…but yeah. Instead, might I share the most insidious little statement I came across today:
Picture the world through the eyes of a Girls Inc. girl. She belongs to a community that empowers her to pursue the biggest dreams she can dream. She is uplifted by the strength of a national organization that is committed to inspiring the leaders of tomorrow.
This is how Girls Inc. celebrates girlhood. Join us.
Gaaah. Perhaps it sounds innocuous enough, but being a teenaged Girl Scout jaded me, I guess. I was determined to prove to at least myself that there is something sinister lurking beneath it all, and, lo and behold, it didn’t take long …
Under their “Advocacy Statements,” Girls Inc. proclaims that the organization
“supports freedom of choice, a right recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 in Roe v. Wade and by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1988 in R v. Morgentaler.”
They likewise call for “sensitive, comprehensive sexuality education” and access to contraception, medical privacy and “referral to information, counselling, clinical, and other services that support their responsible decisions.” And we all know what that means.
What’s interesting is that Girls, Inc. traces its roots back to an earlier organization from the mid to late 1800s here in New England. It ran centers for young girls who would otherwise be in the streets of mill towns while their parents worked away for the Industrial Revolution.
Isn’t this telling:
“Programming in the early days was focused on recreation and on preparing girls for their future roles as wives and homemakers. Every local organization had courses in cooking, sewing, knitting; some offered dramatics and swimming. During the 1950s, even though many women did work outside the home, women’s roles as wives and mothers were romanticized as the ultimate in femininity. Where a century earlier, women had fought for higher education, by the mid-1950’s, 60 percent of female college students dropped out to marry, or because they were afraid too much education might reduce their chances for marriage. …
It is interesting to note that Girls Incorporated maintained its traditional focus clear through the 1960s. The original statement of purpose and philosophy, written in 1937, was: “Little girls of today are the homemakers of the future, and the mothers of the next generation of citizens. Opportunities given to them now for cultural background, for building healthy minds and bodies, for training in homecraft and a basic knowledge of motherhood — these determine the standards of our future homes.”
A document from the 20th Anniversary celebration in 1965 stated: “Let us simply rededicate ourselves continuously to those good old principles which have brought us in fairly good health to this day.”
Those principles would soon change as Girls Incorporated responded to the changing times.
And thus came the call for condoms, “freedom of choice,” and quasi-creepy quotes from girls like Mytha, age 6:
“It’s good to be a girl in this world today. I like being a girl because I can speak for myself. I can stand up for myself. Being a girl makes me strong.”
I find it sad that I can’t help but imagine 22-year-old Mytha and her perception that there is an unbreachable dichotomy between feminine dignity and strength and women’s “romanticized” roles as wives and mothers. I also wonder at a connection between this engrained mentality and a later conclusion that to “stand up for” herself precludes allowing anyone from carrying her, or loving her, at all.
As one who struggled — and sometimes still does — with the realization that the career-centered dreams that Sesame Street, the Girl Scouts and even my parents encouraged as I grew up just cannot fit intact, perfectly-as-dreamt, with my deeper desire to pour myself out as a wife and mother: I don’t think I’m romanticizing my vocation at all.
And heck, I’m the one who admits to crying over pictures of the Pope and little kids.
So, yes, I was peeved that apparently a whole new, raging breed of mini, 6-year-old feminists are being taught that, basically, my choice to get married and supply them with future babysitting charges is dumb. That is, if in another six years they still think it’s cool to babysit.
I’m irritated and saddened: because “liking” oneself and finding joy in the strength that comes with being a girl is one thing, but with this organization, it doesn’t seem to stop there.