Sweden is not lacking in delightful things; maddening furniture which requires multiple frustrating wrenches, a meatball worthy of any buffet, lingonberry soda.
OK, I will admit it. I don’t really get lingonberry soda. What makes it so special?
Yet, still. Sweden. With their liberal maternity and paternity leave policies and their openness to gay marriage, it seems like a pretty swell place even if their taxes are astronomical. I am sure I could get used to the crappy soda for the benefits of living in their society.
Well, it seems Sweden has another Utopian idea up it’s sleeve: genderless preschools.
At the “Egalia” school in Stockholm, the children refer to their classmate as “friend” instead of “boy” and “girl”. The teachers are also instructed to avoid gendered pronouns. It seems a little rigid and perhaps could cause some confusion with children still developing language, but generally harmless. Especially when you take in to account the other things in the schools ciricula.
Legos are next to toy kitchens and the children are all encouraged to play with both. Instead of reading fairytales laden with gender stereotypes, the teachers share stories about gay couples, divorced parents and single parent homes. The school, according to a teacher, “gives them a fantastic opportunity to be whoever they want to be.”
And what, pray tell, is the problem with that? Why is this even news? Shouldn’t this just be how preschool is run?
I have never understood a lot of the rigid gender stereotypes foisted upon babies. Babies with headbands so you know they are girls? Seems a bit silly to me. Nurseries covered in tonka trucks? I’ve always found it a tad nauseating. They are kids, forming little people who will find their own identities. And yes, a lot of children will go through a princess stage or a matchbox car phase, but far be it from me to take a toy truck out of the hands of a little girl wearing a tiara.
So really, what Sweden is doing doesn’t seem all that extreme. It doesn’t much seem genderless, just more inclusive and accepting. And really, it seems that Sweden is doing something right; along with three other Nordic countries, it leads the world when it comes to gender equality. So how about them lingonberries?