“I’ll Be Dating Her in Ten Years” — Why the Girl Scouts of America Should Refuse to March in the 2017 Inaugural Parade
In 2003, the Girl Scout Research Institute published a study called “Feeling Safe: What Girls Say,” which explored how pre-teen and teenage girls define and experience safety, and how they cope with physically and emotionally unsafe situations. In this study, girls were “very vocal about the adverse effects of emotional harm they suffer from being teased, judged, abandoned and/or betrayed.”
When I learned this morning that the Scouts will send a delegation to march in the Inaugural Parade for Donald J. Trump this Friday, I felt abandoned and betrayed by the very organization that raised me.
I am a lifetime Girl Scout. Every Monday for a decade, from ages eight through eighteen, I attended a Girl Scout meeting. I was a Brownie, a Junior, a Cadette, and a Senior scout. After graduating from high school — and from Scouting — I volunteered as a leader for several years in my early 20s.
We went camping twice a year, participated in field trips and museum visits, gathered with other scouts from around New York City, and learned about the world and ourselves. I earned badges related to my community, managing finances and business sense, civic engagement and citizenship, history, health, other cultures, math, science, music, art, and being “ready for tomorrow.” But none of the badges prepared me for what it would feel like when the organization I grew up in, the organization where I felt empowered and emboldened, the organization that taught me to stand up for myself and others, would betray its own legacy by parading young girls in front of a misogynist.
In 1992 Donald Trump was filmed on an escalator passing a young girl of around eight or nine years old. He said, “I’ll be dating her in ten years.” As his candidacy grew, so did the number of sexual assault claims against him, some going as far back as the 1980s. One of these alleged attacks was on a thirteen-year-old girl.
Trump has a habit of calling women he doesn’t like derogatory names — fat, ugly, pig, and dog among them. All his insults reduce the woman to nothing more than her looks. To Trump, women are objects of sexual titillation, and nothing more. Not the leaders and scientists and entrepreneurs and artists that girls learn they can be through Scouting. In a 1992 interview with New York Magazine, Trump uttered this charming phrase about women: “You have to treat ’em like s — -.”
This is a man who has said he “demands dinner on the table” from his wife; who calls women “gold diggers,” and who in May of 2000 rated women he wanted to have sex with. In 2006, he reduced his own daughter when he told Howard Stern it was ok to call her a “piece of ass.”
Hillary Clinton — herself a former Girl Scout — was the first woman candidate of a major party for President of the United States. Regardless of one’s opinions of Secretary Clinton’s politics, it cannot be ignored that she was subjected over and over again to Trump’s misogyny. During the campaign, Trump joked that because Clinton couldn’t “satisfy” her husband (a reference to Bill Clinton’s infidelity), she couldn’t be relied on to “satisfy” the country. Despite Clinton’s law degree, service as Senator and Secretary of State, and personhood, Donald Trump reduced her to a sexual joke.
In the first debate, he interrupted Clinton 25 times in the first 26 minutes.
In the second debate, he paced and prowled over her when it was her turn to answer questions. Experts who studied the video have said that it was aggressively bullying behavior, meant to intimidate and control.
In the third debate he uttered, “Such a nasty woman.”
His slurs were not just directed to Secretary Clinton. Carly Fiorina, a Republican candidate, was also subject to Trump’s sexism. Diminishing her to her appearance, Trump said, “Look at her face. Would anyone vote for that?”
Megyn Kelly got it, too. When he felt she questioned him too aggressively in a debate, he accused her of menstruating, as though a female biological event were disgusting and shameful.
Every Monday in the basement of Salem Lutheran Church in Brooklyn, New York, I stood with my fellow Girl Scouts in a line, age-order from the youngest troop of Juniors to the oldest Senior scouts. Together, we recited the Girl Scout Promise, followed by the Girl Scout Law:
I will do my best to be:
honest and fair
considerate and caring
courageous and strong
and responsible for what I say and do.
respect myself and others
use resources wisely
protect and improve the world around me
and be a sister to every Girl Scout.
When I became a teacher — a job I was inspired to take because of the joy I took as a Girl Scout leader — I used the Law to help create the rules of my classroom. Even today, at thirty three, I think of the Law often and use it to guide my behavior.
Donald Trump is not honest. According to Politifact, his statements are true only 4% of the time. They are ranked “mostly true” only 11% of the time.
Donald Trump is not fair. He unjustly attacks women, immigrants, people of color, people with disabilities, and other marginalized groups.
He is not considerate or caring. In a now-infamous Access Hollywood video, Trump told Billy Bush that when he sees a woman he considers beautiful, “I just start kissing them…. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the p — — . You can do anything.”
And he is certainly not responsible for what he says and does. Rather than admit fault for his actions, Trump “apologized if anyone was offended,” and dismissed the Access Hollywood tape as “locker room banter” of no real consequence.
Donald Trump is the antithesis of what Girl Scouts promise to be when they pledge to follow the Girl Scout Law. Why would you ask girls to march in support of him?
When I pledged to follow the Girl Scout Law each week for a decade, I had three favorite parts. These were the lines that made me most proud to be a Scout. They were:
1) Respect myself and others
2) [Be] courageous and strong
3) [Be] a sister to every Girl Scout.
We cannot ask girls to simultaneously march in honor of Trump and respect themselves. The two run converse to one another. Self-respecting women do not collude in their own oppression. What is really taking place is that the girls are being asked to put “respect authority” ahead of respecting themselves, even in the face of an authority figure who is a sexual predator. In normalizing Trump, the Girl Scouts are asking girls to normalize misogyny.
Instead, I call on the Girl Scout Council of America to be courageous and strong, and break with their tradition of marching in the Inaugural Parade this year. I understand that this has taken place since 1917, but you cannot put custom ahead of the girls you serve. Teach them the true meaning of courage by doing something that might be unpopular; teach them the true meaning of strength by saying, “No, we will not let men objectify you, no matter who they are, and neither should you.”
Finally, I call on the Girl Scouts to truly be sisters to one another. In addition to women, Trump has also targeted specific groups of people, all of which include girls: Muslim girls, Mexican girls, LGBTQ girls, poor girls, girls with disabilities. Girl Scouting is for every girl, and that bond of sisterhood must not be broken, be it by politics or tradition.
Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts, once said, “Scouting rises within you and inspires you to put forth your best.” I call on this organization, which I hold dear, using the values I learned as a Scout: courage, valor, intelligence, reason, strength, and a desire to improve the world around me. I call on the Girl Scouts of America to put forth their best, by holding back from the Inaugural March.