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For thinking this was very sexist, and for interrupting a meeting to point it out?

(35 Posts)
TangoPurple Tue 20-Nov-12 16:37:40

I'm a trainee Girl Guide leader, and was at a division meeting a few evenings ago.

It came up about volunteers, and how to distinguish between Leader and Young Leader. Anyway, the definition of each term specified FEMALE - between the ages of 18-65 (or something like that).

So I raised my hand and interrupted the speaker, asking if a male could ever be a Brownie/Guide leader. The room was full of ten other women, and they all looked at me like I was an alien!

The speaker was a bit flustered, saying she's not entirely sure as a man has never volunteered and she'd have to look it up properly. I then asked if women were allowed to volunteer to be Boys' Brigade/Scout/Beavers leaders, and she said yes, of course. I pointed out that I found this quite sexist and unfair.

But it started a little mini convo where one of the women said, 'Let's be serious, would you send your little girl to brownies if a man was in charge?' I was so shocked, I actually burst out laughing. I said that my dd used to go to a male childminder and his wife when she was younger, and I'd actually choose a Brownies group with male leader over a female if one existed. (They never asked my reasons, but here they are in case you're interested: I think it's important for dd to see males in 'typical female roles' and vice versa; She has no father figure/male teachers at school so I think it would be good for her to be around a male in an authoritive position).

I'm just so shocked by this. Does anyone actually know the rules regarding males running Guides/Brownies, as I don't think i can wait 'til next week to find out from my commisioner.

So, AIBU to find this attitude sexist, and was IBU to point it out?

PurpleRayne Tue 20-Nov-12 16:43:24

No, well done you. Somebody has to be the first to initiate change in these circumstances.

IWipeArses Tue 20-Nov-12 16:45:05

Guides and Brownies don't allow boys to join, why would they have male leaders?
If you want equality, join the Scouts!

TangoPurple Tue 20-Nov-12 16:47:04

But Boys' Brigade is the equivalent of Brownies, and don't allow girls to join.

Yet they are allowed female leaders.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 20-Nov-12 16:47:15

You got a long way up the guiding movement before figuring that one out, OP! If you want male role models/authority figures, brownies would not be my first suggestion!

Kafri Tue 20-Nov-12 16:47:32

Girl guiding is female only, if you would like male input you need to go to beavers/cubs/scouts depending on age or boys/girls brigade etc. r poss consider something like sea cadets, St. John ambulance etc.

Don't think the rules at girl guiding are going to change anytime soon.

germyrabbit Tue 20-Nov-12 16:48:31

seems a little earnest to me. sometimes it's nice to be with groups of girls and women only when you're a kid

i went to a mixed school at it would kind of nice not to have boys around for a while

if a man had led my brownie/guide group it just wouldn't have been the same imo

blueemerald Tue 20-Nov-12 16:48:50

I suppose they might argue it's a bona fide occupational qualification (I don't agree).

The girl guide website says 'If you are over 18 and willing to undergo recruitment checks, you can become one of our volunteers working directly with girls. Our Leaders and Assistant Leaders must be female, but there are also thousands of male volunteers supporting guiding. The most important things are energy, enthusiasm and a willingness to try new activities.'

Girl Guides FAQ

Startail Tue 20-Nov-12 16:49:28

Men can be registered unit helpers, but not uniformed members of the Guide movement.

Guides has remained a girl only space not least because it allows it to exist in cultures where mixed groups are frowned on.

There are a couple of long threads about guides and girls in scouts.

DD is a scout and I feel she is encroaching on the one place the boys have left.

However, our local guides is nothing like as well planned and busy.

Pendeen Tue 20-Nov-12 16:49:31

If the scouts have female leaders I would be very surprised if there was an 'official' ban on male guides leaders.

But I would also be very surprised if there wasn't an 'unofficial' ban!

MainlyMaynie Tue 20-Nov-12 16:49:48

Don't you think girls need access to female only space?

TangoPurple Tue 20-Nov-12 16:50:30

Wow, I'm honestly so surprised! Is it definitely a rule then that men can't be volunteers?

They spent half the meeting complaining there's not enough volunteers in the area, and consequently they're having to turn girls away from Guides/Brownies.

Maybe allowing men to be leaders would enable more Guides/Brownies to open.

ConfusedPixie Tue 20-Nov-12 16:51:59

YANBU. I'm a trainee scout leader and my Dad-boss was talking to me about it the other day and asked about Brownies, and just said "Well, you can be a Scout leader but could I be a Brownie Leader if I wanted too?"

Made me realise that he most likely wouldn't, and it also made me think I was glad I heard back from the local Girl Guiding Association about working for them! I like my Explorer Scouts thank you very much!

ConfusedPixie Tue 20-Nov-12 16:54:02

Cross posts: The Boys Brigade have a female equivalent: Girls Brigade. Brownies is the equivalent of Scouts, which is a mixed-sexed organisation.

msrisotto Tue 20-Nov-12 16:56:00

I heard that the reason no boys or men are allowed in the brownies is because it would exclude girls from religious backgrounds who are not allowed to interact with the male species?

trinitybleu Tue 20-Nov-12 16:56:21

When I was a Ranger (20 years ago) our Leader was male. I'm sure he and his wife were joint Leaders, he wasn't just a Helper.

Males can def be Helpers.

TangoPurple Tue 20-Nov-12 16:56:24

Ahhh sorry confusedpixie. My mentor seems to have misinformed me on that. She said Brownies was the same as Boys' Brigade. We don't have a Girls' Brigade around here.

MrsFionaCharming Tue 20-Nov-12 17:01:24

These conversations really annoy me, they always swing around to discussing how badly run/sexist the Guides are compared to the Scouts.

1) Guiding and Scouting may be closely linked and have shared history, but they are completely separate organisations. They do not have to comply by the same rules / guidelines.

2) Many cultures don't allow girls to spend time in mixed-gender company, however none have the same restrictions for boys. Hence requiring female only spaces.

3) In an average environment, boys and men are far safer from sexual harassment and threat. Guiding is a place where girls can be safe from these. Hence requiring female only spaces.

4)There's a much bigger shortage of Scout leaders than Guide leaders, so clearly allowing men won't solve this issue.

5)All these groups are run by volunteers. Just because one Guide/Brownie group is very girly/disorganized/other seemingly 'bad' thing, doesn't mean they all are, and doesn't mean they are automatically inferior to Scouts.

6) 60% of the women recently elected to the US Senate were Girl Scouts. Virtually every female astronaut has been a Girl Scout. The organisation is an amazing thing, providing girls and young women with many amazing opportunities that they may otherwise miss out on, and boys tend to get preferential treatment everywhere else.

Felicitywascold Tue 20-Nov-12 17:02:31

Men CAN volunteer as unit helpers (and many do), they don't wear the same uniform (and don't have to wear uniform), but there are unisex t-shirts they can choose to wear (women can be unit helpers to).

Men cannot be warrented guiders. This is because GGUK is an unashamed girl and women led organisation which seeks to provide single gender experiences for girls.

Importantly there are no laws preventing this, or indeed preventing similar male only organisations. the fact that many have gone co-ed over time, (ref. scouts) is because of falling numbers of both participants and volunteers. And/or because that is what the organisation has chosen to do.

GGUK has more members than the scouts and is growing. It does not need input from men.

And by that I don't mean Men don't input on my life generally or anything ridiculous like that, just that guiding is female only, and this is important.

ConfusedPixie Tue 20-Nov-12 17:02:45

msrissoto: That would make sense actually. But then it would depend on the group, as some are quite Christian groups which in itself would exclude those of other religions.

Tango: I was in the Girls Brigade as a child (and Brownies! Our scouts didn't take girls at the time!) which is why I know about it! I think it's lesser known about but the Girls and Boy brigade are single sex groups which both exist in today's society, but they are largely Christian organisations.

I think that both Scouts and Guides should be open to both sexes, they do do activities that are different and catered to a particular sex, but as the popularity of Scouts with girls has proven, it's all down to individuals rather than sex so what if there is a boy who would prefer to do activities that Guides do and doesn't want to do Scouting activities? Where does he go? I remember being gutted that I couldn't be a scout when I was a kid because it would have suited me much more than Brownies and Guides did!

Lovecat Tue 20-Nov-12 17:03:12

I wouldn't want male 'authority' figures in the brownies or guides. There's enough of them in the real world, tbh. And precious few female-only spaces.

That said, I'm not sure why Scouts & Cubs had to go co-ed, boys/men should have their own spaces too. But then cubs (possibly scouts, don't know) have female leaders too and had them even when they were male-only places... ok, I'm confused (it's easily done).

Lovecat Tue 20-Nov-12 17:04:39

xpost with Felicitywas - that makes more sense! smile

MrsFionaCharming Tue 20-Nov-12 17:07:22

Confused Pixie: There is no difference between 'Guide' and 'Scout' activities. A well run Unit should have a good mix of running around / craft / outdoor activities / trips / badge work.

If a boy doesn't like the activities his Unit does, then he should find a different unit, not force himself into one of the few remaining female only spaces.

Kafri Tue 20-Nov-12 17:09:02

The current leader of the GG movement was on tv last week I think it was and thy asked the question about it being girls only.

Her answer was that it allows girls to have time together with just their girlfriends and many of the girls had expressed that it was nice to be girls only and not ave to worry about 'impressing' the boys

To be fair, GG has been this way since it began and to m the answer is simple. If you'd rather a child went to a mixed sex activity, just don't choose GG.

I loved my time at rainbows/brownies and guides but I also went to CL&CGB so had the best of both worlds.

MrsFionaCharming Tue 20-Nov-12 17:09:16

Lovecat: Scouts did not 'have' to go co-ed, no one forced them. Numbers were fast falling, and the members themselves voted to allow girls in, as otherwise the movement would have slowly died.

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