Sorry Girls, Camping Just Isn't Suitable for You

This is the anti-feminist message conveyed by the Israel Scouts' decision to let Procter & Gamble install girls' bathrooms on campgrounds.

Shany Littman
Shany Littman
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Israel Scouts (illustrative).
Israel Scouts (illustrative).Credit: Courtesy
Shany Littman
Shany Littman

Summer camps are a dirty business. Entire days under the broiling-hot sun, dust, sticky snacks, the smell of campfires, crushed leaves and stones under your sleeping bag. Really, not suitable for girls. Girls are clean and delicate, and they have to smell of shampoo and perfume and perspire Perrier as they stand on the porch in flowery dresses, waiting for suitors. A clean bed, healthy and non-fattening food – that’s what girls need. And want.

So it’s not clear why they let girls in the Israel Scouts – or, for that matter, in any other youth movement – go to summer camp. One can only imagine these clean and delicate young people getting dirty like that. Horrifying. Where are their parents? In other words, where are their mothers?

Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scout Movement in 1907, was apparently aware of the problem, as when he started the movement, it was for boys only. In those days it wasn’t considered proper for young girls to be outdoors, to go camping and hiking. Later, the girls insisted, or were pushed or persuaded, that they should be permitted to do those things – perhaps by some sort of hostile feminist groups. But Mother Nature, as is explained in advertisements for sanitary napkins, continued to have her say and to endow these female creatures with a monthly period, a perpetual reminder that they should stay in the vicinity of air-conditioned, discreet bathrooms, scented with all kinds of nice fragrances.

It’s fortunate that Procter & Gamble in Israel thus mobilized to repair a distortion that existed for over 100 years. It’s also fortunate that Israel Scouts came to its senses and allowed the company, which has good intentions and only wants to promote its essential products – in particular, its sanitary pads – and to help the girls, to set up mobile bathrooms at its summer campsites. So alongside all the dirt, between the vestiges of campfires and improvised kitchens, the girls can seek refuge in clean, air-conditioned and well-appointed rest rooms.

An Always ad on the side of a mobile girls' bathroom at an Israel Scouts campsite says 'Nothing can stop me on the way to victory. Not even my period. Keep playing #likeagirl.'Credit: Courtesy

According to a Procter & Gamble spokesman, as quoted in an article on Tuesday in TheMarker (Hebrew edition), “the moving reactions of the girls in the past few years demonstrate the added value and the necessity of this activity, especially at these ages, when the girls have issues with body image and special needs.”

It makes sense. What do girls need, if not another reminder that physiological changes during adolescence and a monthly period are a problem and an embarrassment that must be taken care of, and that nothing other than rest rooms on wheels will do the trick here?

True, it’s hard to turn back the wheel and end the participation of girls in scout camps. But we can at least hint that maybe it’s not for them, and that maybe next year, it would be better for them to stay home.

But seriously... It’s clear that in this case, the company promoting its products wasn’t really thinking about the good of the girls, but rather about the graphs from its marketing department. Some parents justifiably had a fit when they saw the blatant ads accompanying the facilities, masked as concern for the girls’ welfare. But it’s startling that in the Scouts, which is supposed to be an ideological movement that promotes values of simplicity, awareness of and closeness to nature, mutual responsibility and physical activity – nobody thought about the distorted, indulgent and anti-feminist message embodied in Procter & Gamble’s air-conditioned offer.

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