All Girl Scouts Are Not Friends

Girl Scouts Making Crafts With Paint

As a young girl, I, along with legions of other girls all across the country, was a Girl Scout.  Even while I was still in the program, certain slogans and aspects of the Girl Scouting Program annoyed me, in particular the oft-repeated slogan that “all Girl Scouts are friends.”  Even at the time, I knew that all Girl Scouts were not friends—the sash didn’t magically transform the girl who had been bullying me all day at school into a close confidant and friend.

Two Girls Arguing

A recent stint as a Girl Scout camp counselor has led me to revisit my earlier grievances and complaints and now, as an adult, I am more able to articulate both what bothered me about the slogan at the time, and what should bother mothers of Girl Scouts everywhere.   As already mentioned, the slogan that “all Girl Scouts are friends” is simply inaccurate.  I appreciate that both the program and my troop leaders were probably trying to build a sense of camaraderie and community among the Girl Scouts in their care, but blatantly lying about the level of friendship among the girls is not the way to do it.  If anything, it’s likely to make present and former Girl Scouts more cynical about the whole program.

As a feminist and an adult, I’m also aware that the slogan “all Girl Scouts are friends” serves to perpetuate the stereotype that all girls are, or should be, friendly and sweet to everyone, at all times.  Boy Scouts certainly doesn’t contain any similar drivel.  While boys are praised for doing well, being aggressive, being funny, or being intelligent, girls are praised for being nice and making everyone happy.  Is it any wonder that male CEOs and managers far outnumber their female counterparts, or that women consistently earn less than men?

Don’t get me wrong—I value being nice to other people, and despair at the frequency with which I see other women who cultivate bitchiness as a main aspect of their personality.  While I personally avoid these women (for whom the term “bitch” is an apt personality description rather than an insult) like the plague, I also think that every woman should have a “inner bitch” that she can pull out in times of necessity.  There are times when you simply can’t be polite and times when being nice doesn’t cut it, something that I have actually struggled to learn, in no small part because of slogans and societal undertones which perpetuate the stereotype that all girls should be nice.  Shouldn’t an organization like Girl Scouts, which purports to stand for female empowerment, avoid sending these sorts of messages to women and girls?



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