When I first came into the Organization (fresh out of high school) I had a particular viewpoint of women. Raised in a female dominated household I always saw women as superior to me (despite the WTBTS admonition otherwise). When seeking a marriage mate later on I was always intimidated by the Sisters in the congregations and more so by their fathers. I recall one sister in particular named Amber who's father was the CO of my congregation. He made it quite clear that for me to have any chance with her I had to accomplish certain goals. I had to be regular at the meetings, commments, reach out for privileges, pioneer and be able financially stable. A lot to ask of an 18 year old boy. I say boy because at that time (at least in my congregation) it was said you weren't a man until you were 30 years old (when Jesus was baptized).
I worked as hard as I could, making myself physically ill from the hardships. I fell asleeep during meetings. I gave everything I had and it was never enough. Do more was always the admonition. Preparing for the meetings, commenting, going out in service in a tie and coat (sometimes taking the coat off when the temp soared above 90 F).
I also saw the hardships the Sisters underwent. Though not allowed to "reach out" for privileges they were often "put in their place" by others, either older married sisters or immature single Brothers. I realized that they had it just as hard as I did, but in a different way. Though I wanted to do more so that I could have a wife and family, they were encouraged to do less (except pioneering) in order to have the same thing. I spoke with many a married Sister who had hopes, and dreams unrealized because their husbands were so domineering. I made it a point to never treat any person as inferior, nor on the other hand to be made to feel inferior by them because they held a position I did not.
I see what BotR is saying and yes there does need to be some backbone growing. But on both sides. The only control the GB has over the rank and file is what the rank and file allow them to have. It can be broken. The evidence is here on these forums.
Some might say that is easier said than done. I say it is easier done than said. History is full of examples where people have grown weary of tyranny and rose up against it. I believe the only thing holding most JW's back is the idea that YHWH directs the GB. Once that illusion is shattered then the house of cards will fall. Until such time however there is much that can be done.
For myself alone I knew that going against the GB meant I would probably never be allowed to marry or hold privileges. I realized these privileges were an illusion, they didn't really mean anything except boasting sessions to other people. YHWH doesn't care if we pioneer, comment or whatever. What He cares about is we follow his Son. Treat others with respect. Love one another.
If more people realized that it is all vanity and a striving after wind then they would stop all this nonsense. I suppose though people are afraid. They are so afraid of losing their position that they will turn on those bringing a message of hope and love. Sound familiar?
So we might blame the GB for some of our suffering but in reality we hold most of the responsibility. We allowed these things to happen to us because we feared men and the things they could take from us (also an illusion). I have lost dear friends and family to the WTS, but part of the blame is on themselves as well. They allowed themselves to be misled. They allowed others to think for them. They allowed others to tell them what was right and what was wrong, despite what the leading of the Holy Spirit said. This is definitely true of the GB so they hold the largest responsibility for misleading so many, but not all the blame. We hold some of that too. Personal accountability. If we are honest with ourselves and do not attempt to shift blame onto others then we will see the Truth of it.
The GB's authority is not granted by God, it's self-granted. It can thus be taken away by honest people who love God more than they love themselves. This though takes great courage and a willingness to give up all that you have for the ones you love. Possibly even your life.
A small pebble is all that's needed to start an avalanche.