COPING LESSONS FROM THE BOY SCOUTS
I saw a Facebook post about the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) dropping the word “Boy.” The usual Pavlovian knee-jerk comments about political correctness (PC) followed, decrying how we can’t even say “boy scouts” anymore without offending women. Actually, according to other reports, membership in the Boy Scouts is declining, and removing “boy” is a strategic move by the organization to bolster membership by encouraging girls to join. There is no government or liberal plot to force the sexist boy scouts to put aside their evil ways.
Isn’t it a shame how the PC card is often played out of desperation by defensive, insecure, paranoid, and dependent folks who know they’re holding a losing hand? For them, “PC” is code that means, “Change is coming that takes me out of my comfort zone.” In our coping context, obsessing and screaming about PC suggests poor coping skills in the screamer. Change is a threat to their psychological security so they play the PC card with regularity. For some reason, they have trouble seeing that for the most part, PC is simply a plea for common courtesy and respect in our interactions with others. Yes, PC can be overdone, but those instances are usually easily recognizable by their absurdity. The point is, for those secure in their own skin, the change implied by PC is not a threat to their psychological welfare.
But, back to the Boy Scouts. What about their strategic decision to drop “Boys”? Listen to what Kristina Hernandez, a media consultant and freelance writer, has to say about this issue in an Op-Ed piece. Hernandez talks about her 7-year old daughter who joined a Cub Scout pack that previously was open only to boys. She says, “I have watched my daughter’s confidence bloom in the short amount of time she has been a Cub Scout. She has been able to do everything the boys do, from learning how to shoot a bow and arrow, to starting a fire, to racing her own derby car, and shooting a BB gun.” Hernandez, a self-described conservative who believes that “genders do matter,” says she is grateful to BSA for opening their ranks. “I want my daughter to have every opportunity that boys have, to be empowered as a woman and know that she is capable of doing what boys do, but in her own, female way. Femininity, or masculinity, need not be lost because the BSA allows girls and changed their name.”
In the context of effective coping, these comments are a rational, thoughtful breath of fresh air when contrasted with the petty, infantile, self-serving PC ravings that obscure the true essence of what BSA has done. The PC crowd wants to perpetuate their safe, comfy world where girls learn to be sensitive, emotional, caring, supportive, and domestic. If boys develop such traits they are sissies and sacrifice their masculinity. This world says boys must learn to be aggressive, assertive, dominant, and independent. If girls show these characteristics, however, they have lost their femininity and become man-haters. Ah, the secure clarity of how it was for the PC crowd a time long past.
Welcome to the 21st century, guys! Psychologists have long known that the key to effective coping is having a wide range of options when choosing actions to confront challenges. The modern woman has the traditional feminine traits, and has no problem raising children, cleaning house, or cooking; but if the situation requires her to be assertive, competitive, and forceful, she can do so without feeling less of a woman. By the same token, a man today might have no problem “being a man,” standing his ground firmly and decisively, and initiating forceful action; but he can also show emotion and sensitivity, dust the living room, change a diaper, and support his spouse’s career without any threat to his manhood. The breadth of traits shown by today’s women and men makes them far better able to cope with life compared to those who are secure only in traditional roles. Is it not a coping tragedy when a woman is confronted with a situation that requires assertiveness, but she withdraws so she won’t appear less feminine? Is it not equally tragic when a man is confronted with a situation calling for warmth and emotionality, but withdraws out of fear of appearing less masculine?
Hernandez notes that her daughter’s uniform shirt reads, “Boy Scouts of America,” but she adds, “That name will be altered soon but the ingrained character, independence, and honor of the Boy Scouts will not be changed. It will only look different, with strong women of character emerging from the program, right along with the boys.”
We might add that our society will also be strengthened by a new generation of Americans, men and women of all backgrounds and persuasions, better equipped to cope with everyday life, and thereby ready to “participate in humanity” with values, morality, and honor. What we are seeing almost daily — whether it be in the noble crusades of high-school students tired of being shot at, young athletes tired of being sexually abused by a perverse physician, or women tired of being subjugated to the whims of powerful men – is a movement reasserting the can-do spirit of two-and-a-half centuries ago, a spirit that joined the Declaration of Independence with The Constitution and gave birth to our country. It’s a spirit that offers to put “United” back in what “USA” means, and it gives an old bird like me a needed jolt of hope for tomorrow.