Lots in the news recently about the list of things that Girl Guides in the UK have reported as wanting to have training or acquire skills in – full details here.
Interesting results: of the 16-25 age group, 80% said they wanted more sex education (perhaps this will help); in the 10-15, 68% wanted to learn how to stand up to boys; 65% self-defence.
Initially positive news, I thought – good that the Guides are responding to the voiced concerns of their members. And indeed, the report claims that the survey was conducted because ‘we prioritise giving girls the skills, experiences and opportunities they need to reach for new aspirations and succeed in the modern world’ (so says Chief Guide Liz Burnley).
….However, I hate to say it, but further investigation lead me to the following conclusion about the best way to get equipped with skills for the modern world: join the Scouts (female members permitted)!
Just take a look at the respective list of activities badges, here and here. As a Guide, one can take badges in camping, science, team leading. Not bad, I thought, til I noticed that as a Scout, one could take badges in many more topics, with much greater specificity: for example, in aviation skills, meteorology, dragon boating, public relations.
And there’s some annoying gendered badges: for Guides, cook and ‘finding your way’ badges; for scouts, chef and orienteering badges.
Further, one might think that a more general point is in the offing: each organisation representing a distinctive strategy for gender equality. One same sex organisation, which provides activities in a way that seems to rely on gender differences, with the projects accordingly attuned (the site tells us: “there is one element that remains central to the ideas and ambitions of Girlguiding UK: the ‘girl’.” I find that way of putting it kind of disturbing!); on the other hand, an organisation for both sexes, aiming for ‘A more balanced and natural environment in which young people can develop … [with] a more diverse range of skills, qualities and interests’. (see the incredibly level-headed training document on mixed scouting here).
Interesting to think about how the gender perceptions of younger generations are being formed, given these will be the feminists of the future (one hopes)!