In kindergarten, I was placed in a different school because of an overcrowding issue. At the time, I’m sure it must have felt like my world was collapsing in on itself — to be honest, I don’t remember much of it. But I do remember the first friend I made. My mom had forced me to join the local Girl Scout troop because she thought it would help me meet people at my new school. I told her I would hate it and that I did not need new friends — I would be going back to my real school in a couple years anyways. But she signed me up anyways and I immediately fell in love with the bond our small, young group had.
I stayed in the troop as people switched in and out, and only a few of us who had joined back in kindergarten remained. I stayed even when I moved back to the school in my district, despite the fact that I now went to a different school than all the other girls. It didn’t matter to me. We were bonded by our love for each other and the values we shared — honesty, responsibility, integrity and compassion — those same values that pushed us all to become Girl Scouts and that we were taught to uphold.
We were always proud of being Girl Scouts. I wore the ever-changing grade-level titles like a badge of honor, nestled between the rows of patches my mom carefully hot-glued onto my ratty vest. I was always proud of being a Girl Scout — until three weeks ago.
“Congratulations Amy Coney Barrett on becoming the fifth woman appointed to the Supreme Court since its inception in 1789,” read a tweet from the official Girl Scouts twitter page on Oct. 28. The tweet was accompanied by an image of Barrett alongside Sandra Day O’Connor, Sonia Sotamayor, Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with the words “Female Supreme Court Justices” emblazoned across the top.
The tweet was rightfully met with enormous backlash, prompting the Girl Scouts to hastily delete the message. They instead wrote, “Earlier today, we shared a post highlighting the five women who have been appointed to the Supreme Court. It was quickly viewed as a political and partisan statement which was not our intent and we have removed the post. Girl Scouts of the USA is a nonpolitical, nonpartisan organization. We are neither red nor blue, but Girl Scout GREEN. We are here to lift up girls and women.”
Too many people believe the lie that a woman in power is somehow synonymous with women’s empowerment. It is a matter of public record that Amy Coney Barrett opposes the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade — she does not stand for lifting up girls and women, and neither will the policies she will attempt to push through the court. Portraying her on equal footing with trailblazing women who dedicated their lives to opening doors for others is not only a slap in the face to those trailblazing idols of American history, but also the very epitome of hypocrisy, seeing as her beliefs and ideologies mean she will slam those very doors shut behind her. Especially given the context of Barrett’s nomination — in direct defiance of her predecessor and beloved cultural icon Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dying wish and a complete about-face from the conservative narrative in 2016 — putting her in the same frame as Ginsburg is at best tone-deaf and, at worst, ignorance bordering on malevolence. Amy Coney Barrett represents an active threat to the state of women’s rights and social justice across the country, and presenting her as anything but that is irresponsible, incorrect and immoral.
The Girl Scouts’ following tweets, perhaps meant as an apology and an attempt to explain their intent, came off more as a hyper-defensive jab at their critics for “politicizing” matters. There is no way to discuss politics without being political. The basic human rights of half the population hang in the balance — and the poorest, weakest, most oppressed of us will have to bear the brunt of the impending crisis. There is no space or time for organizations to cherry-pick when they want to stand beside the same people they claim to represent and when they want to duck their heads behind nonpolitical, nonpartisan veils.
There was a time in history when even the notion of an organization dedicated to organizing and empowering young girls would be a radically political idea. Standing up against that narrow-minded, suffocating mentality is the very fabric of the Girl Scouts that I joined, and the Girl Scouts I was proud to be a part of. The organization that chose to disrespect a legendary feminist figure and celebrate her backward-looking replacement, then failed to acknowledge the harmful nature of their divisive and insulting stance — that is a group I can only say I am ashamed of.
So much of my childhood was influenced by the things I learned in my troop meetings, surrounded by people I looked up to. I desperately hope the Girl Scouts will rethink the enormous influence they have on children, and attempt to understand how painful their words were to those who, like me, used to laud them as the very paragon of feminist ideals and equality.