A feature in the New York Times this week highlighted a Swedish preschool trend that involves teachers ignoring the gender of their children in the classroom.
New York Times writer Ellen Barry examined a popular trend in Swedish preschools that involves subtly teaching children that gender is a social construct. How is this accomplished? Unlike noble progressive efforts to encourage young boys and girls to participate in the whatever activity they enjoyed they most, these preschools have taken a different path. As a part of a “compensatory gender strategy,” boys and girls are separated for part of the day and made to participate in activities that are traditionally associated with the opposite gender. The boys are asked to massage each other’s feet. The girls were made to walk outside, barefoot in the snow.
The “compensatory gender strategy” doesn’t end there. Teachers “correct” students when they display gender stereotypes in their art.
“When we are drawing,” said Melisa Esteka, 31, one of the teachers, “we see that the girls — they draw a lot — they draw girls with lots of makeup and long eyelashes. It’s very clear that they are girls. We ask, ‘Don’t boys have eyelashes?’ And they say, ‘We know it is not like that in real life.’”
The ultimate goal of those behind the efforts to wipe the notion of gender from Swedish society is to stop young people from thinking of the world in terms of gender.
She had set a goal for herself: To stop the children from identifying things as “for girls” or “for boys.” But lately, her students were absorbing stereotypes from billboards and cartoons, and sometimes it seemed like all the slow, systematic work of the Seafarer’s Preschool was flying away overnight.
Swedish columnist Tanja Bergkvist argues that many Swedes are against this form of gender indoctrination. However, they stay quiet. “They don’t want to be regarded as against equality,” she said. “Nobody wants to be against equality.”
In July 2017, Breitbart News reported on a VICE documentary that examined this emerging Swedish practice.
In the absence of a complete hormonal transition, the most radical form of gender expression possible is gender dissidence, meaning a comprehensive personal rejection of the aspects of gender that are truly social. These aspects may include fashion and hair style, personal pronouns, hobbies and interests, etc.
But research that was recently published in Stanford University’s Magazine on Medicine reminds us that nature limits our ability to act creatively with our gender expression. In an article on the difference in the male and female brain, author Bruce Goldman highlights the innate biological differences that lead to the development of recognizable behavior patterns in males and females.
Goldman points to research on rhesus monkeys, which revealed that to a significant degree that there are real differences in the wiring of male and female brains. In the study, male monkeys strongly preferred toys with wheels, while female monkeys gravitated towards soft, plush, toys. Goldman argues that because these monkeys weren’t molded by their parents or simian society to enjoy specific toys, their interests were shaped, in part, by the gendered nature of their brains.