IMAGINE THERE’S NO GENDER…
What would it be like to live in a truly genderless society?
One where boys were named Lisa and girls were named Jack; all clothes were unisex; public toilets were not branded as “his” or “hers” and all sports were open to all sexes.
No “good morning, boys and girls” from teachers and no “welcome, ladies and gentlemen” at official functions.
The gender-neutral Egalia Preschool in Sweden.
Why? What would be the point, you may ask? Well, in Sweden, many think there is a point.
In Sweden – designated as the most gender-equal country in the world by the World Economic Forum in 2010 – there is a push for the nation to become gender-neutral.
That would mean that government and society would not tolerate any distinctions at all between the sexes.
Activists say that right down to pre-school level, boys and girls should be given “the same opportunities to test and develop abilities and interests without being limited by stereotypical gender roles”.
This Swedish toy catalog recently showed a boy in a Spiderman costume pushing a pink pram, while a girl in denim rides a yellow tractor.
It even means a new pronoun. Activists have proposed a gender-neutral personal pronoun – hen – instead of he, han in Swedish and she, hon.
And in what’s been seen as a triumph by some, this new pronoun was added to Sweden’s online version of the country’s National Encyclopedia.
But not everyone is keen.
Jan Guillou, one of Sweden’s most well-known authors, referred to proponents of hen as “feminist activists who want to destroy our language”.
A former equality expert at the Swedish Confederation of Professions, Elise Claeson has said that young children can become confused by the suggestion that there is a third, “in-between” gender at a time when their brains and bodies are developing.
“Adults should not interrupt children’s discovery of their gender and sexuality,” she said.
And yet, going gender-neutral would certainly allow any type of couple to marry, erase any disparities in pay rates between the sexes and open any institution to men and women alike.
So, over to you, Hooplarians.
Do you think a gender neutral society is a good idea? Is it even possible? Or is there still much joy to be had in the difference between the sexes?