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For most people, when they think of the Girl Scouts of America, they think of cookies. Cookie sales are the most universally acknowledged part of Girl Scout culture. To be fair, those cookies are dangerously good. In fact, they have inspired the names of several popular strains of cannabis as well. Young entrepreneur Girl Scouts have previously made the news for selling cookies in front of dispensaries.
But today we aren’t here to talk about the munchies. Instead, we’re here to talk about how the Girl Scouts of America is stepping up and encouraging responsible, ethical discussion of the realities of sexual assault, especially for teenagers.
If you have avoided all social media and standard news for the last few weeks, you may not yet know that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual assault. Initially, only one woman came forward. As of today, at least three women have stepped up to decry Kavanaugh ‘s predatory and frightening behaviors in high school. According to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the first woman to speak out against Kavanaugh, Kavanaugh attempted to rape her at a party, ripping off her clothing and groping her, while turning up music to cover the sounds of her protests.
Another woman then came forward with the claim that Kavanaugh had exposed himself to her during a drinking game at a high school party. When she attempted to push him away, she inadvertently touched his genitals, which upset and disturbed her.
Finally, in a sworn statement that will chill many to the bone, a third woman has spoken up about habitual attempts by Kavanagh and one of his close friends to get girls incredibly drunk or drugged them in order to facilitate group sexual assault on a single victim.
With so many horrifying stories, it is likely more women will come forward soon. Even if none do, these three tales have a similar theme to them. So too, do the protests coming from politicians who object to women raising concerns about his eligibility for a lifelong role on the Supreme Court after these kinds of degenerate acts in high school.
Some claim that if Kavanaugh can be attacked this way, any man in politics is vulnerable. The unattributed quote, theoretically from a lawyer, worries that “If somebody can be brought down by accusations like this, then you, me, every man certainly should be worried.”
Of course, the rational way to respond would be that anyone who has assaulted or attempted to assault someone deserves to be questioned and held accountable for those actions, regardless of their age when they committed those acts.
Another, very disturbing response to these allegations is the idea that men should not be held accountable for poor behavior in high school. Unfortunately, that seems to be a very pervasive attitude. Acts of sexual violence and aggression in high school may not be indicative of continuing sexual violence into adulthood. However, they do make it clear that the individual in question had little regard for the population they targetted. Even if they have learned to suppress their predatory behaviors, the fact that they ever indulged in such behaviors should be a red flag against allowing anyone like that into a position of trust.
The Girl Scouts of America won’t let these bullshit claims that teenage sexual assault doesn’t matter stand. They have posted a blog that shouldn’t be provocative, but somehow is. Basically, they are asking anyone who reads their post to push back against claims that teenage sexual violence doesn’t matter, while highlighting how those claims reinforce rape culture.
“Specifically, these types of dismissals can make girls and women even less likely to report sexual assault, more likely to blame themselves, and keep them from getting the help they need to recover. Meanwhile, this messaging is damaging to boys because it’s unfairly stereotyping them all as toxic, misogynistic, and violent—and essentially giving them a free pass to engage in these horrific acts.”
Sexual assault and rape are terrible crimes, especially when the victim is at a young and impressionable age. A teenage victim of sexual violence may have that one experience change them for the rest of their lives. It may impact their ability to form healthy relationships and could contribute to mental health conditions that increase the risk for addiction and premature death.
This powerful blog posts asks everyone to speak up when they hear someone dismissing sexual violence. It also calls for adults who care for girls to talk with them about their right to bodily autonomy and unhealthy cultural attitudes.
The Girl Scouts of America shouldn’t have to be a voice for victims of sexual abuse, but some people in positions of power have all but openly said that what happens in high school should stay in high school. Empowering young women now means reminding them and the people who care for them that their experiences with their peers matter. What hapens in middle school or high school can affect a person for years.
Addressing this complex issue directly is a brave and powerful move, one that could have positive consequences for people all over. If the cookies enough weren’t a reason to support Girl Scouts, this empowering approach to shifting cultural conversations should be.
For previous Ladybud articles that discuss sexual assault, click here.
Photo Credit: Bureau of Reclaimation via Flickr under CC BY-SA 2.0