Sitting at my usual corner table in the back of Buzzy’s 8-Ball Tavern and Pool Room, It occurred to me on Thursday night that there are any number of serious issues and current crisis that we could talk about for this week’s dispatch from the front lines.
But setting all those issues aside, let me tell you something that may have escaped your attention while you’ve been busy digging a backyard bomb shelter or getting up to speed on which starlets haven’t been groped by Weinstein. Apparently, and I did not see this coming, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) leadership has decided to open the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts to, wait for it… girls.
Now, if you’re like me, you probably have always assumed that boys would tend to join the Boy Scouts and girls would tend to gravitate to the Girl Scouts. Boys whittled wood into sharp, pointy things and set fire to stuff, while girls generated an incredible amount of revenue selling delicious cookies. I’m particularly fond of Samoas.
My oldest boy Scooter is in the Cub Scouts, and I can vouch for the fact that he and his Den cohorts love to whittle. They can take a 400 pound oak log and turn it into a sharp, pointy twig in less time than it takes to whistle the theme to "The Andy Griffith Show." To be honest, they’re a pack of smelly, loud boys with a remarkable ability to recite the entire Scout oath while actually burping. I can see why girls would be clamoring to join.
In reality, most are not. And the Girl Scouts of America, which after taking into account global cookie sales, I believe is the country’s 7th largest corporation, have criticized what they see as a blatant effort to increase membership dues by the BSA. Membership numbers are down in general for youth groups across America so this may be less about gender and more about dough. Which reminds me, I also like the Thin Mints.
Back in August of this year, the president of the Girl Scouts sent a letter to the BSA president stating “…I formally request that your organization stay focused on serving the 90 per cent of American boys not currently participating in Boy Scouts… and not consider expanding to recruit girls.” That, my friends, is how you win a merit badge for subtle insult.
At this point, It would be fairly easy to morph this into a high brow column about gender fluidity and the need to be considerate over what pronouns someone uses when referring to their particular identification. Or perhaps turn to the subject of gender equality and how girls and boys are really no different and so no association or organization should exclude one or the other.
But I’m a guy, raising a houseful of little guys, and so my thinking isn’t particularly complicated. I’m guessing the BSA’s decision is partly driven by a need for additional revenue, as suggested by the Girl Scouts leadership, and likely in part out of concern that they might be sued by some overly sensitive soul who wants to prove a point that most folks really don’t care about.
I admit to being a bit old fashioned. Believing that there’s a place for a Boy Scouts organization and a Girl Scouts organization that focus on their respective genders doesn’t make me a misogynist or a sexist or anything else ending in “ist” or even an “ism.” I happen to believe that there’s value and benefit in girls having their own space and boys having their own space on occasion…as long as they offer equal space and opportunity.
I know that Scooter and his pals at their current stage of life would prefer to keep the “no girls allowed” sign on their clubhouse door. And trust me, they don’t feel triggered by the idea that they can’t join the Girl Scouts. Give them a couple years and they’ll see things differently…they may even realize girls don’t find it attractive when you make farting noises. Although to be fair, I didn’t have that epiphany until my mid 20s.
Are there a significant number of girls who feel outraged over not being part of the Boy Scouts? I would have done that research but it seems like a lot of work and I’ve been busy whittling.
Apparently the leadership of the Girl Scouts isn’t inclined to think that there’s a growing demand by girls to be Boy Scouts. For their part, the BSA leadership claims the change was designed to provide more options for parents. According to BSA’s Chief Scout Executive, “We believe it is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children.”
So there you have it. Sally can now be a Cub Scout. And soon, Sally can join the Boy Scouts and eventually earn the coveted Eagle Scout award. I haven’t raised this development with Scooter yet. He may or may not care, it’s hard to tell what a 10-year-old boy’s response will be. But I’ll bet you a box of cookies there’ll be a fart noise involved.