Girl Scouts of America to March in Trump’s Inaugural Parade, Inspiring Very Mixed Feelings
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) January 16, 2017
The Presidential Inaugural Committee announced the lineup for Friday’s inaugural parade. Many organizations you’d expect to be marching will be: military organizations, college and high school marching bands, and the Boy Scouts of America. One surprise is the Navajo Code Talkers Association (especially considering the situation in Standing Rock, Trump’s personal history with Native Americans, and a DAPL supporter becoming Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee). The other surprise participants? The Girl Scouts of America.
As a former Girl Scout, I don’t know what bothers me more: the fact that the GSA has agreed to participate in the inaugural parade of a President who’s been charged with sexually assaulting women several times over, or the fact that, if you look at the list of participants, the Girl Scouts are listed once in the Third Division, whereas the Boy Scouts are in just about every division of the parade. That’s pretty much a microcosm of my greatest fear about Trump’s America. Sure, women and girls can participate … shuffled in the middle somewhere … in a limited way that’s not too loud or, you know, present. And male voices will always be more important and given more space.
Understandably, many former Girl Scouts and parents of Girl Scouts are not happy:
— Sarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior) January 17, 2017
Now here’s the thing, and you’ll see it right in the Girl Scout Law above: scouting organizations are generally not about disruption or protest. They’re about “respecting authority,” “serving God and [their] country,” and to “be a sister to every Girl Scout.” Not ever girl, or every woman, but every Girl Scout. Those are the only female people to whom the Girl Scouts swear allegiance. So, anyone expecting the Girl Scouts to do something daring in the name of the wider cause of feminism should probably remember that that’s a lot to expect from an organization that places value on authority and membership to an organization.
However, the Girl Scouts are also about—again, it’s right there in their own laws—“courageous and strong,” “responsible for what I say and do,” and “make the world a better place.” So, Girl Scouts are tasked with both “respecting authority,” and “making the world a better place” while being “courageous and strong.”
So what happens when the person or people who have authority are actively doing things that make the world a worse place? How does that jive?
As you know, for 100 years, Girl Scouts Nation’s Capital has participated in the presidential inauguration. The event is an important symbol of our democracy and the peaceful transition of power. Girl Scouts will participate in this historic event because at Girl Scouts, civic engagement, responsibility and duty are at the heart of our values and ideals. It is written into our promise and law, which among other things calls on girls to serve their country, respect authority and make the world a better place.
They also insist that individual members have the choice of participating or not participating:
— Girl Scouts (@girlscouts) January 17, 2017
The thing is, these are girls, and they join Girl Scouts to learn: how to be women, how to engage with the world around them, etc. As an organization, it’s the Girl Scouts’ job to give these girls context and real options for stuff like this. Otherwise, regardless of the “choice” they have, you’re basically teaching them that they are somehow bad people or “Girl Scouting wrong” if they don’t march in the parade.
I know this is probably too much to hope for, but I hope that the Girl Scouts will also have an official presence at the Women’s March this weekend. Those that march in the inauguration parade, I hope that some are marching only to silently protest somehow, maybe wearing a “Nasty Woman” t-shirt under their merit badge sashes. I hope there’s at least one girl in that DC troop that considers it her duty, as part of her “civic engagement,” to hold up a sign as she marches that reads #NOTMYPRESIDENT.
This is unlikely, but it’s the only way I could feel okay about an organization that purports to make girls stronger, but in practice, only reminds them of their place.
(featured image via Sheila Fitzgerald/Shutterstock)
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