Both terrifying and utterly fascinating, interest in the cult phenomenon has grown. What makes a cult leader? What role does gender have in cults?
My thesis attempts to answer these questions and investigates cults and the role of women in leadership positions within cults. Women often play a crucial role in cults, specifically in facilitation, indoctrination, and maintenance of order. Even when women are heavily involved in the administration of cults, we rarely hear their stories. While most recorded cult leaders to date are men, this is not to say that there have never been any female cult leaders. Unsurprisingly, they can be just as destructive as men when given the opportunity, but their power is harder to understand. Women are often seen as matriarchs, sympathizers, and silent leaders. This projection leads to an understatement of these women's power.
Through my research and design, I pose questions about gender, psychology, and their roles within cults. I wanted to feature the perspectives of women cult leaders and include pages dedicated to quotes and interviews with the victims of these cults. These two views are often not discussed.
People join cults because they're looking for love and acceptance and want answers to the personal problems in their lives. Studies estimate 3,000–5,000 active cults in the United States today, many of which are unreported. All cult leaders of all genders have victims, be it other vulnerable women, the disenfranchised, or children. It's essential to understand cults and their leaders to help victims of cults and prevent people from joining them.