This column is written as a response to Wednesday’s guest column “Gender inequality is rampant in the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America Organizations.”
Last week’s column on how the separation of genders in girl and boy scout troops is leading to “sexual discrimination and stereotyping that run rampant throughout the U.S.” hit a little too close to home for me.
As a former Girl Scout for 10 years myself — I graduated out at 18 — to see someone else say the only thing I had been taught by the organization was domestic skills was a real slap in the face.
The column talked about how even though the Girl Scouts organization tries to uphold the ideal of strong, confident women, the “requirements for the majority of their badges tend to teach a feminized skill set.”
Whoa, hold up now.
In Girl Scouts, there is a badge or resource for almost any interest you would want to explore. Just because there are arts-and-crafty badges doesn’t mean there aren’t badges for car maintenance, geocaching, building good credit, website design — you name it.
The column also compared how Boy Scouts activities are more rugged and outdoors oriented than Girl Scouts.
Even if Boy Scouts do those types of activities more often, that doesn’t inherently make the two organizations discriminatory. If Girl Scouts didn’t put the funding or resources toward providing rugged and outdoors things to girls, that would be unfortunate and largely discriminatory.
But, of course, that isn’t the case.
Just because the first mental picture of Girl Scouts that comes to mind is sweet little girls selling cookies doesn’t mean they don’t camp, lead hikes, learn archery, go kayaking, climb rope courses and so on. I say that because I did all of those above activities while I was in Girl Scouts, strangely enough.
And if some little girl has an interest in baking or fashion design, who is anyone to wave a finger and say, “You are reinforcing stereotypes by learning a feminized skill set”?
With all the love in my heart, screw those people.
Girl Scouts has done a fantastic job of putting out resources for any interest girls have growing up, so let other people read the social commentary into it if they wish.
The examples of badges the author thought were “feminized and borderline sexist” were misconstrued.
It turns out all scientific and technological badges don’t teach the “science of happiness.” Upon further research, it turns out the example was one badge, aptly titled “the science of happiness.” Girl Scouts doesn’t shirk science and technology; it funds STEM projects like its nobody’s business, especially in the last few years
And for the “babysitting badge,” just because it is more useful to 12- to 14-year-old girls than boys doesn’t automatically make it gender stereotyping.
Babysitting was the first paid job I ever had, and I’m sure that goes for a lot of girls. That badge was how I became CPR certified at 13, so go ahead and call that not worth my time.
Lastly, the column made the case that to truly equalize Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, they should be combined into one organization. For anyone who is interested, they have that; it is called Venture Scouts, which is really more like a co-ed Boy Scouts.
Otherwise, Girl Scouts are doing fine on their own.
The important part is both organizations teach children to be hardworking, honest, loving and ambitious. That is true equality between the genders. The rest is details.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some cookies that need eating. Scout pride.
Lauren Flannery is a business administration sophomore at UF. Her column runs on Tuesdays. You can contact her via email@example.com.