Girls Take on Boy Scouts


Feminist perspective

Natalie Vincent

As of Feb. 1, 2019, U.S. girls can now join the Boy Scouts of America. In the wave of feminism and female empowerment, this is another step in the direction of gender equality.

However, the name will remain as Scouts BSA (BSA standing for Boy Scouts of America). How do the boys feel about this new change? Will the thousands of girls who have joined the Boy Scouts be treated differently than their male troop members? And if there is such a strong pull to let the girls join the boys, what’s so wrong about the Girl Scouts of America?

As a former Girl Scout myself, I can agree with the many claims that the Girl Scouts of America aim to shape young girls into influential leaders with well-rounded character. The Boy Scouts of America wish the same for their members, so why is there still a difference in how they approach teaching each gender?

According to The Guardian, a study in 2011 was conducted to compare the activities in Girl Scouts versus Boy Scouts. From organizations that are 106 and 109 years old respectively, the findings were not surprising. Girl Scout activities tended to be centered more on artistic qualities, shying away from scientific endeavors. On the other hand, Boy Scouts activities showed the opposite: more scientific, as well as more physically active activities, with very few art activities.

As a young girl in Scouts, I clearly remember feeling jealous of the more mature and adventurous activities the Boy Scouts were participating in, such as archery, hiking, fire building and first aid. Meanwhile, our Girl Scout meetings consisted of lots of arts and crafts, including making swaps (tiny, handmade tokens that symbolize friendship, usually made out pipe cleaners, fabric and glitter glue) that we would later exchange with the other troops at our elementary school at the annual Girl Scout sleepover (a lock-in at the school, not at a campsite).

Now that girls can join the Boy Scouts, they can pursue experiences and skills they otherwise wouldn’t under the somewhat ancient feminine ideals of Girl Scouts. But without any plans to change the organization name, according to CNN, how can we really believe “Scouts BSA” will truly be inclusive of its new female members?

Possibly the youngest of Scouts will be most accepting of this change, and the young boys and girls can grow as they interact with each other without being divided by gender. Maybe that generation won’t know of gender specific tasks or activities, and they can go on to impact the world without competing against each other.