Intolerance by a Different Name

This gender-free childrearing fad is getting out of hand.

First there was the family in Canada who managed to get worldwide attention for not revealing the sex of their baby. Now there’s this:

STOCKHOLM (AP) — At the “Egalia” preschool, staff avoid using words like “him” or “her” and address the 33 kids as “friends” rather than girls and boys.

From the color and placement of toys to the choice of books, every detail has been carefully planned to make sure the children don’t fall into gender stereotypes.

“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.”

Judging from the article, these kids aren’t being given the opportunity to be whoever they want to be. Some of the girls are going to want to wear pink and play princess at least some of the time. Some of the boys are going to crash into walls, and furniture, and each other at high rates of speed pretty much all of the time. I know. I watch kids play and boys and girls do play differently even when they’re not playing with stereotypical boy and girl toys.

What I see is kids being forced into a gender-optional counterculture every bit as oppressive as the worst patriarchy:

Director Lotta Rajalin notes that Egalia places a special emphasis on fostering an environment tolerant of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. From a bookcase, she pulls out a story about two male giraffes who are sad to be childless — until they come across an abandoned crocodile egg.

A heartwarming story, until “junior” grows up and eats dad and dad.

Nearly all the children’s books deal with homosexual couples, single parents or adopted children. There are no “Snow White,” ”Cinderella” or other classic fairy tales seen as cementing stereotypes.

So what about those odd kids who happen to live with two married, biological, opposite-gender parents. By including every family model but the typical one, they are excluding almost everyone. One “other” is replaced by a different “other.” Different stereotypes; same cement.

But it gets better:

Rajalin, 52, says the staff also try to help the children discover new ideas when they play.

“A concrete example could be when they’re playing ‘house’ and the role of the mom already is taken and they start to squabble,” she says. “Then we suggest two moms or three moms and so on.”

And so on? Like four, or five, or twenty? You can never have enough moms in Sweden!

Or perhaps, like kids have done for what seems like forever, you can have a mom and a dad and kids and maybe an aunt or a grandma? And there’s nothing wrong with dad helping out in the kitchen. Why do they go straight to the “it takes a lesbian village” model? How many kids grow up in households like that?

I’m being sarcastic, of course. I don’t want the adopted kid (I was adopted), or the kid with the single mom, or the kid with two moms or two dads to feel like an oddity. But I don’t want the kid from the biological nuclear family to feel like an oddity either.

In a environment like this, my daughter—who loves pink and loves princesses and plays like a girl, and is also smart and creative and sometimes hilarious—would feel like an oddity, even before she opened her mouth and every one realized she “talks funny.”

Kids don’t need that. They need an open, supportive, educational environment where they can be who they are. Don’t force them to play like stereotypical girls and boys, but don’t force them to deny themselves to conform to some politically correct genderlessness either.

It’s a disturbing story. But I can’t help but laugh at quotes like this:

Egalia is unusual even for Sweden. 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.

“We use the word “Hen” for example when a doctor, police, electrician or plumber or such is coming to the kindergarten,” Rajalin says. “We don’t know if it’s a he or a she so we just say ‘Hen is coming around 2 p.m.’ Then the children can imagine both a man or a woman. This widens their view.”

Not knowing Swedish, of course, I’m imagining a giant chicken.

(Hat tip to Jimmy Akin for bring this story to my attention.)

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