As a kid growing up in the much needed era of girl power, I have not only been inspired to take control of my life and be a leader, but I have also taken it upon myself to learn what it is to be empowered and to empower others.
On Wednesday, the Boy Scouts of America announced they will soon let girls join their organization. My first thought was, “Wait, isn’t that what the Girl Scouts is for?” Upon doing more research into the deep history that has shadowed both of these organizations, I formed a stronger opinion about what this change actually means.
When you think of the Girl Scouts, you probably think of the amazing cookies that you’ve had every year since you were a kid. But what you probably don’t know is the story of how this incredibly empowering organization got to the standing it has today.
The idea of the groups originated from Robert Baden-Powell’s 1907 guidebook, “Scouting for Boys.” While the book got a lot of attention from both boys and girls, the only group that came from it was the Boy Scouts. Baden-Powell feared that allowing girls would discourage boys from the organization. He thought it might not feel masculine enough.
Later on, Baden-Powell enlisted his sister to help create the girl’s version of the group, called the Girl Guides. She had a vision of an organization that empowered girls to be prepared for all situations. But as time went on, the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts diverged paths.
When I heard the news that the Boy Scouts were allowing young girls and women to join their organization after years of the Girl Scouts pushing to be seen as equals, it felt a lot like their decision in 2013 to let in boys who openly identify as gay, and more recently, their decision to let people who self-identify as male to join the Scouts. These decisions are especially contradictory, but more importantly, condescending.
This organization has had a religious backing since its start, and has condemned the Girl Scouts for their liberal and secular standpoint on most matters regarding acceptance and identity. This is a stark contrast to other countries who have utilized the Scouts as a co-educational program formed to help boys and girls grow together. Why wait until now, more than 100 years after these two organizations were established, to finally create a pathway for girls to receive the same educational emphasis as boys?
This is 2017. People now have stronger viewpoints about what it means to be a citizen of the United States. It certainly is polarizing. The official statement from the Boy Scouts said they want to “offer families an important additional choice in meeting the character development needs of all their children.” Well, newsflash, but the Girl Scouts already exist, and they have been doing this from the start.
In the future, we will be facing some seriously interesting conversations about where to go from here, including the valuable discussion of the roles of race and religion in iconic U.S. organizations. But in the meantime, this decision should be looked into deeper. There is nothing extraordinary about a strategic wolf dressed up in empowerment sheep clothing.
Dear Boy Scouts, sorry not sorry, but you don’t deserve the brownie points.