May 22, 2013

The BSA, Equal Rights, and Rape Culture- End of the Month Controversy

I found this image online, but can't locate a credit. My thanks to the artist.
I have three daughters. My husband wasn't in scouting as a kid. It's possible that someday I might have a son, but let's face it, I'm not likely to have much to do directly with the Boy Scouts of America.

But the anti-gay policies of the BSA do matter to us as a family.

You see, the Boy Scouts are voting on whether or not to allow gay children to continue scouting, openly. There have been gay boy scouts since time immemorial. A friend of mine was one of them. And it certainly doesn't change their dedication, their morals.

The Boy Scouts are generally an organization that does a lot of good. When I hear that somebody is an Eagle Scout, I am impressed. Genuinely. That is no simple task, and it speaks volumes of a person's character.

But what happens when a gay Boy Scout becomes a gay Eagle Scout? He'll no doubt want to give back to his community. That's what Eagle Scouts do. And one way to do that is by leading a troop.

However, if the BSA has it's way, the ban on gay scout leaders will continue.

So what is that really about?

It's really about rape culture. About my daughters.

You see, as a society, we tend to put all of the emphasis of sexual responsibility onto girls and women. We blame them for being assaulted, for wearing short skirts, for being alone in public, for joining the military, for having a few drinks, for letting their boyfriends into their apartments, for walking the streets at night.

What we're saying to them is, "Men are animals who cannot control themselves. They are bad, and you must protect yourselves against them. If YOU are not careful, a man will rape you. And then it will be your fault." That's what we tell young women, what I was told when I was younger. What I learned first hand.

And what the BSA is saying by banning gay leaders is, "Men are animals who cannot control themselves. They are bad, and if they are gay then boys must protect themselves against them. If we do not keep gay men away from our sons, they will rape them. And then it will be our fault."

In reality, this isn't an anti-woman message. This isn't an anti-gay message.

This is an anti-man message.

This is a set of lessons that men are bad, they can't help it, it's what they do. That, oh well, maybe they'll hurt somebody. How is that their fault? It's their nature!

It's the same story we heard in Steubenville, when those poor, poor boys had their lives ruined by that awful girl who pressed charges against them after SHE had the audacity to drink among friends and expect that nobody would treat her body as an object for their use and amusement.

It's the same story we hear year after year in the military, about some awful bitch who ruined her commanding officer's career by claiming that he abused his power of authority when you know she wanted it.

If you are not familiar with the movement of Eagle Scouts returning their medals
in protest of this bigotry, definitely check out this collection of stories.
These stories are lies. We all know they're lies. But if we tell those stories, we have a problem that's easier to solve. When we tell those stories, the problem is that some people are asking for it, and we can keep them from harm's way.

That's an easier problem to solve than an entire culture than essentially gives men carte blanche to force themselves sexually on others, and then throws up it's shoulders and says, "Boys will be boys."

I believe that men are fundamentally better than that. I believe that they have control over their actions, over their urges. I believe that men can want to have sex with something- a woman, a man, a tail pipe or vacuum cleaner or horse or ANYTHING- and not have sex with it.

And if men are fundamentally bad, if there really is no hope for them, if we really must constantly protect ourselves from them at every turn, if every human being must live in fear of being violated by a man who has been granted any opportunity, then the Boy Scouts of America ought to disband. Putting that many dangerous individuals together can't be a good idea.

By that logic, a boy scout troop is a rape gang in waiting.

But if that's not true, if men have the capacity to control their actions, than the BSA can and should remain. And if the Boy Scouts believe it is their duty to help others, doesn't that include others who are gay? Shouldn't gay men have he same values? If the BSA pledges to remain mentally awake, doesn't that mean to open their minds to the possibility that they could have made a mistake? If they swear to remain morally straight... doesn't that mean not to judge, not to discriminate, not to condemn?

So why do I, as a mother of girls, care about this?

I care because when an organization as large as public as the Boy Scouts of America tell them that men are bad, they will take that lesson to heart.

When an organization like the BSA implies so strongly that women should fear men, they will.

Any maybe they should. But not because of this. Not because men are animals, incapable of self control.

Instead they should fear mankind, its incomprehensible desire to "otherize," to discriminate and separate. They should fear the animal nature inside of all people to condem others for imagined crimes, for differences that mean little or nothing. They should fear men who would use differences to advance some agenda, some policy of oppression and hatred.

Not for those differences in and of themselves.

I care because if we stop acting as though gay men are all predators, maybe we will be a step closer to acting as though all women aren't potential victims.

Maybe we'll be one step closer to ensuring that my daughters will grow up safer than I did.


  1. I hear what you are saying. A gay friend once asked me, "Why do people who think that no-one (of the opposite sex) would ever 'want' them, assume that anyone who is of their gender, and homosexual, must be lusting after them?"

  2. Very well written! I am the only girl in a family of 8 children. I was raised with the boys, not to be a little princess. That being said, I did learn early on that the world was safer for my brothers than it was for me.



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