The god problem: “Girls, Don’t Become Boy Scouts”

Source: Girls, Don’t Become Boy Scouts – The New York Times

When I saw this opinion piece by Kate Tuttle, I asked myself why I should bother reading it.

My relationship with the Girl Scouts is fraught:

I was eight when my family moved from the Bronx to New Rochelle. Eight is a lousy age at which to be introduced into a new school at the end of a school year, a new society–suburban rather than urban. Kids at that age are rotten human beings: sadistic, rejecting, bullying. And I was too shy and scared to try to make friends.

Gee, I’m surprised I wrote that. Didn’t realize the experience remains so painful. Nevertheless…

Nobody liked me. Nobody talked to me. Kids moved away from me–and made it obvious. (Eight-year-olds have no subtle social skills.) I was a pariah.

My mom, acutely aware of my pain, found a local Brownie troop and arranged an interview for me. We visited an adorable little cottage, we talked to a Brownie leader, we said hi to the Brownie troop. Maybe ten girls in their brown uniforms sat there staring at me without expression. My mom was warm and strong. I don’t think I said much of anything.

In a week or so, Mom told me the troop couldn’t accept me because, they said, they were already full up. Yeah, right.

Thus, I know nothing about the Girl Scouts.

Enough of me. Now onto Kate Tuttle’s opinion piece I wasn’t going to read, but did. And what I learned is: it’s the damn god problem on top of the American war on (little) women. A few telling excerpts:

The news arrived on Oct. 11, a day — as Facebook reminded us — designated as the International Day of the Girl. On the surface, it even seemed like it might be a progressive change: The Boy Scouts of America announced that it would allow girls to participate in Cub Scouts and to eventually earn Eagle Scout rank.

Unlike the Boy Scouts, in which individual troops are overwhelmingly affiliated with churches — a large share are tied to conservative denominations; an estimated 20 percent of scouts are Mormon, for instance — the Girl Scouts are a secular organization. While the Boy Scouts have an official policy against atheists and agnostics participating in scouting, the Girl Scouts make it clear that girls may substitute any words they like for the part of the Girl Scout Pledge in which they promise “to serve God.”

I did not know this. But I do know that women are more progressive than men. (Take that, Bernie Sanders.)

The Girl Scouts have long focused on social justice, diversity and inclusion in their activities. And as members of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, a global body, they have provided financial support to organizations like Oxfam, Amnesty International and Doctors Without Borders…

As a result, the Girl Scouts have become a sort of boogeyman for conservatives. In May of this year, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas announced it was cutting ties with the Girl Scouts, choosing instead to partner with American Heritage Girls, a right-leaning scouting group. Some anti-abortion organizations have even gone so far as to boycott the Girl Scouts’ trademark — and delicious — cookies.

…the [Boy Scouts] plan wouldn’t so much let girls in as form separate girls’ wings — a sort of junior ladies’ auxiliary — for girls whose families shy away from the scary, liberal, feminist Girl Scouts.

While the Boy Scouts’ announcement is being spun as a courageous gesture toward gender equality, it’s more likely to further patriarchal goals.

…this situation isn’t really all that complicated, at least not from the point of view of this former Brownie: There’s nothing progressive about trying to undercut a venerable organization that serves girls. And there’s nothing so cynical as a corporate strategy dressed up to look like empowerment.



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