A public preschool in a liberal part of Stockholm has created an environment where gendered pronouns are not used, the children are referred to as "friends" instead of "boys and girls," and toys are deliberately gender neutral. Sounds crazy!
It also sounds like a conservative's worst fucking nightmare. From the New York Daily News:
Those bent on shattering gender roles "say there's a hierarchy where everything that boys do is given higher value, but I wonder who decides that it has higher value," she says. "Why is there higher value in playing with cars?"
At Egalia – the title connotes "equality" – boys and girls play together with a toy kitchen, waving plastic utensils and pretending to cook. One boy hides inside the toy stove, his head popping out through a hole.
Lego bricks and other building blocks are intentionally placed next to the kitchen, to make sure the children draw no mental barriers between cooking and construction.
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.
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.
Shrieeeeeeek!!!!! There are so many scary words and phrases in there it's hard to even think about it. Gay indoctrination! Forced gender confusion! Boys playing in a kitchen! "It just ain't right." - A conservative comedian using his catchphrase to describe this.
In case anyone's worried, the school's dolls are anatomically correct, so they don't deny a biological gender difference. Though why do dolls at a preschool have, y'know, down-there anatomy anyway? Creepy school, guys. I mean, if parents want to send their kids there, that is of course their right, but Sweden's whole gender roles-based initiatives do sound a little crazy, especially when you consider things like this:
Breaking down gender roles is a core mission in the national curriculum for preschools, underpinned by the theory that even in highly egalitarian-minded Sweden, society gives boys an unfair edge.
To even things out, many preschools have hired "gender pedagogues" to help staff identify language and behavior that risk reinforcing stereotypes.
"Gender pedagogues"? Yikes. "'Run, Harry! The pedagogues are catching up to us!!!' Hermione yelled, the creatures reaching for her dress as they ran down the Hogwarts corridor." Spooky!
But really the craziest thing is that Sweden is, like, governmentally concerned with this at all. Don't you guys have like intractable wars and horrid poverty and needlessly divisive and unproductive civics to worry about? No? Oh. OK. Well, fine. Do whatever you want then, weirdos. See if we care.
[Image of Sweden's only two children via Shutterstock]