New feature: Girls in the lead

// 8 December 2009

Girlguides can offer girls a respite from pressure of gendered expectations. Clare Burgess offers her perspective as a late-joiner

GirlguidesStarting Guiding at the rather late age of 20, I was admittedly being a hypocrite. All of the benefits I claim to get out of it now were far from my mind and I did not like the idea of a single-sex organisation. After all, that is why I was never a Guide growing up.

The truth is I was just looking for a way to fill my time. I was a student with the beginning stages of a horrible bout of depression. I was looking for any reason to leave the house. I answered an ad and by the time they contacted me I’d forgotten all about it.

I arrived at the meeting out of a sense of obligation and was led, looking confused, into the church hall. Two leaders were anxious for help and I was dispatched into the kitchen to help supervise some cupcake baking.

It was a mess. This group of girls (a patrol, I was told) had decided to bake cupcakes. Between them they had managed to bring all the ingredients to the meeting. One had the butter and another one had the sugar and flour. A mess was made and we all had a laugh cooking, talking and then cleaning up together.

Still, I was wondering why this was happening. It seemed to be badly planned, silly and bound to go wrong. Why where these girls allowed to organise themselves? Why where they working towards a chocolate Go For It? Whose idea was that?

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