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Being Raised in a Cult and Becoming a Feminist


Little Girl with Teddy Bear

I am sometimes reluctant to tell clients about my background because when any of us compare our experiences, we jump right into saying, “I’m not experiencing real sexism.” No matter who had the more extreme experience, we either feel like the bigger victim or the bigger whiner. So, I share this because I have had the great privilege of seeing life through the lens of straightforward, honest sexism, but not to compare any of our experiences.

When you grow up with the lessons I learned as a kid, you can see the outgrowths of sexism clearly, without the shame people have if they were raised to believe “sexism is evil.” I’ve noticed that when people believe that sexism is evil, it contributes to their need to ignore and avoid it, which does not help end it. I would not have identified it as “sexism” when I was young because I was raised to understand it was “the truth.”

I have one of those backgrounds that seems normal to me, but that I know has some shock value when I announce it in public. “I was raised in a cult.” My brother likes to test out different ways to tell people to create the best shock value, but I’m so demure that I would never. Other than writing it in a book.

I was raised in a religious cult, and its core message was that women are evil. I went through a phase in my life where I tho