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Life without male and female, boys and girls, men and women. Just people....

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Sweden’s New Gender-Neutral Pronoun: Hen

A country tries to banish gender.

Leklust catalog, Sweden
Leklust catalog, Sweden

By most people’s standards, Sweden is a paradise for liberated women. It has the highest proportion of working women in the world, and women earn about two-thirds of all degrees. Standard parental leave runs at 480 days, and 60 of those days are reserved exclusively for dads, causing some to credit the country with forging the way for a new kind of nurturing masculinity. In 2010, the World Economic Forum designated Sweden as the most gender-equal country in the world.

But for many Swedes, gender equality is not enough. Many are pushing for the Nordic nation to be not simply gender-equal but gender-neutral. The idea is that the government and society should tolerate no distinctions at all between the sexes. This means on the narrow level that society should show sensitivity to people who don't identify themselves as either male or female, including allowing any type of couple to marry. But that’s the least radical part of the project. What many gender-neutral activists are after is a society that entirely erases traditional gender roles and stereotypes at even the most mundane levels.

Activists are lobbying for parents to be able to choose any name for their children (there are currently just 170 legally recognized unisex names in Sweden). The idea is that names should not be at all tied to gender, so it would be acceptable for parents to, say, name a girl Jack or a boy Lisa. A Swedish children's clothes company has removed the "boys" and "girls" sections in its stores, and the idea of dressing children in a gender-neutral manner has been widely discussed on parenting blogs. This Swedish toy catalog recently decided to switch things around, showing a boy in a Spider-Man costume pushing a pink pram, while a girl in denim rides a yellow tractor.

The Swedish Bowling Association has announced plans to merge male and female bowling tournaments in order to make the sport gender-neutral. Social Democrat politicians have proposed installing gender-neutral restrooms so that members of the public will not be compelled to categorize themselves as either ladies or gents. Several preschools have banished references to pupils' genders, instead referring to children by their first names or as "buddies." So, a teacher would say "good morning, buddies" or "good morning, Lisa, Tom, and Jack" rather than, "good morning, boys and girls." They believe this fulfills the national curriculum's guideline that preschools should "counteract traditional gender patterns and gender roles" and give girls and boys "the same opportunities to test and develop abilities and interests without being limited by stereotypical gender roles."

Earlier this month, the movement for gender neutrality reached a milestone: Just days after International Women's Day a new pronoun, hen (pronounced like the bird in English), was added to the online version of the country’s National Encyclopedia. The entry defines hen as a "proposed gender-neutral personal pronoun instead of he [han in Swedish] and she [hon]."The National Encyclopedia announcement came amid a heated debate about gender neutrality that has been raging in Swedish newspaper columns and TV studios and on parenting blogs and feminist websites. It was sparked by the publication of Sweden's first ever gender-neutral children's book, Kivi och Monsterhund (Kivi and Monsterdog). It tells the story of Kivi, who wants a dog for "hen's" birthday. The male author, Jesper Lundqvist, introduces several gender-neutral words in the book. For instance the words mammor and pappor (moms and dads) are replaced with mappor and pammor.

to read the rest:

http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2012/04/hen_sweden_s_new_gender_neutral_pronoun_causes_controversy_.html


by on May. 3, 2012 at 11:05 PM
Replies (41-50):
candlegal
by Judy on May. 4, 2012 at 10:21 AM

Have you noticed how clothing has gotten more neutral over the last 30 or 40 years.  A lot of the female clothing has gotten more masculine and a lot of men's clothing has gotten more feminine.    30 years ago you wouldn't catch a man in pink or yellow.  Now many carry man bags.  You wouldn't have seen a woman wearing a pants suit, they probably don't even call them that anymore, lol    Just a couple of examples

Quoting futureshock:


Quoting candlegal:

so do I and actually the U.S. has been working on this same thing for many years.  It is just happening slower here and hopefully won't be in my lifetime.

Quoting yourspecialkid:

 Well YUCK.  I liked being a girl and I like being a woman.  I enjoy being married to a man and I am very satisfied with my 2 perfect little boys. 

Why would people even consider doing this?  Males and females are vastly different and those differences compliment each other....two halves to make a whole..


What do you mean, could you give some examples?


singlemom1208
by on May. 4, 2012 at 10:22 AM
The idea of having legal and illegal names is a great example. Government control can't be a good thing.

Quoting futureshock:

What is scary about it?

Quoting singlemom1208:

That stuck out to me too. Socialism is a scary thing.



Quoting wickedfiress:

I don't have an issue with them removing the stereotypical imagery from advertisements, or removal of segregated shopping areas for clothing.

What struck me as odd is the part about having to "legally recognize" a name as 'gender neutral'.... so is there a law there stating that Michael is a boys name, and you can not name your daughter that? Or that Lisa is a girls name and you can't name your son that?  Unless it's one of the "legally recognized unisex" names?  What?


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Stephanie329
by Platinum Member on May. 4, 2012 at 10:46 AM
This was my reaction. Sweden is so progressive yet names have to be legally approved?

Quoting wickedfiress:

I don't have an issue with them removing the stereotypical imagery from advertisements, or removal of segregated shopping areas for clothing.

What struck me as odd is the part about having to "legally recognize" a name as 'gender neutral'.... so is there a law there stating that Michael is a boys name, and you can not name your daughter that? Or that Lisa is a girls name and you can't name your son that?  Unless it's one of the "legally recognized unisex" names?  What?

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Stephanie329
by Platinum Member on May. 4, 2012 at 10:49 AM
Yeah, Sweden is SO scary. The name thing is weird but that doesn't change the fact that it's a great country. They are doing something right. I bet there isn't much religious politicky there.

Quoting singlemom1208:

The idea of having legal and illegal names is a great example. Government control can't be a good thing.



Quoting futureshock:

What is scary about it?

Quoting singlemom1208:

That stuck out to me too. Socialism is a scary thing.





Quoting wickedfiress:

I don't have an issue with them removing the stereotypical imagery from advertisements, or removal of segregated shopping areas for clothing.

What struck me as odd is the part about having to "legally recognize" a name as 'gender neutral'.... so is there a law there stating that Michael is a boys name, and you can not name your daughter that? Or that Lisa is a girls name and you can't name your son that?  Unless it's one of the "legally recognized unisex" names?  What?


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EireLass
by Ruby Member on May. 4, 2012 at 10:51 AM
1 mom liked this

We use the word "shim"

Quoting futureshock:
Quoting EireLass:

Well, I have 6 hens, and none of them have penis', so that word isn't going to work here.

The word "hen" in this instance means just a person, not a "her" or a "him."  You know when you write about someone whose gender you don't know, sometimes a person will write "he/she"?  Now in Sweden they just write "hen".

Quote:

The entry defines hen as a "proposed gender-neutral personal pronoun instead of he [han in Swedish] and she [hon]."


lilblu399
by Bronze Member on May. 4, 2012 at 10:52 AM
1 mom liked this
I like the idea of gender neutral kids'toys and clothing. From what I have seen, gender plays a huge role, especially in those two sections for no real reason at all. Children should be able to pick what things they like without it just being advertised or place in a boy or girl section.

The bathroom thing, I guess it would be more like the family restrooms that more stores are having?
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futureshock
by Ruby Member on May. 4, 2012 at 10:53 AM


Quoting Stephanie329:

This was my reaction. Sweden is so progressive yet names have to be legally approved?

Quoting wickedfiress:

I don't have an issue with them removing the stereotypical imagery from advertisements, or removal of segregated shopping areas for clothing.

What struck me as odd is the part about having to "legally recognize" a name as 'gender neutral'.... so is there a law there stating that Michael is a boys name, and you can not name your daughter that? Or that Lisa is a girls name and you can't name your son that?  Unless it's one of the "legally recognized unisex" names?  What?


Quote:

Laws Against Baby Names

NamesNames
(Illustration by Barry Falls)

Parents in Sweden want to name their infant son Q. No, they say, not after the James Bond character who creates things like a watch that doubles as a remote detonator or bullet deflector; but just because that is what they have taken to calling the boy since birth.

Lower courts have ruled that the name does not comply with the 1982 Naming Law, a complex bit of legislation under which the names Lego and Google were approved in recent years, but Superman, Elvis and Metallica were not. (Also rejected, “Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116″ – pronounced Albin.)

The law was originally enacted because non-noble families were giving their children noble names, which is simply not O.K. So the legislature put the Swedish tax authority in charge, requiring that all names be registered there, and allowing some to be rejected on the grounds that they could “cause trouble” for children later in life.

(Not only has the authority taken to rejecting wild names and spellings, they also have prohibited couples from giving children the equivalent of two last names — either hyphenated or as a middle and surname. That’s a whole other story, which you can read here.)

Q’s parents appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court last week, right about the time that the U.S. Social Security Administration released its yearly list of the most popular American baby names. Emma was the number one name for girl’s last year, knocking Emily out of the top spot (where she sat for the past three years) and down to number three. The entire girl’s list is: Emma, Isabella, Emily, Madison, Ava, Olivia, Sophia, Abigail, Elizabeth, Chloe. And for boys: Jacob, Michael, Ethan, Joshua, Daniel, Alexander, Anthony, William, Christopher and Matthew.

There is no Q on the list. But that hardly means that American parents haven’t raised eyebrows over the years at what they have chosen to call their children. Notable celebrity examples: Penn Jillette naming his firstborn Moxie CrimeFighter and Nicolas Cage choosing Kal-El Coppola.

No court was involved in either of those, but when Deborah and Heath Campbell of Easton, Penn., tried to order a birthday cake from a local supermarket last year, Child Protective Services were called; the birthday boy was named Adolf Hitler Campbell (and his sisters were JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell and Honszlynn Himmler Jeannie Campbell).

Finally, there are the parents in New Zealand, who wanted to give their child a name that sums up what one would like to ask some of these parents about their choice of moniker. They fought to put the following on their son’s birth certificate: 4 Real.

Yep, for real.

http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/12/a-baby-boy-named-q/



futureshock
by Ruby Member on May. 4, 2012 at 11:02 AM
Quoting EireLass:

We use the word "shim"

Quoting futureshock:
Quoting EireLass:

Well, I have 6 hens, and none of them have penis', so that word isn't going to work here.

The word "hen" in this instance means just a person, not a "her" or a "him."  You know when you write about someone whose gender you don't know, sometimes a person will write "he/she"?  Now in Sweden they just write "hen".

Quote:

The entry defines hen as a "proposed gender-neutral personal pronoun instead of he [han in Swedish] and she [hon]."


lol! That's great.
Stephanie329
by Platinum Member on May. 4, 2012 at 11:04 AM
Oh my goodness. That is some craziness right there.

Albin? Out of that jumble of letters.


Quoting futureshock:


Quoting Stephanie329:

This was my reaction. Sweden is so progressive yet names have to be legally approved?



Quoting wickedfiress:

I don't have an issue with them removing the stereotypical imagery from advertisements, or removal of segregated shopping areas for clothing.

What struck me as odd is the part about having to "legally recognize" a name as 'gender neutral'.... so is there a law there stating that Michael is a boys name, and you can not name your daughter that? Or that Lisa is a girls name and you can't name your son that?  Unless it's one of the "legally recognized unisex" names?  What?



Quote:

Laws Against Baby Names



NamesNames
(Illustration by Barry Falls)

Parents in Sweden want to name their infant son Q. No, they say, not after the James Bond character who creates things like a watch that doubles as a remote detonator or bullet deflector; but just because that is what they have taken to calling the boy since birth.


Lower courts have ruled that the name does not comply with the 1982 Naming Law, a complex bit of legislation under which the names Lego and Google were approved in recent years, but Superman, Elvis and Metallica were not. (Also rejected, “Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116″ – pronounced Albin.)


The law was originally enacted because non-noble families were giving their children noble names, which is simply not O.K. So the legislature put the Swedish tax authority in charge, requiring that all names be registered there, and allowing some to be rejected on the grounds that they could “cause trouble” for children later in life.


(Not only has the authority taken to rejecting wild names and spellings, they also have prohibited couples from giving children the equivalent of two last names — either hyphenated or as a middle and surname. That’s a whole other story, which you can read here.)


Q’s parents appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court last week, right about the time that the U.S. Social Security Administration released its yearly list of the most popular American baby names. Emma was the number one name for girl’s last year, knocking Emily out of the top spot (where she sat for the past three years) and down to number three. The entire girl’s list is: Emma, Isabella, Emily, Madison, Ava, Olivia, Sophia, Abigail, Elizabeth, Chloe. And for boys: Jacob, Michael, Ethan, Joshua, Daniel, Alexander, Anthony, William, Christopher and Matthew.


There is no Q on the list. But that hardly means that American parents haven’t raised eyebrows over the years at what they have chosen to call their children. Notable celebrity examples: Penn Jillette naming his firstborn Moxie CrimeFighter and Nicolas Cage choosing Kal-El Coppola.


No court was involved in either of those, but when Deborah and Heath Campbell of Easton, Penn., tried to order a birthday cake from a local supermarket last year, Child Protective Services were called; the birthday boy was named Adolf Hitler Campbell (and his sisters were JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell and Honszlynn Himmler Jeannie Campbell).


Finally, there are the parents in New Zealand, who wanted to give their child a name that sums up what one would like to ask some of these parents about their choice of moniker. They fought to put the following on their son’s birth certificate: 4 Real.


Yep, for real.


http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/12/a-baby-boy-named-q/




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purpleducky
by Silver Member on May. 4, 2012 at 12:01 PM
1 mom liked this

My only problem with this is they are trying to eliminate genders by forcing androgyny or genderfluid onto everyone. I say andryogyny because they are stressing gender neutral but I also say genderfluid because they show a spiderman costume with a pink stroller, which is obviously switching between male and female. 

I think creating a new pronoun for genderneutral/androgynous individuals is great. But to eliminate all other genders in the process is not the way to do it.

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