Yet another reason to love the Girl Scouts.

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Check out this New York Times piece from yesterday about how the Girl Scouts have been recruiting Muslim girls in an effort to help them adjust to American culture without sacrificing their Muslim identity. At the same time, the piece itself was bothersome at some parts, for example:

She has discovered that the trademark green sash — with its American flag, troop number (3009) and colorful merit badges — reduces the number of glowering looks she draws from people otherwise bothered by her traditional Muslim dress.

Just slap an American label on her and she’ll be good to go! Sigh.

Join the Conversation

  • Spider Jerusalem

    I dunno…a few of my students are in Girl Scouts, and while it seems like they do some fun stuff, it doesn’t seem like they do anything too terribly useful that isn’t a horrible stereotype. I would be glad to be proved wrong, but so far my students’ troupe’s community service has involved knitting stuff for soldiers.

  • Spider Jerusalem

    I dunno…a few of my students are in Girl Scouts, and while it seems like they do some fun stuff, it doesn’t seem like they do anything too terribly useful that isn’t a horrible stereotype. I would be glad to be proved wrong, but so far my students’ troupe’s community service has involved knitting stuff for soldiers.

  • EG

    From what I know, Girl Scout activities vary greatly from troupe to troupe. I know that unlike their male counterparts, the Girl Scouts are open to both atheists and lesbian scouts and leaders. They have a number of badges in scientific and mechanical achievement. Their literature about maturation includes information on sexuality, eating disorders, and reproductive rights. They can be quite an important force, but it does depend on the particular troupe leader and where her strengths lie.

  • SouriezLaJoconde

    SpiderJerusalem- Everything that a troop does is decided by that particular troop. If they want to knit stuff for soldiers they can, but no one from the Girl Scouts tells them that’s exactly what they have to do to complete community service hours. In theory, everything should be decided by the girls themselves, although unfortunately some pretty controlling leaders don’t allow that.
    Girl Scouting is an incredible organization that allows girls to flourish and become more independent in a positive environment. One of their slogans has been “Where Girls Grow Strong”. It’s not all about camping and crafts; my troop hated camping, so we decided to stay in hotels in a trip to NYC instead of having camping trips. The point is that WE picked where we wanted to go, made the budget, and then sold tons of cookies to go there. And it was awesome.
    In terms of being useful, as an older Girl Scout you have to complete a Career Exploration component. In the 4th grade I remember learning how to change a tire, reupholster chairs, etc. But again, it all depends on what the girls want to do.
    I’m proud to be a lifetime Girl Scout. It’s had a significant effect on my life and is definitely one of the reasons why I’m a feminist.

  • http://secondinnocence.blogspot.com/ la pobre habladora

    “I’m proud to be a lifetime Girl Scout. It’s had a significant effect on my life and is definitely one of the reasons why I’m a feminist.”
    Awesome! In that case, go Girl Scouts. I remember liking it too – it really affirmed all my interests and made having hobbies feel like an accomplishment. I remember getting a badge for whale watching.

  • Cedar

    Thanks for the link! Minneapolis has become my adopted hometown, even though I moved away two years ago.
    I loved Girl Scouts, too. I grew up in a small conservative town, but my troop was surprisingly progressive. Like Souriez, I learned basic car and bicycle maintanence, how to fix a leaky faucet, and such things. When we got older, we also did a section on birth control. My family moved when I was 13, and my new troop was more conservative, and religious, and did mostly corny art projects. But I don’t think I’d be the person I am today had it not been for Girl Scouts.

  • http://nakedthoughts.wordpress.com nakedthoughts

    “Just slap an American label on her and she’ll be good to go! Sigh”
    I don’t think the article was being “bothersome”. I think it is accurately reporting that this girl is doing something because she gets a response from it that is positive, not that she SHOULD wear such a label.
    There are lots of people in the world that don’t like being looked at as freaks. Yes it would be nice if we could all ignore that outside pressure, but sometimes it’s nice to blend in, and have people be nice to you.
    I think it is a reasonable reaction, especially for a young person. Being a “normal” (ie white middle class ) girl is difficult enough. Growing up is challenging. There is pressure from peers, the media and sometimes even teachers, to look and act a certain way. Giving in on 1 count (slapping an american label on) so you can feel comfortable dressing how you want is a pretty good compromise.

  • sunburned counsel

    I hated being a scout- I had a crappy troop leader who was all about the stereotypes, but I have nothing but love for the national organisation. They run a program (at least in the midwest) in the schools called Project LOVE- which is a class by young women for young women in the schools that talks about everything from reproductive health to goal setting to self esteem and the right to say No. They were the only people who took young women, and realistic pregnancy prevention, seriously in the schools. Like I said, nothing but love.

  • thenakedcat

    I first joined the Girl Scouts in middle school, when my family was living in northern Utah. The area was about 70% Mormon, and while a great many of the Mormon boys participated in the Boy Scouts, the Mormon girls were generally in 4-H, not Girl Scouts.
    The reason for the disparity was that the Boy Scouts accepted sponsorship from the Mormon church and their values were conservative enough to align with the church’s. The Girl Scouts had refused formal religious sponsorship (although they strongly supported girls exploring and celebrating their personal religious heritage and beliefs) and were liberal in their views on diversity and gender roles.
    Our troop was small, but our leaders always encouraged us to make decisions for ourselves, to explore new activities, and to be strong in our own identities and ambitions. It was a very important haven for me, as a very, very young, queer atheist in the midst of a community that had no place for me. I am very glad to hear that Girl Scouts is carrying on with that kind of work, reaching out to girls struggling with a culture that does not accept them for who they are.

  • thenakedcat

    I first joined the Girl Scouts in middle school, when my family was living in northern Utah. The area was about 70% Mormon, and while a great many of the Mormon boys participated in the Boy Scouts, the Mormon girls were generally in 4-H, not Girl Scouts.
    The reason for the disparity was that the Boy Scouts accepted sponsorship from the Mormon church and their values were conservative enough to align with the church’s. The Girl Scouts had refused formal religious sponsorship (although they strongly supported girls exploring and celebrating their personal religious heritage and beliefs) and were liberal in their views on diversity and gender roles.
    Our troop was small, but our leaders always encouraged us to make decisions for ourselves, to explore new activities, and to be strong in our own identities and ambitions. It was a very important haven for me, as a very, very young, queer atheist in the midst of a community that had no place for me. I am very glad to hear that Girl Scouts is carrying on with that kind of work, reaching out to girls struggling with a culture that does not accept them for who they are.

  • surlygrad

    The girl scouts have been dead to me ever since they changed the cookies.

  • Wildberry

    I used to be in girl scouts. Whenever my troop ate together, we always had to say a grace. I am an atheist. And it wasn’t something where I could get away with just bowing my head. No, we had to sing a little song and do stupid hand motions. I tried to refuse to do it several times, but they wouldn’t let anyone start eating until I complied. The other girls in my troop basically said to get over it and just do it. I was bullied into praising a god that I don’t believe in. How’s that for tolerance?

  • EG

    That’s fucking appalling. And runs counter the national rules, as far as I know.

  • corydalus

    But will they ever find the growing-up tree?

  • corydalus

    But will they ever find the growing-up tree?

  • http://theonepercentclub.blogspot.com/ ily

    Proud to be a long-time girl scout as well. It definitely got me thinking about how to make the world a better place, from a very early age. A lot of kids don’t think it’s “cool”, which is probably one reason why GS is recruiting Muslim girls– they’ve always had trouble with retention. But, that’s a shame, because being in GS was definitely one of my fondest childhood memories.

  • http://theonepercentclub.blogspot.com/ ily

    Proud to be a long-time girl scout as well. It definitely got me thinking about how to make the world a better place, from a very early age. A lot of kids don’t think it’s “cool”, which is probably one reason why GS is recruiting Muslim girls– they’ve always had trouble with retention. But, that’s a shame, because being in GS was definitely one of my fondest childhood memories.

  • BabyPop

    It’s been a long time, but I loved girl scouts. I wish I’d stayed in it longer, in fact, but around 4th or 5th grade, it seemed like that’s what only little kids did. From what I remember, we did artsy/crafty stuff as well as community oriented independence building projects, camping, building things, sciency things, etc.
    Two anecdotes: I joined in K or Grade 1. I remember meeting up with my brother (9 years old) on the bus and telling him I was going to be a Brownie. I was SO EXCITED and got SO MAD at him when he said I wouldn’t be making/eating brownies, just that it was what the girls scouts were called for my age group.
    My second anecdote has to do with a summer day camp – we had a lot of stuff to do, it was really hot, and we’d been kind of working hard all week. So at the end of the week we just had a goof off day, and we sang a round of songs based on “He’s got the whole world in his hands.” The lyrics were changed and we were encouraged to make up our own silly lyrics. One of them was “We’ve got the loud-mouthed leaders in our hands,” and I thought that was pretty funny.
    I went to Catholic school, when fall came around, we had a big, fun mass and after mass was over, we were encouraged to sing the “Whole world in his hands.” So when the priest started asking people to make up their own verses, I piped up at the top of my lungs, “He’s got the loud-mouthed teachers in his hands.”
    The whole church burst out laughing, but after we exited back to our classrooms, I got sent to the principal’s office. :(

  • pull_rank

    The Girl Scouts are such an awesome organization. I was a Scout through high school, earned the Gold Award (which is the equivalent of Eagle Scout, except that no one knows what it is), and went on to be a leader for a few years. I know a lot of feminists who got their start through scouting. So buy some cookies! :)

  • squrl

    I think this song sums up what I learned in my 10 years in girl scouting. I learned it at girl scout camp, of course:
    (Sung to the tune of: She’ll be Coming around the Mountain)
    Can a woman fly an airplane?
    Yes she can, yes she can!
    Can a woman build a building?
    yes she can, yes she can!
    Can a woman fight a fire?
    Can a woman change a tire?
    Can a woman lead a choir?
    Yes she can, yes she can!
    Can a woman be a lawyer?
    Yes she can, yes she can!
    Can a woman fix an engine?
    Yes she can, yes she can!
    Can a woman be a drummer?
    Can a woman be a plumber?
    Can she play ball in the summer?
    Yes she can, Yes she can!
    Can a woman lead a nation?
    Can she run a TV station?
    Can she head a corporation?
    Yes she can, yes she can!
    Just you wait until we’re older,
    then you’ll see
    We’ll be women in tomorrow’s history!
    As we grow up through the years
    We’ll sing out loud and clear
    Can we start the process here?
    Yes we can, yes we can!

  • squrl

    I think this song sums up what I learned in my 10 years in girl scouting. I learned it at girl scout camp, of course:
    (Sung to the tune of: She’ll be Coming around the Mountain)
    Can a woman fly an airplane?
    Yes she can, yes she can!
    Can a woman build a building?
    yes she can, yes she can!
    Can a woman fight a fire?
    Can a woman change a tire?
    Can a woman lead a choir?
    Yes she can, yes she can!
    Can a woman be a lawyer?
    Yes she can, yes she can!
    Can a woman fix an engine?
    Yes she can, yes she can!
    Can a woman be a drummer?
    Can a woman be a plumber?
    Can she play ball in the summer?
    Yes she can, Yes she can!
    Can a woman lead a nation?
    Can she run a TV station?
    Can she head a corporation?
    Yes she can, yes she can!
    Just you wait until we’re older,
    then you’ll see
    We’ll be women in tomorrow’s history!
    As we grow up through the years
    We’ll sing out loud and clear
    Can we start the process here?
    Yes we can, yes we can!

  • EG

    OK, squrl, that brought tears to my eyes.

  • fatima

    as a muslim who is the daughter of immigrants…who grew up in the epitome of suburbia (98% white)..and who wore hijab for four years….
    i have to say this article made me cringe from start to finish. even the fucking title of the article is horrendous to me.
    i agree that young girls want to fit in. i have no animosity towards those girls…but when my sister and i wanted so badly to fit in, my parents didn’t say “yeah okay lets give you some american flags…annnd that should be it.”
    they asked us WHY we wanted to fit in, WHY we weren’t considered normal already? we were taught that it wasn’t US that had to change. it was our society that saw us as outcasts that needed reform.
    and i think thats really important to talk about. what is it about being a white person that we wanted? the privilege? because we were never going to get that anyways. that was hard to come to terms with and it was hard to talk about (i fought with my mom ALL the time about wanting to fit in)
    so i think its important that scout leaders should be addressing these issues. helping girls RESIST the temptations to “be like everyone else” and to “fit in”. not fitting in was the BEST thing that could have ever happened to me.
    assimilation sucks and you lose a part of yourself in the process. and all i got from this article is that its great and girls scouts are helping young girls be a part of it.

  • Mina

    “I don’t think the article was being ‘bothersome’. I think it is accurately reporting that this girl is doing something because she gets a response from it that is positive, not that she SHOULD wear such a label.
    “There are lots of people in the world that don’t like being looked at as freaks. Yes it would be nice if we could all ignore that outside pressure, but sometimes it’s nice to blend in, and have people be nice to you.”
    Right on!
    Besides, the logical conclusion of “I don’t like people who want other people to accept them” is only accepting people against their will (you know, liking people only if they *don’t* want other people including you to accept them). o_O
    “Growing up is challenging. There is pressure from peers, the media and sometimes even teachers, to look and act a certain way.”
    Often there’s also pressure from one’s own instincts to have friendships with some other human beings (and to learn social skills in order to do that).
    Yes, someone can have those instincts even if she or he grows up where there aren’t any perfectly unsuperficial people nearby with whom to practice social skills…
    “not fitting in was the BEST thing that could have ever happened to me.”
    …but by being a feminist who posts here in English you fit in with the rest of us in a whole bunch of ways. Hmm.
    Seems to me that sometimes fitting in is bad, sometimes fitting in is good, sometimes it’s neutral, and all three apply to not fitting in as well.
    “assimilation sucks and you lose a part of yourself in the process.”
    When I read the article I got the impression that they’re integrating instead of assimilating.

  • isfa

    Farheen Hakeem is an amazing person and a leader in the Twin Cities. I think she would be horrified to hear someone say that they think this troupe is about assimilation! If that is what the article was saying, then I think they got it wrong. What I read was one girl saying that she found relief in being able to temporarily feel like she fit in. I don’t see any need to judge that. There is a lot of suspicion against Somalis in this community. What Ms. Hakeem is doing is providing a safe space. She’s making a place for her troup members to feel like they belong and to be empowered. I have a feeling from hearing Ms. Hakeem speak many times when she was running for mayor that she is not about “assimilation.” Ms. Hakeem has a vision of the Twin Cities being a place where everyone belongs. And I have to tell you- the first time I met her was during a voting drive. She helped us register a lot of eligible voters and get them excited about the 2004 election. I don’t want to speak for her, but I’m guessing that her dream is to change the defintion of “American”- not to force her troup members to change their identities. She is a true progressive. I actually would love to see Feministing do a special interview with her. I am sure she would have a lot to say on the topic of feminism!

  • fatima

    “…but by being a feminist who posts here in English you fit in with the rest of us in a whole bunch of ways. Hmm.”
    speaking english is not a matter of assimilation for me because I WAS BORN HERE. it was for my parents, because they were forced to learn english in pakistan which was colonized by the british.
    and isfa – i am responding to the article and what it told me. i’m sure ms hakeem is a great person but i’m just going off the article. and as i clearly stated in my post, i have no judgment for the girls who feel like they want to fit in.
    i knew when i wrote that post that people would have issues with it. but perhaps we all need to think about what we are teaching these young girls if we are encouraging them to “fit in”.

  • fatima

    “…but by being a feminist who posts here in English you fit in with the rest of us in a whole bunch of ways. Hmm.”
    speaking english is not a matter of assimilation for me because I WAS BORN HERE. it was for my parents, because they were forced to learn english in pakistan which was colonized by the british.
    and isfa – i am responding to the article and what it told me. i’m sure ms hakeem is a great person but i’m just going off the article. and as i clearly stated in my post, i have no judgment for the girls who feel like they want to fit in.
    i knew when i wrote that post that people would have issues with it. but perhaps we all need to think about what we are teaching these young girls if we are encouraging them to “fit in”.

  • fatima

    “…but by being a feminist who posts here in English you fit in with the rest of us in a whole bunch of ways. Hmm.”
    speaking english is not a matter of assimilation for me because I WAS BORN HERE. it was for my parents, because they were forced to learn english in pakistan which was colonized by the british.
    and isfa – i am responding to the article and what it told me. i’m sure ms hakeem is a great person but i’m just going off the article. and as i clearly stated in my post, i have no judgment for the girls who feel like they want to fit in.
    i knew when i wrote that post that people would have issues with it. but perhaps we all need to think about what we are teaching these young girls if we are encouraging them to “fit in”.

  • fatima

    “…but by being a feminist who posts here in English you fit in with the rest of us in a whole bunch of ways. Hmm.”
    speaking english is not a matter of assimilation for me because I WAS BORN HERE. it was for my parents, because they were forced to learn english in pakistan which was colonized by the british.
    and isfa – i am responding to the article and what it told me. i’m sure ms hakeem is a great person but i’m just going off the article. and as i clearly stated in my post, i have no judgment for the girls who feel like they want to fit in.
    i knew when i wrote that post that people would have issues with it. but perhaps we all need to think about what we are teaching these young girls if we are encouraging them to “fit in”.

  • Mina

    “speaking english is not a matter of assimilation for me because I WAS BORN HERE.”
    Yeah, but posting in English here is still fitting in a lot more than posting here in some other language (even if English is your only language and you’d need http://www.worldlingo.com/en/products_services/worldlingo_translator.html or whatever to post here in something else). So if fitting in is a bad thing…
    “but perhaps we all need to think about what we are teaching these young girls if we are encouraging them to ‘fit in’.”
    Good point. We need to think about what we are teaching kids both when we encourage them to “fit in” and when we encourage them to “not fit in.” *Both* of those, taken too far, can go have bad results. For one example, teen girls with the “I’m only 100 pounds, I’m too fat for anyone to ever like me, I have to eat way less!!!” attitude. For another example, teen boys with the “I don’t care what anyone else thinks, how dare she not care enough what I think to let me fuck her!!!” attitude.

  • EG

    I don’t think there’s anything inherently bad about “fitting in.” It’s a basic human need, to have a peer group, to find communities, to bond with others over shared interests and excitements. The problems come when people are forced to sacrifice major pieces of themselves in order to achieve that. But the very fact that we are willing, as a species, to sacrifice so much in order to make those bonds is one of the strongest indications that it is a powerful, basic need.
    I read this article, and it didn’t seem to me that the girls were having to sacrifice, but rather that they were being given the opportunity to add on. I could be mistaken, of course.

  • Mina

    “I don’t think there’s anything inherently bad about ‘fitting in.'”
    Besides, what if there was something inherently bad about it?
    Would we all need to be assholes to each other, the better to not fit in?
    Would the antifeminist trolls inherently be the best participants on Feministing?
    BTW, I’m also reminded of http://dieselsweeties.com/archive.php?s=1365 now.

  • mostuniquename

    it’s not about fitting in, but having a respect for the culture of the country you are being in. if you were to go to a muslim country, would you be arrogant to expect that you don’t have to change anything about yourself to ‘fit in’ there?

  • http://cheerstoambiguity.blogspot.com Jessica

    Girl Scouts taught me many things. I could go on for awhile, but I’ll stop right there.
    One of the most valuable lessons I learned was to honor myself and my decisions in a culture, society, and world that could look down on both.
    When you’re 11, that’s an incredibly powerful thing to understand.
    We all have to survive in environments where our identities are challenged.
    Girl Scouts prepared me well for that.
    I don’t think this article is about body glitter or sashes (and I did both, for the record).
    Those things turn into business suits or heels or lab jackets or rock star attire or whatever drag we put ourselves into to play the role we desire.
    This is about a group of girls who are getting a chance to hold their heads up and be who they are.
    I would encourage it.
    And squrl, I love that song.

  • http://cheerstoambiguity.blogspot.com Jessica

    Girl Scouts taught me many things. I could go on for awhile, but I’ll stop right there.
    One of the most valuable lessons I learned was to honor myself and my decisions in a culture, society, and world that could look down on both.
    When you’re 11, that’s an incredibly powerful thing to understand.
    We all have to survive in environments where our identities are challenged.
    Girl Scouts prepared me well for that.
    I don’t think this article is about body glitter or sashes (and I did both, for the record).
    Those things turn into business suits or heels or lab jackets or rock star attire or whatever drag we put ourselves into to play the role we desire.
    This is about a group of girls who are getting a chance to hold their heads up and be who they are.
    I would encourage it.
    And squrl, I love that song.

  • http://www.elizabethkateswitaj.net ekswitaj

    Mina, did you seriously tell Fatima that she is too well assimilated to take issue with assimilation? That seems like a very easy way to silence someone without actually having to engage with what they say. Posting in English to an English-language board is generally done for the purpose of communicating rather than for the purpose of fitting in.
    When I was teaching English to Polish immigrants in New York, they wanted to know why I didn’t speak any Polish (beyond a few very basic things I’d picked up from my relatives) despite my very Polish last name. Was it wrong of me to say that I wished my father hadn’t felt so much pressure to assimilate that, though he had grown up in a bilingual neighborhood and attended bilingual (private) schools, he never spoke a word of Polish to me?

  • Mina

    “Mina, did you seriously tell Fatima that she is too well assimilated to take issue with assimilation?”
    I seriously wanted to point out that fitting in is not always a bad thing. ;)
    “Posting in English to an English-language board is generally done for the purpose of communicating rather than for the purpose of fitting in.”
    Yeah, but it also has the side effect of fitting in more than posting in another language would. *If* fitting in = bad, *then* it’s worse to post here in English than in, say, machine-translated Swedish.
    “Was it wrong of me to say that I wished my father hadn’t felt so much pressure to assimilate that, though he had grown up in a bilingual neighborhood and attended bilingual (private) schools, he never spoke a word of Polish to me?”
    No, it’s not wrong of you at all!

  • http://furysignifyingnothing.blogspot.com/ YEinDE

    There are lots of people in the world that don’t like being looked at as freaks. Yes it would be nice if we could all ignore that outside pressure, but sometimes it’s nice to blend in, and have people be nice to you.
    Nonsense. This is privileged nonsense.
    The “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” attitude is sickening. You think that people attempt to “blend in” or pass because it’s “nice”? You do it to survive. Or to escape daily abuse. Or to avoid violence. Or because you are sick and tired of having to be on the defensive all of the time. Or because you have been told over and over again that the only way to be accepted is to give in and become one of them. It is not necessarily because people want to befriend their tormentors because they are lacking in friends (btw, the last insult I heard directed at my friends wasn’t “freak,” it was “headscarf-wearing-slut” and that was right before they were spit upon).
    And what makes me so irate with this website is that every time someone comes in with their personal experience (especially as a WOC or Muslim), a small, but loud group of commenters attempt to SILENCE them. Fatima gives her experience and is given a pat on the head.
    I seriously wanted to point out that fitting in is not always a bad thing. ;)
    Seriously? Someone describes their experience, and you tell them that the phenomenon that they experienced doesn’t always have to be bad? How about you LISTEN? She did not have a good experience. How about thinking about why? Or we could just dismiss it instead because it is easier to accept hatred and intolerance than it is to question it or fight it.

  • Mina

    “The ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’ attitude is sickening.”
    How much did you sicken yourself when you joined us instead of beating us by posting your very good points about survival and escaping daily abuse or violence?
    “You do it to survive. Or to escape daily abuse. Or to avoid violence. Or because you are sick and tired of having to be on the defensive all of the time.”
    And/or because you’re sick and tired of being lonely and friendless all the time. That’s why, when I was 19, I resumed trying to learn more social skills and stopped patting myself on the back for not caring what anyone else thought.
    “Seriously? Someone describes their experience, and you tell them that the phenomenon that they experienced doesn’t always have to be bad?”
    Fatima said “not fitting in was the BEST thing that could have ever happened to me,” and I reminded her that she actually was fitting in when she posted that here.
    “How about you LISTEN?”
    What’s wrong with *thinking* about a statement after I listen to it, instead of merely going “ditto!”?
    “She did not have a good experience. How about thinking about why?”
    I did think about why. I also thought about the fact that not all cases of fitting in are equally bad, and the fact that many other cases of fitting in are better than the example she mentioned.
    p.s. Did you know that breathing oxygen is, among other things, fitting in with other people who breathe oxygen too?

  • johanna

    I just want to echo everything isfa wrote about Farheen Hakeem. (I voted for her when she ran for mayor of Minneapolis.) Ms. Hakeem really sledgehammers a LOT of stereotypes people have about Muslim women, especially those who wear the hijab. And she would have kicked ass as mayor.
    Personally, I think the issue is not with the girls wanting to “fit in” (i.e.: not be given the hairy eyeball by fellow passengers on the light rail), but with the community at large who is still suspicious/judging of someone who looks different than they do. It shows how much work is still to be done in the MSP area to become ever more welcoming of diverse communities.
    I also want to give props to the Girl Scout movement in general for being the place that I first began to develop a feminist consciousness and explore interests beyond stereotypical “girl” activities.

  • EG

    The debate is not about whether or not Fatima’s experiences were bad. Obviously they were, or she wouldn’t be saying so. The debate is about whether or not the Girl Scout troops being described in this article can be usefully aligned with her experiences. Judging from the article, I don’t think they can. Fatima describes her experiences as being ones where she was pressured to give up things essential to her sense of self, family, culture, religion, etc. in order to purchase a sense of belonging. But that’s not what’s happening here. Here you have Muslim girls coming together to establish predominantly Muslim troops. You have badges for excelling in Muslim achievements (memorizing Koran verses). You have a variety of opinions among the parents, just like in any other community. What you have is American Muslim girls adopting an American tradition/aspect of American culture, infusing it with their own values and interests, and becoming part of a national group/tradition that includes girls of all races, religions, and backgrounds. I’ve read the article closely, and I don’t see any indication that the girls are being asked or pressured to sacrifice any aspect of themselves. Rather, they are enriching the Girl Scout tradition by bringing their culture to it, and in return, they are finding a sense of belonging in a mainstream American group, a sense that they are often denied because of the very cultural practices that the Girl Scouts are welcoming.
    It’s not an argument about Fatima’s experiences; it’s an argument about whether her experiences reflect what’s happening here.

  • http://dont-read.blogspot.com Malaika924

    p.s. Did you know that breathing oxygen is, among other things, fitting in with other people who breathe oxygen too?
    Wow. Way to patronize.
    Oh and by the way: Just as YEinDE said, you do it to survive not to fit in.

  • Mina

    BTW, I just saw another news article on Girl Scouting:
    http://www.boston.com/news/odd/articles/2007/12/02/girl_scout_receives_award_69_years_late/
    GRAND CHUTE, Wis.—A Girl Scout who failed to receive a Golden Eaglet Award because she woke up with the mumps finally got the accolade — 69 years later.
    Faith Iames Schremp, 86, joined Girl Scouts in 1938 and earned all the proficiency badges needed to win the award.
    But the morning Schremp, of Wausau, was to leave for Girl Scout Camp, she woke up with the mumps. Attending camp was the final rite of passage in earning the award.
    Schremp said she was heartbroken.
    That is until Fran Raley, CEO of the Girl Scouts of the Fox River Area, presented Schremp with her long-deserved award Saturday during the Girl Scouts’ 2007 Holiday Folk Fair.
    Receiving the Golden Eaglet Award, the predecessor to the Gold Award, is the highest achievement in Girl Scouting.
    Daughter-in-law Dee Schremp, of Appleton, a former Girl Scout leader, knew of the pins importance to Schremp. She worked with Raley to track down an Eaglet pin at Girl Scouts of the USA without success. They also were outbid on eBay for a discontinued pin, which fetched $800.
    However, Raley remembered there was a pin embedded on an art project near the entryway to the scouting office.
    An artist extracted the pin and had it repaired at a jewelry shop.
    (This version CORRECTS Corrects to Raley, sted Riley thruout.)

  • Mina

    “‘p.s. Did you know that breathing oxygen is, among other things, fitting in with other people who breathe oxygen too?’
    “Wow. Way to patronize.”
    I’ve noticed that people who claim stuff in the “don’t care what anyone else thinks!” vein get upset when I don’t care what they think. Hmm.
    “Oh and by the way: Just as YEinDE said, you do it to survive not to fit in.”
    Yeah. That’s covered by the “among other things” part of the sentence you quoted. The rest of us also do it to survive too, so one can’t help but fit in with us when one does it to survive. Therefore, if one actually does think fitting in makes something bad…

  • http://dont-read.blogspot.com Malaika924

    Mina:
    Here’s what you don’t seem to get:
    “Fitting in” means, for People of Color, fitting in with White culture. In this country, White has always been seen as the norm. So, if fitting in means to conform to what White society thinks we should be, then yeah, it sucks.

  • Mina

    “Mina:
    “Here’s what you don’t seem to get:
    “‘Fitting in’ means, for People of Color, fitting in with White culture.”
    Then excuse me for assuming that Fatima meant to say the words she actually said in the post.
    I mean, I’m not impressed or telepathic when my mother says something but turns out to have meant something else. So, why should I be impressed or telepathic when anyone else supposedly does it? ;)

  • http://dont-read.blogspot.com Malaika924

    Then excuse me for assuming that Fatima meant to say the words she actually said in the post.
    Did you actually read what she wrote? Doubtful.

    …when my sister and i wanted so badly to fit in, my parents didn’t say “yeah okay lets give you some american flags…annnd that should be it.”
    they asked us WHY we wanted to fit in, WHY we weren’t considered normal already? we were taught that it wasn’t US that had to change. it was our society that saw us as outcasts that needed reform.
    and i think thats really important to talk about. what is it about being a white person that we wanted? the privilege? because we were never going to get that anyways.

    She was speaking “as a muslim who is the daughter of immigrants…who grew up in the epitome of suburbia (98% white)..and who wore hijab for four years.” As a woman whose outlook and experiences are vastly different from “the norm”. (OMG! Whodathunkit?) Instead of acknowledging her experiences as real and unique, you call her a hypocrite – in so many words- because “but by being a feminist who posts here in English you fit in with the rest of us in a whole bunch of ways”.
    WTF?!
    You automatically assume that English is her second language even though she stated that *she was born here*. Then you try and backtrack with the lame, “but posting in English here is still fitting in a lot more than posting here in some other language”.
    Why the fuck would she post in another language on an English-language board, especially if English is her first language?
    You misread her posts, disregarded her opinions and feelings as a Muslim woman and as a Woman of Color, and you’re being patronizing towards her because, apparently, she’s “One Of Us” whether she likes it or not.
    It’s not about telepathy; it’s about empathy.
    Get some. ;)

  • Mina

    “She was speaking ‘as a muslim who is the daughter of immigrants…who grew up in the epitome of suburbia (98% white)..and who wore hijab for four years.’ As a woman whose outlook and experiences are vastly different from ‘the norm’. (OMG! Whodathunkit?)”
    Yeah, and I’ve read many other posts on Feministing from other women whose outlooks and experiences are also vastly different from “the norm.”
    As for Fatima’s post, I also read the “not fitting in was the BEST thing that could have ever happened to me” part she wrote.
    “You automatically assume that English is her second language even though she stated that *she was born here*”
    I didn’t assume that. I also didn’t say anything about whether or not English was her first or second language.
    “Then you try and backtrack with the lame, ‘but posting in English here is still fitting in a lot more than posting here in some other language’.”
    That’s not a backtrack, that’s part of my original point. It’s also not lame, it’s just true.
    “Why the fuck would she post in another language on an English-language board, especially if English is her first language?”
    In order to avoid fitting in, that’s why. ;)
    “It’s not about telepathy; it’s about empathy.
    “Get some. ;)”
    OK, so if assuming you meant to say what you just said here isn’t empathetic enough, how am I supposed to decode it and figure out what you did mean to say?
    For starters, I’ll guess that the dictionary definition of “empathy” isn’t the one meant here but is the Star Trek definition also off-limits…?

  • http://dont-read.blogspot.com Malaika924

    Yeah, and I’ve read many other posts on Feministing from other women whose outlooks and experiences are also vastly different from “the norm.”
    Good for you.
    I didn’t assume that. I also didn’t say anything about whether or not English was her first or second language.
    Then why bring it up in the first place? If she had said that she was White and could trace her heritage back to the Mayflower, would you have asked the same thing? I think not.
    OK, so if assuming you meant to say what you just said here isn’t empathetic enough, how am I supposed to decode it and figure out what you did mean to say?
    There’s nothing to “decode” because not only is she speaking from the viewpoint of a Muslim woman, she’s also speaking as a human being. Yet, you still fail to recognize her own experience as true in her eyes because it doesn’t meld with your White (read: right) views.

  • mostuniquename

    “Personally, I think the issue is not with the girls wanting to “fit in” (i.e.: not be given the hairy eyeball by fellow passengers on the light rail), but with the community at large who is still suspicious/judging of someone who looks different than they do. It shows how much work is still to be done in the MSP area to become ever more welcoming of diverse communities.”
    Once again, it just seems kind of ridiculous to harp on the united states when there are so many places in the world where you would be discriminated the hell out of if you don’t fit in with the local culture. And you know what, it’s ok, every culture wants to remain somewhat homogeneous to retain a sense of cultural identity, united states is no different, and I personally think we are way more open minded about it than other cultures (and yes, I am a foreigner, with an accent, living in the us)
    “Here’s what you don’t seem to get:
    “Fitting in” means, for People of Color, fitting in with White culture. In this country, White has always been seen as the norm. So, if fitting in means to conform to what White society thinks we should be, then yeah, it sucks.”
    What the hell?
    Why is it White for a foreign student to dress in a similar way as her classmates? This is not making any sense.
    No group or race has a monopoly on this. A white kid growing up in a 98% black school will be forced to dress and talk a certain way in order to fit in. Same with a white immigrant in a country with a prodominantly black population.
    Sometimes it just seems like a lot of people here just haven’t been anywhere outside their communities.