It reads like an SNL sketch: a girl scout in pigtails (Amy Poehler) rings the doorbell, only for the grumpy homeowner (Bill Hader) to tell her that her beloved Thin Mints will turn his kids into evil lesbians. At least that’s how pastor Kevin Swanson and his colleague Dave Buehner would have it.
On their radio show, the pair begged listeners to boycott Girl Scout Cookies because apparently the organization “doesn’t promote godly womanhood.” He implies that the organization’s website supports Planned Parenthood, abortions, and lesbianism. If we take a realistic look at the actual policies of GSUSA, it’s obvious that it’s pretty neutral politically; in response to the question, “What is GSUSA’s position regarding human sexuality, birth control, abortion?,” the site explains, “Girl Scouts of the USA does not take a position or develop materials on these issues. We feel our role is to help girls develop self-confidence and good decision-making skills that will help them make wise choices in all areas of their lives.”
In addition to being homophobic and intolerant, Swanson and Buehner’s words are profoundly anti-woman. Both public and private schools across the country are making efforts to support LGBT students and girls seeking sex education and birth control, yet these two chose to target an organization for being apolitical. And I think that has a lot to do with it being an organization known for empowering girls and women.
Simply put, the vitriol spouted by Swanson and Buehner is a form of fear-mongering. If they can convince conservative listeners that the GSUSA openly supports liberal causes like reproductive rights or LGBT rights, this boycott could hit an organization composed of powerful girls and women pretty hard. Their thinly-disguised concern seems be more rooted in his anti-feminist ideology than in anything else: Swanson declares, “The individualism of feminism has been devastating to this country.” Similarly, Buehner expresses contempt for working women: rather than raising “a woman who is going to compete with men in the marketplace, [one should raise] a woman who will be a helpmeet to a man so he can compete in the marketplace.”
The homophobia and sexism in the pastors’ words is upsetting, but I hope (and pray) that no one will take their words seriously. I mean, they’re attacking Girl Scouts for goodness’s sake. Girl Scouts.