The new head of the Girl Guides (or ‘Girl Scouts’ as they are known in the US) has boasted of the fact that she’s rubbish at cooking and said that if she were a girl joining the organisation today the badge she’d most covet would be one that celebrates Body Confidence.
Oh dear. I think I’ve just gone and qualified for an achievement badge of my own. The Projectile Involuntary Peristalsis Badge (With Oak Leaf Cluster).
Julie Bentley, who took over the Girl Guides last year, was being interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs. We learned that despite never having been a Brownie or a Girl Guide herself, and despite never having done a proper job remotely connected with the kind of outdoorsy, hearty, briskly demanding activities in which the Brownies and Guides used to specialise, Ms Bentley nevertheless has very forthright views on the organisation’s purpose.
“It is not about itchy brown uniforms and sewing and baking. It is a modern, contemporary, vibrant organisation.”
I’m sorry to hear that Ms Bentley wants to dismiss “sewing and baking” as belonging to an antediluvian past which has no place in the “modern, contemporary, vibrant” Girl Guides.
Ms Bentley doesn’t sound like the kind of person who much enjoys physical exercise, but if only she’d summoned up the will to press one of her fingers onto her TV remote in the last few years one thing she might have noticed is a very popular programme called The Great British Bake Off.
Lots of girls manage to watch this programme without being oppressed by its apparently old-fashioned, uncontemporary, non-vibrant message that baking is a desirable and fun skill to acquire. Indeed, many have been inspired to take up competitive home baking as a result – again, without any obvious jeopardy to their female self-esteem.
On Desert Island Discs, however, Bentley was keen to advertise more relevant, vibrant and contemporary Guiding activities, such as their involvement in something called Be The Change. The idea behind this scheme appears to be to put girls off developing the kind of practical skills which might come in handy when they get to be wives/mothers/employees/directors and instead to encourage them to devote their energies to whingeing, chippiness, dissatisfaction, and entitlement – which they can then vent on the rest of mankind with the support of the left-wing campaign organisation Change.Org.
Perhaps some of you feel as I do that the idea of letting this painfully right on, talent-lite, grievance-rich Essex girl anywhere near our nation’s impressionable female youth is about as fatuous and wrongheaded as, say, it would be to appoint Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi our new Chief of General Staff.