Anniversary Post: Girl Scouts of the USA

Juliette Gordon Low With Early Girl ScoutsOn this day in 1912, the Girl Scouts of the USA were formed — although they were then called Girl Guides. Let me just start by saying how much I love that. They should have been called, “Girls Taking Charge.” We could use a lot more of that. Not to mention cookies, but I digress.

For a long time, I thought that the Girl Scouts were just the female equivalents of the Boy Scouts. But then I learned otherwise. Since 2011, they have been open to transgender girls. Meanwhile, the Boy Scouts will fight tooth and nail to avoid entering even the 20th century. You can find out some of my thoughts on the Nazi Youth Boy Scouts in, Why Boy Scouts Have Always Bothered Me. But I have a different opinion of the Girl Scouts.

The thing is, I wish it weren’t done in terms of gender. When I was a boy, I heard about what the Boy Scouts were doing and what the Girl Scouts were doing. And not surprisingly, what the Girl Scouts were doing sounded like more fun. (I’m probably remembering the Cub Scouts and the Camp Fire Girls — I’m not that clear about all the distinctions.)

Of course, I’ve always preferred to hang out with the girls. I don’t wish to hammer this to death (and after all these years, if it isn’t dead, it never will be), but so much of male culture is based on the idea of proving that you aren’t gay that I’m not interested. Would it be asking so much for male culture to accept that there are different kinds of men — far removed from sexual orientation. If other men have hangups and secretly think that they are gay, they really should get some help with that. But barring that: just stop acting like idiots!

Here’s a funny thing: the two most clearly healthy heterosexual men I’ve ever known — men who love women and are loved in return — are both kind of, well, effeminate. I’m not saying that typically masculine men are latent homosexuals; I’m just saying that they are boring. Really boring. Deadly boring. Like: I’m in fear of life boring.

Women don’t tend to have this problem. This isn’t to say that women are perfect. But it isn’t surprising that the Boy Scouts are a dysfunctional organization that teachers noxious lessons to boys and the Girl Scouts is mostly a force for good — generally a group that doesn’t look back on itself a generation and cringe. There’s a lot to be said for that.

Afterword: Girl Scouts and Women in General

Let me note that it is always a bad idea to leave men alone. We really need women around to humanize us. Otherwise, we don’t behave well. As Donald Trump would say, “Really! It’s true!”

20 thoughts on “Anniversary Post: Girl Scouts of the USA

  1. Manly men are the worst. Girly girls are no better, but there are fewer of them, and other women aren’t shy about expressing how pathetic they are. Men are reticent to criticize manly men.

    “Effeminate” is such an odd word. You could probably apply it equally to Oscar Wilde and Bertrand Russell, while they had vastly different sexual tastes. It basically is a slur conflating “doesn’t like machismo” with “gay.” Although Wilde and Russell contributed more to this world than any manly man ever has or will.

    • That’s exactly it: personal styles only say something about personal styles.

      I don’t know what’s going on with your posts. I’m looking into it.

    • I only ever saw a few episodes of Three’s Company, but one of them included a line that cracked me up and has stuck with me ever since. The landlord and his wife (no, I don’t remember which landlord it was) were talking about a class she was taking – crochet? Knitting? China painting? Not sure; I’ll call it X – and he said “X always seems so… effeminate to me.”
      Her response: “I’m a woman – I’m _supposed_ to be effeminate. You’re… emasculate.”

      • Three’s Company was a brilliant show in its way. It goes back to the One Great Truth of television comedy, which is everything is a variation on Mister Ed. In Three’s Company, they manage to sexualize it. Personally, I more a talking horse guy myself.

  2. I had a job in construction for a little over a year. Not in a skilled trade. I was on a punch crew that fixed all the minor mistakes and got the building ready to turn over to the customer. Anyway, I was a bad fit for the culture. Every conversation, no matter what, had to be laced with homophobia/latent gay panic, racism, misogyny, and tales of drug/alcohol use. This stuff seeps in over time. I would catch myself and ask, why did I say that, or why did I think that? Even when I was not at work, around these people. So, I found a new job. It’s one of the experiences, along with being poor for a while when my parents declared bankruptcy when I was just out of high school, that inoculates me to scapegoating of the poor. It changes you. And I was someone from a middle class upbringing. When I had that job I was more than halfway done with college. I knew life could be different, and that it would someday. People who are born into those lives must feel terribly cynical about all the yay America bullshit that no politician dares to not say.
    But, to get back on point, men are the worst. Usually, at least. My daughter is a Girl Scout, and is shaping up to be a feminist. I am happy about that.

    • That may be the reason I have this image: growing up around the construction business. And auto racing culture. Although I have to say, things have gotten a lot better. I think the MRAs are a good sign because it shows that certain men are freaking out about other men being more liberal and honest about who they are.

      And don’t get me wrong: I like a lot of stereotypical masculine men. I just wish they would knock off the pretense.

      I’m glad your daughter is in Girl Scouts. Bob’s Burgers has done a lot of good work teasing the idea at the same time as it respects it. Check out “A River Runs Through Bob.”

    • I was asked recently what my dream job would be. Honestly? It’d be repairman. I love puzzles, and I love useful tasks. But when I was in school, only the meanest macho kids took shop. So I don’t know the first thing about machines.

      • I’ve done a lot of tinkering and repairing over the years out of necessity, both from poverty and because I can almost never buy just what I want off the shelf. Fixing and modding something so that it’s better than when it came to you is one of life’s great pleasures.

        • Yes! And why should that profession be ruled by annoyingly macho men? (Who, almost invariably, are libertarian kooks.)

          I am a demigod when it comes to toilet repair. (Since my shitty landlords will never fix stuff.) There is nothing about a broken toilet I don’t know how to solve. It helps that of every useful item in your home, only toilets have standardized parts. The floaty gizmo that makes the tank stop filling up, that’s the same in Colorado or Copenhagen. But I wish I knew how to fix more things.

  3. I wanted to be a girl scout but my parents had gone through it with the older siblings and said they didn’t want to be bothered. But it was okay for them to let the youngest be a girl scout.

    I hate being the middle child at times. I console myself by the fact I am the smartest.

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