Re: Women in the '90s in BSA
Jim Sleezer (JHS8@OSUVM1.BITNET)
Wed, 22 Dec 1993 09:51:52 CST
I remember when my mother, a den MOTHER for 15+ years, could not be a merit
badge counselor. They wanted her to work with the Scouts and then give them
a note to take to the counselor who would sign the form. She refused to
give them notes but did help them with the requirements. She had a craft
shop and lots of kids came in to do basketry, leatherwork, Indian lore,
pottery, etc. The ones that came to her actually made a cane chair seat
rather than the grass mats I saw being made at summer camp. She helped them
do whatever they wanted and if they used the project for the merit badge that
was ok. She was pleased when the rules finally let women be MB counselors.
Her efforts were directed at getting the system to change itself. She refused
to work around it (example above) and kept insisting that the powers that be
should implement changes to meet the needs. She also encouraged other women
to stick to the rules and "make the men do what they say they HAVE to do." I
think she was instrumental in the local council with getting the men to
recognize that gender wasn't as much of an issue as they made it out to be.
If Mom was around today I think she would tell other women to quit apologizing
for "being a woman in a _man's_ job" and just do the job. Personally, I am
offended when a woman says something like "I'm only a woman, I don't know. . ."
If they left off the first part, things would be fine. It is ok to not know,
but it isn't ok to blame gender. It is just as inappropriate for someone to
categorize themselves in a group as it is for someone outside the group to
categorize the group. Generalizations should be avoided, shunned, etc.
Next, she would say something like "quit trying to be better than the men, just
be the best that you can be." If that happens to be better than the "men,"
that is fine but irrelevant. What is important is that you have done your
best. (She was a cub leader at heart so "Do Your Best" popped up frequently.)
And finally, she would encourage people to teach cubs and scouts a variety of
skills, not just those attributed to the male gender. Members of her den
learned to cook (made their own treats on the family stove) and sew (made
their own marionettes including hand sewn costumes) and hammer and saw (made
a portable stage with curtains, lights, etc. for presentation of the marionette
show) and play rough and tumble games. I do remember that she avoided the
cutesy type trinkets, projects tended to be a bit larger in physical size, but
gender roles were avoided in working with the boys. I think it helped her
cubs be a bit less gender biased in their view of the world.
Hope some of this will be helpful . . . and that your presentation goes well.
And remember, don't try to be better, just do your best.
Roundtable Commissioner, Pawnee Bill District, Will Rogers Council
JHS8 at OSUVM1.BITNET JHS8 at VM1.UCC.OKSTATE.EDU (Internet)
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City