Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Girl Scouts Will Teach Your Girls to Be Awesome, Full Stop.

I am convinced that there is a swath of people on the right who have just decided to act like cartoon villains to see how long they can get away with it.  Today's Maleficent wannabe is Wendy Wright, who is an asshole.
On Parshall’s show, Wright said parents should call for an investigation into whether the money from Girl Scout cookie sales goes to teaching “young girls to be activists and advocates for a radical sexual agenda.” She blamed the Girl Scouts leadership for supporting a “radical, feminist, pro-abortion form of activism and training these girls up to be feminist activists.” Wright urged parents instead to have their daughters join a “wholesome, pro-God, alternative to the Girl Scouts” called the American Heritage Girls. The American Heritage Girls was founded by Patti Garibay, who, according to CNS News was “motivated to leave the Girl Scout organization when the group decided it would take no position on homosexuality” and to encourage instruction in “traditionally feminine skills, such as sewing, cooking and laundry.” American Heritage Girls bills itself as a “Christ-centered” group that denounces “moral relativism.”  (source)
So let's have a talk.

A lot of feminists talk about an "aha moment" or a "click moment," where they realized, in a beam-of-light-style revelation, that they were feminists.  I did not have one of these moments.  I can't remember the first time I said aloud that I am a feminist.  But I can tell you why I am a feminist.  I am a feminist because being a woman is fucking hard.  I am a feminist because it is bullshit that my body is considered constantly available for public discussion, be it from cat-callers or politicos.  I am a feminist because I should never have to justify my decision to work, or to not have children, or to have children, but I do, on a weekly if not daily basis.  I am a feminist because it's ridiculous that people assume that I can't possibly be a "real" sports fan.  I am a feminist because I am sick of explaining that I can be good at cooking and also not like doing it. I was lucky enough to grow up in a family and an environment where by and large the people around me were okay with me doing whatever the hell I wanted, and who saw me as a person first, and a woman later.  However, this is not the norm, and once I left that environment I realized how unusual it was.

I had a weird relationship with the Girl Scouts.  I was in Montachusett troop 101 in Worcester, Massachusetts as a Brownie and a Junior, and I attended both Camp Neyati in Spencer and Camp Green Eyrie in Harvard.  I didn't really love the weekly troop meetings.  I liked hanging out with my friends, obviously, and I had a good time, but for me, "Girl Scouting" meant lots of canoes and fire, and there wasn't a whole lot of that on a weekly basis.  There was a lot of sewing and crafting and stuff like that, which I also liked, know.  No fire.  It was when I started going to Camp Green Eyrie that I really started loving Girl Scouting, and it was in those tents and under those trees that I came to understand the power of women, and the limitless potential for all of us.  I made friends there with whom I am still in touch, and did things I never would have expected to do.  I'll never forget rolling up to the mess hall at the end of our Voyager unit, having hiked and canoed for a week, covered in mud and scrapes and running five minutes late for dinner, feeling so damn awesome because we all did the hell out of that trip.  That was when I knew I could do whatever I wanted to do.

That's what Girl Scouting taught me.  You'll notice there's nothing in there about hating God or about abortion or about radical feminism.  Shocking, I know.  It was about achieving awesomeness as a human first and a woman second, and having a damn good time while we were at it.  Also?  Fire.  And sometimes canoes.

And let me tell you something, Wendy...the Girl Scouts are not the ones pressing an agenda on the young women in their organization.  It is YOUR attempt to politicize their day to day activities that forces the political into what is a simple, healthy environment for young women.  You take an entirely unrealistic view of how organizations work, on top of this.  Would you like to know how much of a fuck I gave about what the Girl Scouts of America's upper echelons were doing when I was a Junior?  LESS than zero.  I cared about the girls in my troop or my camp unit, and I cared about what we were doing that day, and maybe if I still had time to zone out a little bit, I might have cared about some residual shit from school or my friends.  But when shitbags like you force political issues to the fore of organizations whose primary services have nothing to do with political action, you make it political.  And frankly, had someone like you come out shame fingers a-blazin' when I was having a good time being outside and canoeing and getting dirty and learning how to sew AND start fires and talking about how to be a good citizen...well, Wendy, I might just have thought that maybe people like you were the ones pushing a shady agenda worth avoiding.

But I will thank you, before I let this go and return to my radical feminist life.  I'd like to thank you for inspiring me to rejoin the Girl Scouts today.


  1. Do you know what depressed me about this? The part where you said you have to justify yourself so much. I realize that my job is shitty (you know what it is) but those women are also in a community where they never have to justify to each other what they do. Seriously if that industry can do it, the rest of the world should be able to get with the damn program already. It is crap that within "valid" professional and academic pursuits that that attitude isn't present.

    On another note, Girl Scouts is fucking amazing and I wish I could promote Boy Scouts the same way but there just isn't an org for boys anymore that's as amazing as Girl Scouts is. I have so many damn badges and even if I can't buy the cookies I throw money at them anyway whenever I see a troop doing something. I learned so many valuable skills through them. Like seriously I can still navigate a topographical map with a fucking compass or analog wristwatch if that's necessary. If I have a shoelace at my disposal I can make both a squirrel trap and a fire. Because of them I always carry a pocket knife and always pay attention to my surroundings. Because of them I learned first aid, to fish, build shelter out of pine boughs, water rescue, horseback ride in two styles, use propane and propane accessories, basic car maintenance, how to cook breakfast for 200 hundred people in less than an hour with only 5 of us, and how to field dress bunnies.

    (hint hint, they're always looking for volunteers)

  2. I WISH it was only in my professional life, that's what bums me out. I actually am not having a ton of problems professionally right now, though I anticipate them when I am done with grad school and move out into the field a bit more. Theory can still be pretty damn boys clubby. (Obviously, there was a ton of sexism in political life.) It kind of speaks to what you're saying though, just on a macro scale...I shouldn't have to worry about my choice to pursue a Ph.D being challenged by - for instance - friends of mine while I'm on vacation.

    The Girl Scouts are indeed awesome and I think in lots of places the Boy Scouts CAN be as awesome, but both seem to be quite contingent on the leaders and such. I think the climate of the Boy Scouts should be a warning to people like this dingbat, because the politics HAVE pervaded much of that organization at all levels and they have suffered as a result. We need to not politicize kid spaces.

    I actually did sign up to volunteer as I mentioned doing at the end of this post, so I hope to hear back from them soon!

  3. Wait why would friends of yours question it? Don't they know you? It's like the only thing that makes the minimum amount of sense.