My secret wish, when I was about 10 years old and we were going through the Revelation book for the second time, was that one day we would show up at the book study and all the baptized brothers would be missing and they would let me read. I was pretty sure that I wouldn't mangle words like Thyatira and Laodicea nearly as badly as some of the poor brothers they roped into reading at times, who looked like they were being tortured during particularly difficult lessons.
I liked to read, I thought. My older brother got to read a lot, even when he wasn't baptized. Why couldn't I?
I think that all of these little restrictions on what women couldn't do - and it was such a long list - actually helped me immensely. I couldn't read at book study, I couldn't run microphones or help with the sound equipment, I couldn't work at the literature counter, I couldn't direct the group out in service on Saturday if a brother were with, even when we were out in my own territory and it was simply a matter of "you two take that street, we'll take this one", and on, and on. I laughed inside when people said the TMS trained everyone to be "public speakers"; all I felt good at was writing casual, conversational skits relating, say, school lasagna to the concept of sin. I felt quite ridiculous when we showed up at a service meeting one time, and this one pioneer sister, who had been a Gilead missionary and a Bethelite before moving to our congregation, had to rummage around for a handkerchief to put on her head before she conducted the service meeting as usual, because a twelve year old boy who had just gotten baptized arrived with his mother at the last minute.
There were two main ways the attitudes toward women helped me:
1. Since there weren't so many organizational things that could distract me during and after the meetings, I had more time to think about what was actually being said. I used to take annotations in my notes about little points that I didn't understand for a year or two before I left.
2. It got me thinking really early on about things I didn't like in the organization. Even back when I knew it was the truth, beyond a shadow of a doubt, there was still this little problem of mine about accepting, in my heart of hearts, that I was somehow more imperfect or unworthy just because I was female. (All humans are infinitely imperfect, I thought; how did being female somehow make one even more infinitely imperfect? a higher order infinity, perhaps? It just seemed ludicrous.)
When other problems came up, such as evolution or the old organ donor prohibition, and I began to entertain the notion that perhaps the organization wasn't correct, after all, it was such a relief to no longer have to pretend to myself that I was, in some vague spiritual way, supposed to be in "subjection" to men.
Anyone else out there find that the attitudes toward women helped them leave, rather than keep them trapped?