I was so excited to have a regular Girl Scout troop meeting tonight. The girls are working on their Journey about breaking stereotypes. They have decided to make a movie about how girls are brave and don’t always like pink. Many of my girls are frustrated by the gender specific toy aisles, and how packaging for girl toys is often pink and frilly. They have crafted a story about a girl named Ashley who likes to mountain climb, and is confronted by stereotypes along the way.
The other challenge of this activity is working as a team to complete this project. One girl flat out said that this wasn’t going to work because she doesn’t like to work with other people – she has particular ideas and doesn’t like to compromise. Other girls want to sit back and watch it all happen before them. So, we focus on the important roles that each girl will have and see how we can work together for a finished product.
Ironically, one of the roadblocks to teamwork in my troop are the stereotypes surrounding these girls. Some of the girls are stereotyped as being ‘strange’ or ‘weird’, and other girls in my troop do not like to partner up with them because of the social implications it brings. Other girls are busy being the ‘goofy’ ones and people have a hard time taking them seriously. Then there are the ‘sporty’ girls who spend so much time together in their various sports that they can be exclusive to those who show athleticism. The girls are all in 5th grade, and this separation by stereotype has really escalated this year. My goal for the rest of the year is to try to bring some clarity to this…to see if they recognize this among themselves. It is my attempt to combat the ‘mean girls’ that seem to show up earlier and earlier these days.
I think it is important for our girls to feel unstoppable, that there are no barriers from stereotype or otherwise that will get in their way of who they are and what they want to accomplish. Yet, I also think we need to combat the social stereotypes that can lead to bullying and peer pressure during these pre-teen and teenage years. Not only should these girls be able to stand up for themselves and what they want to achieve, but they should also stand up to others who create barriers of exclusion and defeated sense of self. These are the brave women we need in this world.