Some Thoughts on Scouting, Gender Differences, and Equality

Am I the only person who sees this so clearly?

I’m on Twitter a lot — even more lately since I’m trying to rest up to prevent a mild cold from becoming a bad one. One of the accounts I follow is Stephen Colbert. I’m a big fan — which, by the way, is the only reason I subscribe to CBS All Access — and although he doesn’t tweet often, what he has to say is usually right on target. Yesterday, he tweeted about the Boy Scouts of America now allowing girls to join: “How about we drop the whole “boy” and “girl” scouts thing and call them what they are: Kids with knives who know how to set fires.”

He was trying to be funny, of course, but there was a deeper meaning to his tweet. At least I found one. I replied, “I think @boyscouts and @girlscouts should merge as just plain SCOUTS to keep scouting alive and teach the same skills to all.” My suggestion — which I was completely serious about — seemed to be a hit with other Twitter users. At last count, it had 242 “likes,” which is pretty good for one of my tweets. I was almost immediately directed to an organization called Navigators USA, which seems (from its website) to promote the kind of healthy attitude we need in kids. Another Twitter user tweeted “That’s how it is overseas” and someone else immediately agreed.

The conversation took off in all kinds of directions, ranging from cookie sales to corruption to exposés on Boy Scout policies. Some of it was interesting, other tweets were propagandist. I enjoyed reminiscing about cookie sales with another person around my age. But the direction that interested me was the one that seemed to concern a handful of people: the differences between boys and girls. One person tweeted:

What is wrong with having Girl Scouts as well as Boy Scouts? Why don’t boys want to join the Girl Scouts ? What’s wrong with males and females being different? Why do women want to be the same as men? Gender will never go away no matter the century

Wow. Just wow.

In 240 characters — which I have yet to be endowed with — he managed to pinpoint the root of the problem in today’s gender biased world.

He wasn’t the only one with this backwards thinking. Another woman tweeted: “There are boys and there are girls different in many ways, I believe that’s a good thing!!” Then she went on to add, in typical gutsy-because-of-anonimity fashion: “Maria, there’s something really wrong with you!” (And if you haven’t guessed it, yes, she is a #MAGA Trump supporter. Sheesh.)

Still another argued that “Boys need Men (whether gay, straight, whatever) ALL men! Girls need strong women mentors. The rest is all sorted out as we (hopefully) grow.” When I attempted to engage her in a conversation pointing out that gender roles were old fashioned thinking, she finally blurted, “Yes, we’ll all become robots.” Where did that come from? I had enough, said goodbye, and muted her.

I figured this might be a good time to blog more thoroughly about my thoughts on this matter.

Gender Differences

Yes, there are biological differences between boys and girls. I will not argue that. I am a human, I’ve had sex, I’ve seen naked men and women. We are different.

Some people will argue that those biological differences extend to thinking and brain function. I am not qualified to comment on that. I’m not a neuroscientist or a psychologist. I don’t even know enough about those two fields to be able to link to studies that prove one idea or another on this topic. I don’t want to mislead people by sharing information I can’t verify so I won’t.

I’ll just tell you what my 50+ years as a female in America have shown me.

I was one of two girls in my family. My sister is very close in age — only 16 months younger than me. We were raised together almost as if we were twins.

But I became the tomboy. While my sister was playing with her friend’s dolls, I was playing with her friend’s brother’s Hot Wheels. I was doing jumps on my bike, whittling pointy sticks with a pocket knife (and I still have the scar where the damn thing closed on my finger), and reading race car magazines I got from a friend. Sure, I had dolls and yes, I did occasionally play with them — when I was younger. But there were other things that interested me more.

And yes, my mother raised me as a girl. I learned to cook and sew — hell, I made clothes on a sewing machine for my Barbie doll. I learned how to clean house and change diapers — my brother came along when I was eight — and do all the other things a woman was expected (in those days, anyway) to take care of when she got married and started a family. And most of these things have served me well all my life.

(And no, I never identified as a boy or was attracted to women sexually. In all honesty, I found most — but not all — women pretty dull and still do.)

But my mother never taught me to troubleshoot a broken vacuum cleaner or rewire a wall socket. She never explained how to replace the workings of a toilet tank. She never showed me how to change a tire or even how to check a tire to see if a tire’s pressure was low because it had sat too long or if it had an actual leak.

These are all skills I’ve used more than once throughout my life. Skills that are taught to boys but not girls.


And why is it that boys aren’t taught how to cook or sew or clean house? Well, maybe they are these days, but when I was a kid in the 60s and 70s, boys were expected to be in shop class and not home economics.

I doubt they would have let me into shop class. As it was, I was the only girl in drafting class in high school.

Our culture and education system supported gender differences. Boys did and learned these things and girls did and learned these other things. There was little overlap.

And that sets up dependencies. Women depending on men to do specific things for them; men depending on women to do other things for them.

It’s quaint and I’m sure some of the Twitter users I quoted above seem to think it’s “right.” But is it?

Why should either gender be reliant on the other for basic tasks of everyday life? Why should I have to “call a man” to come fix my toilet when I can buy a kit at the hardware store for $15 and do it myself? Why should a man, when his wife goes off on ladies night, have to eat leftovers or take out food when he should be able to cook a meal for himself?

Yes, there are gender differences. But should those differences limit the capabilities of a man or woman?

I say no.


I have to admit that I don’t know much about today’s scouting organizations. I was a Brownie and a Girl Scout and even a Cadet for a short time back in the late 60s and early 70s. But I don’t have kids so I don’t have experience with scouting beyond that experience.

I will say this: When I was in the Girl Scouts, they taught a wide range of skills ranging from basic homemaking skills (cooking, sewing, cleaning) to outdoor skills (camping, making fires, cooking outdoors, first aid). As I mentioned in a recent blog post, I learned how to shoot a rifle in Girl Scouts. We learned teamwork and the importance of being prepared for anything. I also sold cookies, door to door, which taught me how to approach strangers and ask them to buy something they didn’t need. (And yes, I know that door-to-door sales by kids is difficult in today’s crazy world, but it’s still possible with supervision.)

My favorite part of Girl Scouts was always the camping trips. Cooking our own meals over hot coals, telling ghost stories, sleeping with a bunch of girls in a platform tent similar to the one I own now, having raccoons run over our feet because someone left a candy bar in their duffle bag. Hiking in the woods, whittling sticks, getting dirty. I loved it all.

And I still cook that aluminum foil chicken and vegetable dinner once in a while when I’m camping with friends.

I suspect Girl Scouts is very different these days. I hope not.

I truly believe that scouting can teach valuable skills to kids. I’m not just talking about the skills I listed above — or those that Stephen Colbert mentioned jokingly in his tweet — I’m talking about social and interpersonal skills. I’m talking about values, like self-reliance and respect for diversity. And perhaps respect for the opposite gender.

And that’s where I was going with my tweet. I don’t see why we need two separate scouting organizations. Why can’t girls and boys play and learn together? Why do we have to stress differences? Why can’t we focus on how we’re the same?

Gender Equality

And all that comes back to what I’ve been saying for years about gender equality:

It’s impossible for women to be treated the same as men if society continues to stress how different they are.

I’m in my third career in a male-dominated field. I’ve had success in all three careers. Could it be, in part, because of the way I think?

I think I’m equal, therefore I am.

On average, I was equal in skills to my male counterparts in every career. Probably better than some and not quite as good as others. But certainly good enough to get the job done in a way that kept me employed and earning a good living.

And has anyone ever heard me whine about equal pay or how hard it is to be a woman?

Maybe it’s the acceptance of society’s “norms” that are keeping women from achieving everything they can?

Maybe it’s the backwards thinking that boys and girls are different so we need to treat them differently from birth. From the toys we offer them to the things we teach them at home, in school, and in organizations like scouting, we are feeding gender inequality.

Maybe it’s time to stop?

In Defiance of Logic and Reason

My thoughts on a photo that sickens me.

I’m trying very hard this election cycle not to blog about politics. There are a couple of reasons for this.

First, I don’t want to alienate readers who come to read posts covering the wide variety of topics I write about but may disagree with me on politics.

Second, I know damn well that the folks who have been paying attention to the presidential elections this year have already made up their minds and there’s nothing I can say that will change them.

But sometimes a push comes to a shove and I’ve been pushed a few too many times this past week.

Where We Are

If you have been paying attention, you know how crazy this election cycle is.

On one side, we have a qualified, politically experienced, and knowledgable candidate who has been in public service in many different roles for about 30 years. She’s been haunted by conspiracy theories that focus not only on her but on her husband. She’s been battling investigations and insinuations for years, with a patience and fortitude I find amazing. And although most of the dirty rumors about her have been proven false, many Americans continue to believe that she’s some sort of evil monster that will take away their guns, abort their fetuses, and send them to death panels.

On the other side, we have a “successful” billionaire — if you consider six bankruptcies a sign of success — who clearly has very little knowledge about the Constitution, world affairs, or the global economy. He got his start in life with a million dollars from his rich father, who, along with various banks, has bailed him out of more financial trouble than the average person can even imagine. He’s bashed minorities, immigrants, veterans, African Americans, Muslims, and women — what he says about each group depends on who he’s speaking in front of. He incites violence at his rallies, hinting at one that “second amendment people” — gun owners? — could stop his opponent from nominating Supreme Court justices they didn’t like. He sees conspiracy theories everywhere and has even promoted one of the biggest: the so-called racist “birther movement.” And he’s already planted seeds with his supporters that if he doesn’t win the election, it’s because it’s “rigged.”

You can find articles online in reputable publications that support everything I’ve just said. Just Google and be mindful of the difference between investigative journalism like you might find at the Washington Post or New York Times and opinion pieces you might find at Fox News.

Of course, if you’re a Trump supporter, you’re not likely to trust any of the media since your boy Donald told you not to. You’ve drunk his Kool-Aid and all I have for you is pity.

“Locker Room” Talk

But that’s not what I’m writing about today. I’m writing about “conservative” women supporting predatory sexual harassment and assault.

Let’s get this straight: Bragging to an acquaintance that being a star lets you kiss women or touch (or grab) their genitals without their consent is not locker room talk. Not the locker room talk of men who have any amount of respect for women. Such talk is crude and lewd and clearly indicates an attitude of misogyny far beyond what should be tolerable in civilized society.

But what’s worse is that it indicates an attitude that says sexual assault is okay. This is a prime example of the rape culture that keeps making its way into the news

I cannot tell you how my blood boils when I hear women who call themselves “conservatives” claim that their men talk like that. Really? Your men really talk about forcing themselves on random women, about grabbing them “by the pussy”? Then what the fuck are you still doing with them? How can you possibly tolerate life with someone who thinks so poorly of women that they’d talk about women in such a way? And what are you teaching your daughters about women’s roles and rights? Why are you holding them back in your sorry backwards world?

I feel sorry for the women who honestly believe that “all men” talk like this. They don’t.

And with Trump, it’s not just talk, ladies. It’s actions. Since the release of the “bus video” last week, women have been stepping forward to tell their stories about how Trump kissed them or touched them or groped them against their will. Or walked into beauty pageant dressing rooms to gawk at young women while they changed their clothes. Every day, more women come forward with more stories or confirmation of those already told.

Donald Trump is the new Bill Cosby. Presidential material? I think not.

About the Photo

But I’m not really writing about that, either. What I’m really writing about is this photo, which has been circulating around Twitter, Facebook, and the rest of the Internet for a few days.

This Makes Me Sick
This makes me sick.

This photo makes me sick.

Here’s a woman proving to the world that Hillary Clinton was right: half of Trumps supporters are deplorable. How else could you label a woman who wears a shirt like this in public?

How can a woman think so poorly of herself that she invites sexual advances from a 70-year-old pervert?

How does she explain this to her children? Or grandchildren? What is she teaching them?

Do women like this one realize how they are degrading all women? How they are holding back other women from being taken seriously in school or the workplace? How they’re dirtying the rest of us with their appalling behavior?

(This is even lower than women who use lingerie photos of themselves to attract men on dating sites, but we won’t go there.)

And does she not see the irony in this? Does she not realize that Trump’s disdain for women who are not “beautiful” and for women who are overweight would likely make her a target for his ridicule?

Is she really that dimwitted and brainwashed?

What is this fucking country coming to? It’s gotten to the point that I ask myself this every day.

Comments Are Open

Comment are open — at least for now. The discussion is about this photo and the bus video that started this chapter of Donald Trump’s campaign. It’s not about Hillary Clinton. It’s not about Bill Clinton. It’s not even about Bill Cosby. It’s about this photo of this woman and the message she sends to the world about herself, Trump supporters, and the rest of our country.

And yes, I do realize that there are third party candidates. This isn’t about them, either.

Stay civil. Comments are moderated; you might want to read the comment policy before wasting your time posting something that won’t be seen.

Comments about anything other than this photo or the bus video that prompted the subject of this photo will not appear here, even if they do get through my blacklists and junk filters.

Ladies! Don’t Be Afraid!

There’s no reason you shouldn’t do what you want to do.

The tweet that prompted this post.

Yesterday, one of my Twitter friends shared a tweet that contained a list of the “Top 10 things British women would love to do but are too scared.” The heading at the top of the list asked if readers had done any of them.

I looked at the list and realized I’d done seven of them.

Which ones? Let’s go down the list:

  • Ask for a pay raise. Although I haven’t had an “employer” for more than 20 years, I have asked clients for increases in the rates they pay me — most recently just last week. I honestly can’t remember if I asked my last employers for a raise; in most cases the raises and promotions came automatically and I didn’t need to ask.
  • Travel or holiday alone. I do this all the time — and have been doing it since I began driving in the late 1970s. Hell, I remember taking a train to Canada by myself with just $20 in my pocket when I was 20. One of my Top 10 vacations, in fact, was the “midlife crisis road trip” I took in 2005. I spent 19 days cruising around Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Idaho in my little convertible with no destination or reservations. I had a blast!
  • Get a tattoo. I have two of them on my right ankle. I got them in the 1990s, before everyone and their kid was getting them.
  • Have a bikini wax. Check. ‘Nuff said.
  • Short Hair
    My hair was actually growing out in this photo from 2012.

    Get your hair cut very short. The first time was in the early 1980s when I got a perm cut out down in Greenwich Village in New York City. That was quite a shock to most folks. After that, I wore my hair short much of the time, getting a few super short haircuts in summer months. My hair is shoulder length now for the first time in more than 30 years. I still haven’t decided if I like it this way.

  • Ask someone out on a date. Still doing that once in a while. Sometimes I’m disappointed, sometimes I’m not.
  • Quit your job. Not only did I quit my job way back in 1990, but I quit it to start a freelance career. That takes courage. But sometimes you need to cut ties to move forward — a tip for any kind of relationship, including employment.

What about the other three? Let’s take a look:

  • Sing in public/karaoke. I’ve never actually seen live karaoke and haven’t had the opportunity to do it. Not sure if I would, though. Is it cowardice? Probably some version of it. No one likes to look like a fool in public.
  • Do a naked photo shoot. It isn’t fear that stops me from doing this. It’s common sense. Women who have naked photos of themselves — or near-naked photos of themselves — out there are just asking for trouble. Do you really want photos of you like that circulating around? My advice, ladies, is to keep your clothes on when a camera is present. Those pictures can and will come back to haunt you. (Ask my wasband’s girlfriend about the ones she sent him that I got my hands on. I’m still wondering whether the playing cards were a hit with his poker friends. My friends sure got a kick out of them.)
  • Have cosmetic surgery. Again, it isn’t fear that holds me back from this one. For years it was the simple fact that I didn’t think I needed any. But as I age and gravity begins to take hold, I’m reconsidering it. It’s on my list but at a low priority. Need to get settled into my home first.

Now I’m not sure if British women — the group supposedly polled for the list — are more cowardly (for lack of a better term) than American women. I suspect they might be. I’m also not sure about the age of the women polled and would have to think that very old and very young women would be more cowardly than those of young enough to be “modern” and old enough to have conquered most of our fears.

But now it’s your turn. How many of these things have you done? What’s memorable about any of them?

And if you haven’t done something you really want to do, why not? Tell us what it is so we can talk you into it. Never let your gender hold you back!