Boy Wants to be a Girl Scout.. Wait What?

October 27, 2011

Political Theory


Yesterday I came across an article about a 7-year-old boy who desires to be a Girl Scout.  Yes you read that correctly, a little boy, Bobby Montoya, wants to be a member of an all girl organization that is famously known for their cookies (which I must admit are amazing).   Bobby is a little different than what most Americans perceive a little 7-year-old boy to be.   While most 7-year-old boys love to play with GI Joes, sports, and video games Bobby enjoys to play with dolls such as Barbies and Strawberry Shortcakes.  When Bobby goes to school he does not wear a shirt of his favorite cartoon character, rather he wears blouses and dresses, and he even does his hair like a girl. Most American 7-year old boys would have nothing to do with Bobby.  He receives plenty of criticism from his peers about his decision to dress and act as a girl.  A reporter asked Bobby if it was tough to go to school dressed as a girl and if he is hurt from his peers down talk, Bobby said, “It’s like pretty hard. It hurts me and my mom both.”

Bobby Montoya rejected from being a Girl Scout because he has "boy parts."

When Bobby and his mother asked a troop leader if he could join the Girl Scouts, the troop leader said, “It doesn’t matter how he looks; he has boy parts, he can’t be in Girl Scouts.  Girl Scouts don’t allow that, and I don’t want to be in trouble by parents or my supervisor.”  This brought Bobby to tears.  The worst part about this is that the troop leader said all of this right to Bobby’s face.  Bobby’s mother, Felisha Archuleta, told reporters that the troop leader asked her, “What do you call it?”  Uh what? If you are a parent how are you supposed to respond to that question?  Archuleta has been right there for Bobby the whole time. She supports all of his decisions. Her protest against the decision of the troop leader is being heard by Girl Scouts, and a decision to let Bobby into the group is close according to Girl Scouts.

After reading the article I immediately thought about the issue of identity we talked about in class.  The contingent factors of birth such as sex and nationality force men and women to fall into certain types of cultural stereotypes.  Some examples of these cultural stereotypes that apply to sex are men don’t wear pink, women don’t propose, men are aggressive, and women are irrational. We learned that we should say to hell with those ideas! For we should be allowed to act out our own self interest no matter what.  This is exactly what Bobby is thinking, he says, “Mom you’re right. They can’t be mean to me. I am a human being just like everyone else.”  Bobby is a perfect advocator of Kwame Anthony Appiah’s ideas of cosmopolitan. Appiah states, “Cosmopolitism’s care about everybody, but not in a way that means they want everyone to be the same or like them.”

The question that I am trying to bring up is should we tolerate Bobby? Your first reaction to this story was probably close to, “Wait what? Is this kid out of his mind? He looks exactly like a girl?”  Then you probably said, as most Americans would, “Tell this kid to snap out of it and someone please get this kid some action heroes!” Should we think like this? Should the contingent factor of sex affect our lives? Should Bobby’s self-interests be denied because of his “boy parts?”

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12 Comments on “Boy Wants to be a Girl Scout.. Wait What?”

  1. springsteen1 Says:

    This post begs a number of different questions. What is the line between ethically, morally, and legally (or statutorily) what a boy vs a girl can do, where are the lines blurred, when/how do they become blurred, and what are the exceptions to the rules and for when? Age seems to be a common factor, though it is not the only one.

    If a boy wants to play on girl’s softball, there are some who argue he should DEFINITELY be able to – if no alternative is available. Some argue this is not acceptable. In my opinion (please, open to debate / argument), the determining / deciding factor here is whether an alternative is offered. For example, if a boys version is more difficult / a different game/style (ie baseball), I don’t know what my decision would be.

    Your concept, and the one I address above, particularly pique my interest because I did, in fact, try to join the female softball team in High School, if for nothing other than to prove a point – I was interested in the notion of what boys vs girls could do, and when asked to join a particular club, group, or organization, what the barriers to entry were/are, and what was fair.

    DEBATE.

  2. namin91 Says:

    Great post. I, personally, think there is nothing wrong with what Bobby is doing. If you’re talking in terms of sex then yes, he’s a boy. This doesn’t mean that he has to conform to hegemonic masculinity though. As we learned in class, gender is a cultural construct, and I think it’s very brave of this 7-year old boy to go against these constructs and be who he wants to be.

    While I think he should be 100% allowed to join the Girl Scouts troop, I don’t think he will be allowed to. I think the notion of an alternative that springsteen1 brought it up is interesting. I don’t think the fact that there is an alternative (Boy Scouts) changes my mind. Just because an alternative exists doesn’t mean its appropriate for the person. I don’t think Boy Scouts would be an acceptable alternative for Bobby because he doesn’t related to the things Boy Scouts do. In a cultural sense, he does what girls do. It seems that he would be much more comfortable and happy as a Girl Scout.

    I think this story leads us into the larger, very complicated issue of gender constructs and where we draw the line. Should associations based on gender be restricted to those of a certain sex? I don’t think so.

  3. jeanchaw Says:

    Well this certainly is an interesting subject. I would first like like to note that there have been mens only clubs around for years and since women now have equals rights they should also be allowed to form private, women’s only clubs and groups. The country club I attend now used to not allow female members until a few decades ago.

    If he were to have a sex change however, I wonder if they would then allow him to become a girl scout. I saw a glimpse of an ESPN film about a female tennis player who was born as a man then had a sex change. I didn’t watch it for long as you can imagine. The point is, if she was born as a man then her body developed like a man making her more athletic than a female, should she be allowed to play as a woman? She became a professional tennis player i’m sure he could become a girl scout.

  4. ywjpeter Says:

    Interesting post and interesting questions raised. In one view you have those that think men and women should have an identity shaped by society. You raise this question, should Bobby conform to what society wants him to become or should he stay the way he is. On this matter, Bobby should not conform, because he has become an individual himself and by his thinking of this way he may be able to contribute to society. He has already become a controversial person, and is making people aware of this type of behavior. Even though this is such a idiosyncratic case, the fact that the emergence of many more different types of people is rising. Being that Bobby is a child, and ultimately by choice he is being what he is, it can’t be ignored that some of this can be hereditary or all his fault.

    People are different and people being different contribute to the diversity of our society. If Bobby grows out of this stage then it will be fine by everyone, but if he does not it should still be fine with everyone. As for being allowed to be put into girl scout I think is a whole different topic. He is a boy and there is a boy scout. I think girl scout’s should be only girls because of the fact that allowing boys can create a conflict within the group. It can’t be ignored that, parents within girl scouts would be turned off and uncomfortable with a boy being allowed into this girl scout, no matter how girly the boy is. Therefore, for the sake of the continuity and consistency of the group I think Bobby should not be allowed.

  5. sbsmoler92692 Says:

    Of course we should tolerate Bobby. We live in a society that has overcome various issues regarding race, discrimination, segregation, and slavery, so why not tolerate transsexuals or sexually confused youth, such as Bobby. As compared to previous decades, we have grown up and always been taught to accept those that are different than us. This can also be evident through the gay pride movements, and a step forward in accepting their marriages in many states across the country. Bobby is clearly an example of a sexually confused child. While his parents might have shown him bob the builder, batman, the hulk, and other “boy” toys that are typical of someone his age, he clearly has gravitated towards the girly objects and activities. Let it not be for us to decide or stereotype him based on what gender he may be of, and what his interests and activities are. The same situation could be applied to girls who want to play football in high school. Drawing from a personal experience, I remember when I was a freshman in High School there was a rather manly girl who had protested and eventually got to play football on the boys Junior Varsity team for our high school. She was treated with the same respect that the other boy players got, and was not treated unjustly or unfairly. Additionally, there were boys who wanted tot try out for the Girls volleyball team, which was only a Girls team sport at school. They had to go through the same process of tryouts and practice that every other girl had to go through, and received no “special or biased” treatment because of their gender. The same principles should be applied to Bobby, as I would hope he would be granted access into the Girl Scout Troop at his school, where all he wants really is to be treated just like one of the girls. Because we, as citizens, have the rights to free speech and expression, Bobby’s personal self-interests should never be denied because of his “boy parts.”

  6. godzillagti Says:

    I personally think that having the girl and boy scouts separate is completely sexist and out dated. Boy scouts learn to build fires and survive in the wild, while the girl scouts help sell cookies. The whole idea seems very 1950s to me. It would be ideal for the two to mesh to be as sexist as possible, but that is not what most people want. No matter how hard Bobby may try in his life, he is still a boy. He can dress up all he wants, but he still has “boy parts.” Therefore, as long as there is a boy scouts and a girl scouts, he will not be allowed into the girl scouts. These organizations clearly create a divide between the sexes from a very young age which doesn’t need to be emphasized, but we can’t help but notice these divides. Most of us would agree that based on Bobby’s story, he is a boy. Even though he doesn’t follow some of the cultural stereotypes associated with a boy, we still see him as one. I completely agree that Bobby should not be let into the girl scouts because simply put, he is a boy.

  7. zrobbins24 Says:

    Although Bobby may dress and act like a girl, he is still a boy. Since there are Boy Scouts, or at his age, Cub Scouts which is for boys, I believe that Bobby will not be allowed to join the Girl Scouts, nor do I think he should be allowed to join the Girl Scouts. A major issue that would occur if Bobby joined the Girl Scouts would be that the little girls who are already in that troop would be uncomfortable. What would those girls think of having Bobby in their troop? I feel that many of those girls would feel uneasy because they joined Girl Scouts to be with girls and that would cause a problem. If this is the case, following the theory of utilitarianism, in that an action would take place that would be in the greatest interest of the greater good, as Mill believed, more people would benefit with Bobby not in the troop than would if he was in it. Unfortunately for Bobby, this would keep him from joining the Girl Scouts.

    As for tolerating Bobby, I do not believe that Bobby, who is only 7 years old, is old enough to choose his own interests, per se. After briefly reading about this, it seems to me that he may have been influenced in some way to behave like this. At 7 years old, a child develops his/her interests based on what their parents, relatives, or friends like and I feel that happened to Bobby. I do not think Bobby has had chances to express his own opinions. He was raised one way, I feel, and is only comfortable with behaving the way that he grew up. Thus, I feel that he is too young and has not been able to develop his own “self-interest” yet.

  8. lbaek Says:

    My first reaction actually wasn’t a surprised one. The thought of getting the “kid some action heroes!” never crossed my mind. This is probably because I, along with a growing portion of society accept transgender. How can self-interests be denied to children that insist they were born in the wrong body? Just because what’s between their legs doesn’t match what’s between their ears doesn’t mean they should be forced to live in shadows, hiding from a world that views them as freaks. Socially constructed expectations are all around us. Transgenders are expected to follow these models that correspond to their physical appearance. Thus, it is a constant struggle for these people when society forces them to be someone they are not. To me, the fact that this identity crisis occurs during a period as innocent and fragile as childhood is saddening. So, what kind of message would the Girls Scout association be sending if they do not allow Bobby to become a member? I understand that the rest of the girls might feel uncomfortable, but this is exactly why Bobby needs to be accepted. It will teach them that it is okay to be different- a lesson of acceptance.

    I think it is clear that this entire situation revolves around the question of the reality of being born in the wrong body. Boys are mean to act like boys with their cars while girls are supposed to act like girls with Barbie. But, why don’t we ever ask the more puzzling question of the gender identity of non-transgender people? It seems to me that we do not have a rational explanation that connects boys with blue and girls with pink. Regardless of why transgender exist, I believe it is important that children grow up in a safe and nurturing environment. We have to remember that being transgender is not a choice. By forcing gender stereotypes upon them could lead to psychological trauma and danger. What did transgenders do to have them face a battle with the discomfort with their own bodies? All in all, the contingent factor of sex should not affect our lives.

    Lastly, I disagree with zrobbins24 regarding Bobby not being old enough to choose his own interests along with his mom influencing his behavior. Would a mom really be cruel enough to make her son a transgender and force him to face the harsh reality of society? Also, how did the notion of Bobby being he influenced by his mother arise? Because she is accepting her child for whom he is regardless of what he’s supposed to be? Would she be considered a better influence if she forced him to act like the average boy? Furthermore, I believe by the age of seven, he or she is capable of expressing and developing their own interests. It’s an inborn instinct to gravitate towards your preferences, thus, you would know if you want to be a boy or a girl. Overall, I’m glad with the decision made: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/nationnow/2011/10/girl-scouts-of-colorado-welcomes-boy-as-long-as-he-believes-hes-a-girl.html?track=lat-pick

  9. srubins Says:

    This is a very unique article to say the least. It is not often that you come across such a psychological situation and for that reason, I found this very intriguing. I believe that Bobby should be tolerated. He obviously has a different outlook on life than most other boys his age. He should be respected and allowed to live his life as he wishes–though he does not realize how difficult this is going to be as he gets older. Yet, he should not be tolerated to the point of being allowed to join the Girl Scouts.

    What is going on with Bobby is something that is out of the hands of anyone but trained psychologic professionals. I think just approaching this with the “tell the kid to snap out of it” strategy is simply foolish. Bobby plays with girl toys, dresses like a girl, thinks of himself as a girl, and wants to join the girl scouts. I do not think buying him an XBOX or a baseball glove would mend the situation. He would probably choose to play unisex or more feminine video games and play softball as oppose to baseball, respectively. This is an unfortunate situation but if this is the life he is choosing to live, then it cannot be looked at that way. He is simply living the way he would like to.

    The contingent factor of sex is a very grey issue. When it comes to personal rights and opportunities, sex should absolutely not affect our lives being that we are all created equally, sexually and racially. However, there are certainly times when this should be closer examined such as Bobby’s situation. I understand that he wants to join the Girl Scouts but the reason there are Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts are so that male children can have these same experiences–he is a boy and therefore should not be a girl scout. However, he should not be denied the right to express himself in the manner that he is.

  10. luniho Says:

    As a former Girl Scout of 12 years, this post understandably piqued my attention. It seems that many of you think that the organization only encourages girls to sell cookies; my troop built a home with Habitat for Humanity, volunteered at Food Gatherers and went on primitive camping trips.

    More to the topic at hand, I see no reason why this child shouldn’t have been able to join the troop. One person in my troop, who I’ll call Finn here, requested that he be referred to with “him, his and he” and changed his name. He dressed in a gender neutral manner. Our troop leaders, and other girls in my troop, accepted his gender expression.

    Individuals, in my opinion, should be able to join and identify in whatever groups they wish. I understand that many are confused by male bodied individuals identified with traditionally female gender roles, but it’s a natural association; what’s really remarkable is how many of us are comfortable with the gender assigned us at birth, corresponding to our perceived sexes.

  11. parijog Says:

    While I admire Bobby’s confidence and self-assurance, I feel that his presence in the girl scouts would detract significantly from the experience of the girls, making his participation wrong according to the “greater good” theory. Having a member of the opposite sex on your troop (especially one that draws so much attention) would be hugely distracting from the real goal of the girl scouts. Just as sailors in the old days didn’t like allowing women to sail with them (because of distraction it would cause the men) the girl scouts should not allow Bobby to join them.
    While I do recognize the value in diversity and changing old ways, I still believe that during formative years especially, kids should always have the opportunity to participate in simple organizations such as the girl scouts without the intrusion of social drama such as this. If you argue that introducing Bobby’s diversity to the girls is a good thing, then why shouldn’t Bobby join the Boy scouts? Regardless of his personal preferences, the boy scouts would allow Bobby to make new friends, and perhaps he would find that dressing up as a girl no longer appeals to him. In this way, his individuality would not be stifled, only influenced by those he will come to befriend. Also, the girl scouts will be able to maintain the time old tradition of being a club for young women and by young women, because adherence to this principle means a lot to a lot of people, and to dilute this by allowing Bobby to have his way, a lot of girls will be worse off. Therefore, I argue that Bobby should not be allowed to join in observance of the greater good theory.

  12. cblaskie Says:

    I think Bobby should be treated like a human being instead of some kind of freak, he still has feelings and should be allowed to do what makes him happy whether that be G.I. Joe or Barbie dolls. I never really liked how the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts perpetuate gender roles, where men are encouraged to be brave and rugged, learning to build fires and put up tents while women are taught to sell cookies and do arts and crafts. The point of these organizations are for team building, friendship and community service all meant for building life skills, I do not understand why the troop leader wouldn’t let Bobby in. If the boy wants to help out his community and make friends then who are we to stop him from living his life the way he wants to. If Bobby’s lifestyle was in someway harmful to others I could see an argument for putting a stop to him joining the Girl Scouts, but as I see it he genuinely wanted to join and he should have been welcomed with open arms as an equal not looked at as a freak or monster.

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