Thursday, 30 June 2011

Achieving gender equality

The other day I came across this article about a Swedish school with a gender-neutral language policy. Basically, they are trying to raise the children to be unaware of their gender differences by changing the way they talk to them.



The staff are told to avoid any "masculine and feminine references". 
These words (or rather, their Swedish equivalents) are banned:
Him/his
Her/hers
Girl
Boy

They also "read books featuring gay and lesbian couples, single parents and adopted children, instead of fairy tales such as “Cinderella” or “Snow White,” which are rife with gender stereotypes."

The comments below the article make interesting reading.

Although the motives are admirable, I think this kind of exercise is flawed. And, to be honest, a little bit disturbing. Gender is a key part of a person's identity, and by refusing to acknowledge that someone even has a gender, that person will not develop a healthy sense of identity. The point of gender equality is not that girls and boys are actually identical (and we just haven't noticed), it's that they are equal despite their differences.

My friend Phil might come across more of this when he moves to Sweden next month.

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