all women are incapable of leadership roles… and those statements aren’t true… doesn’t that make him a liar? He didn’t ask if women played house as girls, but said it outright. He didn’t ask if women want to be servants to men, but said it outright. If you say something outright and it’s not true, it’s a… rhymes with pie…
Perhaps the governing body has never thought about this, that making assertions about what they want to be true rather than stating what is really true makes them liars. I can want chocolate to be good for my thighs all I want; telling someone else that chocolate is good for my thighs doesn’t make it true; it makes me a liar.
I cannot believe that a religion that is led by men who are so callused, misogynistic, abusive, unfeeling, prejudiced, dictatorial, arrogant, deceitful, and hateful is one directed by holy spirit from god, at least not a loving god. A religion that treats its own members like children is not a religion I can understand or endorse, and I have yet to be given a reason why I should.
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