Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Gender-Neutering in Sweden

The first word that comes to mind when you read the story is: Orwellian.

What would happen if a group of educators in some far off land decided to put in practice all of the most trendy theories of gender? What would happen if they had been given control over the minds of preschool children, the better to prevent them from ever thinking in terms of gender stereotypes? What if they were allowed to rid children's minds of anything that resembled hetero-normativity.

If they created a school to effect their ideologically-driven ways, they would naturally call it: Egalia, which seems to echo the French world for equality: egalite.

As I say, it feels perfectly Orwellian.

Most people think it is some kind of joke. When the AP reported the story, it presented it in almost a comic mode, as though it were just a new way to fight gender bias.

Besides, it’s just happening in Sweden, and, after all, what the Swedes do to their children is their business, not ours.

It’s easier to think of it as a joke. Otherwise, it feels like child abuse.

In Sweden, removing any references to gender is national policy. In America it’s informal policy. Some American school districts read books about how Heather has two Mommies. In Egalia the children are not allowed to discuss hetero-normative sexual congress.

In Egalia children are not allowed to use gender-specific generic pronouns. The Swedes have eliminated their versions of “his” and “her” from the language.

In America a college student would not be allowed to use generically masculine pronouns. Most American publications today will never use generic masculine pronouns, preferring “he or she” or, most commonly now, generic female pronouns.

That means that if the gender of a doctor or lawyer has not been specified you are not allowed to refer to him as a he.

No one believes that anti-male bias in America has reached the level that it has in Sweden, but it certainly exists in the school system.

Sad to say it, but Egalia is not a joke. It is an extreme instance of what happens when ideological zealots take over a school system.

Human language is the most venerable of human institutions. It has developed over millennia through usage, not by being dictated by a bunch of patriarchs.

Most if not all languages divide human beings by gender. To do otherwise would be to detach language completely from reality.

Now, Swedish educators and no small number of American gender-bending zealots have decided, on their own, that gender differences are intrinsically prejudicial to girls.

Thus, these educators refuse to allow young children to speak a real language. They happily, and without qualms, force them to use invented words, words that do not exist in the language, in order to avoid gender stereotyping.

As the AP reports: “Staff try to shed masculine and feminine references from their speech, including the pronouns him or her — ‘han’ or ‘hon’ in Swedish. Instead, they've have adopted the genderless 'hen,' a word that doesn't exist in Swedish but is used in some feminist and gay circles.”

Of course, some parents are disturbed at this trend. Which is good. But, how many parents simply go along with the trend because it is the trend and because it is supported by “experts.”

Parents wonder, quite rightly, about how the children of Egalia will be able to adapt to the outside world. They might ask what these children will do when they start learning foreign languages. What if you try eliminating masculine and feminine nouns and pronouns from French or Latin. You will never pass Latin if you ignore gender.

As it happens, the school is not in the business of helping children to adapt to the real world.
It wants children to belong to a utopian community, not to the real world where men and women are not neutered.

They are initiating preschool children into cult, an alternative community where specialized linguistic cues tell people whether or not your belong.  The educators are creating a cult of dysfunctional children. Will they grow up to be dysfunctional adults?

Shouldn't we ask whether these children will be traumatized once they leave the confines of their school? And, isn't this form of pedagogy really a way of sacrificing children’s minds to an ideal. To me this feels like child abuse.

While the Swedish educators claim that they are promoting equality the true victims of these methods are boys.

As the AP story reports: “Jay Belsky, a child psychologist at the University of California, Davis, said he's not aware of any other school like Egalia, and he questioned whether it was the right way to go. ‘The kind of things that boys like to do — run around and turn sticks into swords — will soon be disapproved of,’ he said. ‘So gender neutrality at its worst is emasculating maleness.’"

Few schools are as extreme as Egalia, but many of these techniques are not foreign to the American educational environment.

When bizarre American graduate students rail about hetero-normativity, most sensible people smile at their immaturity. In Sweden the school called Egalia is living the dream.

There, children can read: “... a story about two male giraffes who are sad to be childless — until they come across an abandoned crocodile egg.”

The story assumes that the two giraffes are childless because of some patriarchal conspiracy. You wonder how the story explains where the crocodile came from. I will also guess that it does not tell us what happens when the little crocodile, having been raised by giraffes, becomes a large carnivorous reptile, and looks around to see... dinner.

Naturally, opposite sexed couples, the kind that might procreate, have been banished from the curriculum: “Nearly all the children's books deal with homosexual couples, single parents or adopted children. “

Apparently, these zealots have decided that heterosexuality was invented to discriminate against those who are not heterosexual.

They also seem to believe that heterosexual reproduction is prejudicial against those couples who cannot perform the act.

Thus, children are being forced to pretend that that the kind coupling that produced them does not really exist.

As for the ultimate point of this utopian experiment, one of Egalia’s teachers explains it: "’Society expects girls to be girlie, nice and pretty and boys to be manly, rough and outgoing’," says Jenny Johnsson, a 31-year-old teacher. ’Egalia gives them a fantastic opportunity to be whoever they want to be.’"

But, who will tell these children that in the real world you cannot be whoever you want to be? What if these children decide that they don’t want to be Swedish? What if the boys decide that they really like to play with trucks and swords? What if the girls decide that they want to play with dolls and grow up to be wives and mothers?

Actually, these preschool children are being brainwashed into thinking that they cannot be whoever they want to be. They are being forced to be whoever their teachers and minders want them to be.


Robert Pearson said...

Will it be surprising if in 20 years today's five-year-olds, in Sweden (and the U.S. for that matter) become the "new Victorians"? Their chromosomes are immutable, and the Reaktion after the Great Islamic Riots are put down in Europe is going to last a generation, at least.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I neglected to mention it, but surely the influx of Muslims in Sweden is fast becoming a serious social problem. Perhaps not as bad as in the Netherlands, where they are trying to overcome their flirtation with multiculturalism, but certainly it's a problem.

Thanks for providing the backdrop to this social delirium about gender differences.