American Girls and Girl Scouts

I would like to examine how the concept of “girlhood,” as displayed in Kirsten’s Story, has been translated into our modern culture and displayed in things, such as Girl Scouts or “Brownies,” and has still maintained many of the characteristics and values held during Kirsten’s time. For example, Kirsten displays traditional characteristics of “girlhood” through her playing with her dolls, just as her two cousins do. The girls act out conventional female roles of the time with their dolls, such as playing school or setting up a cross to make it look like the dolls were going to church. Their “American girlhood” involved meeting expectations of conformity and order. Today, “Girlhood” involves a similar subliminal imposition of conformity and pressure to meet society’s expectations, and is exemplified in things such as the modern day “Girl Scouts.” In the Girl Scouts, girls earned badges and rewards for completing tasks such as cooking, painting, basket making, various arts and crafts projects, and doing small good deeds such as recycling for a week. Girl Scouts is a right of passage for many young girls in America today and it influences the values and personality they adopt. These ideals align with “homemaker” tasks, or conventional female roles of the time. This theme mirrored in Kirsten’s Story set in the 19th century shows how for a long time, in America, girlhood is used as a tool of sorts to teach young girls what is expected of them and where their place is in society.

4 thoughts on “American Girls and Girl Scouts”

  1. This is a topic I had never really thought about, even having a sister who was a Girl Scout. Even though I do not know too much about the specific roles and activities as a Girl Scout, it is important more people talk about Girl Scouts and the importance of changing what may be old habits or traditions.

  2. I think it is really interesting how you connected girlhood to girl scouts. Being a Girl Scout was such a major part of so many girls’ lives. Even if girls were not super involved in every single aspect of the program, its tasks definitely aligned with basic duties known to girls. Such programs like Girl Scouts give young girls the opportunity to practice what it is like to live a more adult life as well as meeting other girls and creating that bond.

  3. I find it interesting how girl scouts have been such a known factor in American society and girlhood. Growing up at times “girl scout” was even used as an adjective for me in my life. I grew up in the country side of town and would sadly sometimes demean the term of “Girl Scout” to describe how I didn’t really make cookies or do arts and crafts for badges. In some way I feel a Girl Scout is a modern day example for young girls to look up too and model to be a “perfect girl.”

  4. This was a very interesting post. As a former Girl Scout, I remember doing these exact badges, as you mentioned. Growing up with two brothers who were in Boy Scouts, I was always wishing I could do what they did (ex. fishing, canoeing, camping in tents, building fires, etc.) Even at a young age, I noticed that the things I got to do were less adventurous. Looking back now, I have realized that this was a way of keeping gender roles separated. You helped touch on this idea and it is exactly what I experienced. This was a great and thought-provoking post.

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