GOOD

Sweden Has a New Gender-Free Preschool. Is This the Way to Fight Bias?

One preschool in Sweden has banned the use of "him" and "her." Will this experiment bring us gender equality?

In keeping with Sweden's rep as the most evolved country ever, a preschool there is attempting to eliminate gender bias in the classroom by not using the words "him" or "her." At the taxpayer-funded Egalia preschool, teachers use the word "friend" and the recently invented Swedish gender-neutral pronoun "hen" instead. Lego bricks and building blocks are placed next to the toy kitchen, where all the kids play in harmony.


"Society expects girls to be girlie, nice and pretty and boys to be manly, rough and outgoing," the teacher told the AP. "Egalia gives them a fantastic opportunity to be whoever they want to be."

This news comes after the international freak-out over one Toronto couple who are raising their baby, Storm, without telling anyone the sex (naturally, the Swedes tried that first), not to mention the ludicrous hub-bub over Brad and Angie's genderbending daughter, Shiloh. So far, the world has not taken kindly to attempts to raise kids in a world free of gender expectations.

When I heard about the Toronto couple's gender-free child, I had mixed feelings about it. On one hand, the parents will theoretically give their baby a chance to choose its own gender based on how it feels, not on what's between its legs. On the other hand, raising a single genderless child amid a sea of pink and blue seems like a short-sighted way to fight gender bias. I could easily see the freedom to discover one's own gender identity being overshadowed by the kid being socially isolated or relentlessly teased. Also, the effort that goes into concealing a kid's gender from the rest of the world might, ironically, lead to an obsessive focus on gender in the kid's life.

This preschool, on the other hand, is making moves toward dissolving mandated gender roles in a community-based way, where the gender pressure is off en masse. It would make a child's process of gender identification seem normal and just another part of growing up. Given the hell that trans kids go through, that would be a huge improvement over our boys-against-girls mentality.

Still, I feel really torn about banning books like Cinderella and Snow White simply because they have deep gender stereotypes. My first impulse would be to read them alongside books with more progressive storylines, and then explain how the gender dynamics in Disney tales are fucked up. That way, the kids would be prepared to fight gender bias in the wider world after they leave the 33-kid utopia of Egalia preschool. Just like disingenuous "post-racial" rhetoric and wishful-thinking girl power, it's tough to fight against inequality when you pretend it doesn't exist.

Given the insane transphobia and enduring faith in gender roles in this country, it's doubtful that this experiment is coming our way any time soon. But if it's successful, maybe it'll turn the tide toward a less restrictive society, where we accept a spectrum of gender identities and the "battle of the sexes" isn't quite so ingrained in our daily lives.

photo (cc) by Flickr user kristin_a

Articles
via Douglas Muth / Flickr

Sin City is doing something good for its less fortunate citizens as well as those who've broken the law this month. The city of Las Vegas, Nevada will drop any parking ticket fines for those who make a donation to a local food bank.

A parking ticket can cost up to $100 in Las Vegas but the whole thing can be forgiven by bringing in non-perishable food items of equal or greater value to the Parking Services Offices at 500 S. Main Street through December 16.

The program is designed to help the less fortunate during the holidays.

Keep Reading Show less
Communities

For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
via Truthout.org / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
Photo by HAL9001 on Unsplash

The U.K. is trying to reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, but aviation may become the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.K. by that same year. A new study commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and conducted at the Imperial College London says that in order for the U.K. to reach its target, aviation can only see a 25% increase, and they've got a very specific recommendation on how to fix it: Curb frequent flyer programs.

Currently, air travel accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, however that number is projected to increase for several reasons. There's a growing demand for air travel, yet it's harder to decarbonize aviation. Electric cars are becoming more common. Electric planes, not so much. If things keep on going the way they are, flights in the U.K. should increase by 50%.

Nearly every airline in the world has a frequent flyer program. The programs offer perks, including free flights, if customers get a certain amount of points. According to the study, 70% of all flights from the U.K. are taken by 15% of the population, with many people taking additional (and arguably unnecessary) flights to "maintain their privileged traveler status."

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet