The subtleness within our gender divide starts from the moment you leave your mother’s womb. After the nurses and surgeons verify your biological sex, you are categorized into the gender dichotomy: female and male. Once you are dichotomized, you are forever cursed by the edges of your own skin: Forever expected to perform in a certain way, to act in a certain way. If you betray the rules associated with each sex, you are reprimanded and judged by your friends, family, and coworkers for playing an incorrect role – and you might feel ashamed. You may feel like you did something wrong, even when you did nothing wrong.
These gender expectations start from birth, solidified through adolescence, and postulated in adulthood. Below I explore one instance in which these roles and expectations are permanently established in America’s adolescence:
Recently, Boy Scouts of America announced a decision to allow transgender boys to participate in their organization, opening enrollment based on gender identity, a significant win for the LGBTQ community. Although this shift in enrollment demonstrates Boy Scouts of America’s progressive thinking, it does something else simultaneously, it stimulates a primitive notion that negates female enrollment.
Girls have the option of participating in Girl Scouts of the USA. And in the same respect, a transgender girl is welcome into the program. But my concern here is, if these two programs are fundamentally different, if they have distinct core values and messages for development, why are these programs divided by gender?
Whether someone identifies as a male or identifies as a female shouldn’t have been an issue because these organizations shouldn’t be divided by gender.
Take a look at the Girl Scouts of the USA’s promise and compare it to the Boy Scouts of America’s oath. Notice the subtle differences (I stress these subtle differences because women’s marginalization is largely based on these concealed subtle differences).
Boy Scouts of America Oath
On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.
Girl Scouts of America Oath
On my honor, I will try:
To serve God and my country,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.
Girl Scout Law
I will do my best to be
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
and to respect myself and others,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.
Here’s my analysis:
- Boy Scouts have a duty to God; Girl Scouts serve God.
Each of these sentences alone are harmless, juxtaposed and we have clear evidence of disparate gender roles. If you read these two sentences together, it can be read as, “Boys have the moral obligation to uphold the law; Girls have the obligation to obey (This is an example of a subtle difference between gender roles).
- Boy Scouts prepare to be physically strong; Girl Scouts are responsible for what they say and do.
Boy Scouts are praised for their physical strength and Girl Scouts are praised for their mental strength.
- Boy Scouts are morally straight; Girl Scouts make the world a better place.
I particularly have a disdain for the term “morally straight” because it has negative connotations that can be demeaning toward the heterosexual community.
My intention for my analysis is not meant to suggest that Boy Scouts of America is better than the Girl Scouts of the USA or that Girl Scouts of the USA is better than the Boy Scouts of America. I am, however, suggesting that these two organizations have differing values that should not be categorized by gender.
Boys should have the option to build mental strength, make the world a better place, and be responsible for what they say, and girls should have the option to be physically strong.
Maybe if boys were responsible for what they say, we wouldn’t have a President that denigrates women.
– The Angry Feminist