Fighting gender stereotypes is all the rage these days. First came news of the couple raising their child without revealing it’s gender (it’s okay to call it an It, right?) and now a preschool in Stockholm, Sweden, is instructing children not to utter “him,” “her,” “boy” and “girl.”
The move is being made in an attempt to eliminate gender bias. If the goal is for girls and boys to be friends (or frenemies, as the case so often is), then apparently gender-specific pronouns serve to harm the relations between the two.
At Egalia, which is a taxpayer-funded school and not a private school, books are read that feature gay and lesbian couples and single parents and adopted children, while classics like Cinderella and Snow White, which are “rife with gender stereotypes,” are banned.
The school’s staff has made up a genderless word to replace “him” and “her,” although the word doesn’t actually exist in the Swedish language.
A 2010 report on the global gender gap by the World Economic Forum found that Sweden is among the leading nations when it comes to gender equality.
I’m all for gender equality, but trying to eliminate gender specific pronouns from the language is confusing and silly, I think. And I believe there’s a difference between gender equality and gender neutrality. Why can’t we celebrate the differences between the genders? Why is a seemingly homogenized society emerging as a goal?
By all means, keep reading about different kinds of families and filter out the Disney fairy tales. Talk to kids and teach by example how people different from ourselves deserve to be treated. But the reality is that there are boys and there are girls. Why is creating a gender-neutral society emerging as some kind of new nirvana?
Do you think this Swedish school should be applauded for their effort, or is their effort too extreme?
Image: Creative Commons
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