Monday, June 27, 2011

Swedish push to abolish sex distinctions hits mainstream media

I know I've been pushing this theme lately, but I thought it worthwhile noting that the mainstream media is starting to pick up on the efforts to abolish sex distinctions in Swedish schools.

Yahoo news is running a story on the "Egalia" preschool in Stockholm. At this preschool students are not addressed as boys and girls, nor are there books which show a traditional family with a father, mother and children. The staff don't use words like "him" and "her", having invented a gender neutral pronoun to refer to both sexes.

The reason for this social engineering? Predictably it's based on two aspects of liberalism. One of the preschool teachers says that Egalia allows students to 'be whoever they want to be'. That's the liberal idea that we should, as the highest aim in life, be autonomous and determine our own self. Our sex is not something we get to self-determine so it's looked on negatively as a limitation or a restriction on what we can choose.

But why then did sex distinctions exist in the past? Left-liberals answer that it was because one group in society, men, wanted to get an unearned privilege (more autonomy) at the expense of an oppressed group (women). Therefore, left-liberals also assume that sex distinctions are based on inequality and should be redistributed more evenly amongst girls and boys. Tanja Bergqvist, a Swedish blogger critical of the preschool policy, believes that,

Those bent on shattering gender roles "say there's a hierarchy where everything that boys do is given higher value"

The Swedish policy does allow for the idea that boys and girls have different anatomies. But that's it. For everything else, they are held to be the same. The director of the preschool believes that to be equal the sexes must be held to be the same:

What matters is that children understand that their biological differences "don't mean boys and girls have different interests and abilities," Rajalin says. "This is about democracy. About human equality."

A few observations. First, I'm not suggesting that ordinary Swedes are as committed to these ideas as the political class. The fault in Sweden is with the state ideology that is being imposed on children.

Second, note how radical the state ideology of liberalism is. In a previous post, I compared it to indoctrination with Marxism-Leninism during the communist period in Russia. But a reader who had been brought up in a communist school thought that indoctrination in Russia was not quite as extreme:

I have gone to school in Soviet Union in the 1980s and we had less indoctrination than that. At least ... they did not try to convince us that there were no sexual distinctions.

Third, note the importance of political ideas. Whatever the political class of a society adopts as the highest good is going to be gradually implemented as social policy. So political theories like liberalism need to be fiercely contested.

Fourth, Tanja Bergqvist shows what can be done with the independent media. She's an intelligent Swedish woman who runs a blog criticising Swedish gender policy. She's become something like the official opposition within Sweden and now she's even being quoted in the foreign media. Well done Tanja!

Here's the text of the yahoo article:

STOCKHOLM – At the "Egalia" preschool, staff avoid using words like "him" or "her" and address the 33 kids as "friends" rather than girls and boys.

From the color and placement of toys to the choice of books, every detail has been carefully planned to make sure the children don't fall into gender stereotypes.

"Society expects girls to be girlie, nice and pretty and boys to be manly, rough and outgoing," says Jenny Johnsson, a 31-year-old teacher. "Egalia gives them a fantastic opportunity to be whoever they want to be."

The taxpayer-funded preschool which opened last year in the liberal Sodermalm district of Stockholm for kids aged 1 to 6 is among the most radical examples of Sweden's efforts to engineer equality between the sexes from childhood onward.

Breaking down gender roles is a core mission in the national curriculum for preschools, underpinned by the theory that even in highly egalitarian-minded Sweden, society gives boys an unfair edge.

To even things out, many preschools have hired "gender pedagogues" to help staff identify language and behavior that risk reinforcing stereotypes.

Some parents worry things have gone too far. An obsession with obliterating gender roles, they say, could make the children confused and ill-prepared to face the world outside kindergarten.

"Different gender roles aren't problematic as long as they are equally valued," says Tanja Bergkvist, a 37-year-old blogger and a leading voice against what she calls "gender madness" in Sweden.

Those bent on shattering gender roles "say there's a hierarchy where everything that boys do is given higher value, but I wonder who decides that it has higher value," she says. "Why is there higher value in playing with cars?"

At Egalia — the title connotes "equality" — boys and girls play together with a toy kitchen, waving plastic utensils and pretending to cook. One boy hides inside the toy stove, his head popping out through a hole.

Lego bricks and other building blocks are intentionally placed next to the kitchen, to make sure the children draw no mental barriers between cooking and construction.

Director Lotta Rajalin notes that Egalia places a special emphasis on fostering an environment tolerant of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. From a bookcase, she pulls out a story about two male giraffes who are sad to be childless — until they come across an abandoned crocodile egg.

Nearly all the children's books deal with homosexual couples, single parents or adopted children. There are no "Snow White," "Cinderella" or other classic fairy tales seen as cementing stereotypes.

Rajalin, 52, says the staff also try to help the children discover new ideas when they play.

"A concrete example could be when they're playing 'house' and the role of the mom already is taken and they start to squabble," she says. "Then we suggest two moms or three moms and so on."

Egalia's methods are controversial; some say they amount to mind control. Rajalin says the staff have received threats from racists apparently upset about the preschool's use of black dolls.

But she says that there's a long waiting list for admission to Egalia, and that only one couple has pulled a child out of the school.

Jukka Korpi, 44, says he and his wife chose Egalia "to give our children all the possibilities based on who they are and not on their gender."

Sweden has promoted women's rights for decades, and more recently was a pioneer among European countries in allowing gay and lesbian couples to legalize their partnerships and adopt children.

Gender studies permeate academic life in Sweden. Bergkvist noted on her blog that the state-funded Swedish Science Council had granted $80,000 for a postdoctoral fellowship aimed at analyzing "the trumpet as a symbol of gender."

Jay Belsky, a child psychologist at the University of California, Davis, said he's not aware of any other school like Egalia, and he questioned whether it was the right way to go.

"The kind of things that boys like to do — run around and turn sticks into swords — will soon be disapproved of," he said. "So gender neutrality at its worst is emasculating maleness."

Egalia is unusual even for Sweden. Staff try to shed masculine and feminine references from their speech, including the pronouns him or her — "han" or "hon" in Swedish. Instead, they've have adopted the genderless "hen," a word that doesn't exist in Swedish but is used in some feminist and gay circles.

"We use the word "Hen" for example when a doctor, police, electrician or plumber or such is coming to the kindergarten," Rajalin says. "We don't know if it's a he or a she so we just say 'Hen is coming around 2 p.m.' Then the children can imagine both a man or a woman. This widens their view."

Egalia doesn't deny the biological differences between boys and girls — the dolls the children play with are anatomically correct.

What matters is that children understand that their biological differences "don't mean boys and girls have different interests and abilities," Rajalin says. "This is about democracy. About human equality."

22 comments:

  1. These people are flat-out weird. Typical socialist ideology.

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  2. Almost a done deal anyway. My mate from Poland says they refer to Swedes - in less polite circles, perhaps - as Oxen.

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  3. Mark, what you call "liberalism" is probably better described as cultural marxism. Soviet Union in the beginning of its existance adopted it, but later switched to the economical marxism, thus the indoctrination at Soviet schools was more along those lines.

    The West, on the other hand, while staying pretty much capitalistic despite the welfare state, has adopted cutural marxism/trotskyism, hence the indoctrination along those lines.

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  4. Anon, I disagree.

    I don't discount the influence of Marxism and I do think there are differences between leftist and classical forms of liberalism.

    But liberalism is fast reaching the point at which it is making Marxism seem tame as far as radical ideologies go. Or, to put this another way, although liberalism is not as violent or overtly repressive as Marxism, it is nonetheless fast becoming the most radical form of modernism that we have so far witnessed.

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  5. Browsed the comments at the Yahoo! article and it's a mish-mash of "Liberalism is wrong, equality doesn't exist, differences are real" (clear rejection) and "I'm a liberal or believe in equality and this is taking too far" (aka core liberal but 'compromise' with some conservative aspects).

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  6. "... there are differences between leftist and classical forms of liberalism..."

    I don't disagree that modern liberalism is destructive. It's just as you yourself have pointed out, the classical form of liberalism was different from what we call liberalism today. Modern so-called liberalism is in any case heavily influenced by cultural marxism if not a form of it directly.

    While everybody remembers the economical ideas of Marx they tend to forget that Marx wanted to create an utopian matriarchal society where children would be raised by the state and where the traditional family would disappear with men and women pursuing whatever way they choose.

    In the first years after the revolution in Russia those who came to power were quite libertine, they quickly legalised abortion, encouraged free love/sex, introduced welfare for sinle mothers, etc. Economically, they allowed free enterprise to some degree.

    Later, when Stalin won over the opposition he switched to the economical marxism, while adopting certain socially conservative policies (making homosexual relations illegal etc).

    Also check the Frankfurt School of Marxism, they seemed to influence modern liberals quite a lot.

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  7. "Then we suggest two moms or three moms and so on"
    Kids generally don't respond to this. The whole fun of playing mom is that you get to boss everyone else around. Not particular egalitary.

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  8. The statement is made in the article that when boys play with cars and girls play with a toy kitchen, that the playing with cars is valued more highly. By whom? Can this statement be supported? In your whole life, did you ever get the impression that typical boys' play was valued more highly than girls' play? I never had that impression as a boy decades ago.

    This kind of statement betrays an inferiority complex on the part of feminist women. They assume that everyone is thinking less highly of them because they are female, even in situations such as children's play where there is no evidence at all that this is the case.

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  9. "I don't disagree that modern liberalism is destructive. It's just as you yourself have pointed out, the classical form of liberalism was different from what we call liberalism today. Modern so-called liberalism is in any case heavily influenced by cultural marxism if not a form of it directly."

    The first article of the quintessential liberal document, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen (the constitution of revolutionary France) states that:
    "Men (human beings) are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be founded only upon the general good."

    For the staff of the 'Egalia' preschool, gender is a social distinction that is not founded on the common good, but is a construct that is used to support social hierarchies, and restricts our ability to live truly free and liberated lives. Their liberal ideology therefore drives them to do what they can to eliminate gender.

    “While everybody remembers the economical ideas of Marx they tend to forget that Marx wanted to create an utopian matriarchal society…”

    Do you have any evidence for this fanciful claim? From my own admittedly limited readings of Marx I haven’t come across a call for a matriarchal society.

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  10. Check the book written by Marx and his friend Engels called "The Origings of the Family, Private Property and State"

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  11. Swedish also write nice children's books. Here is the link to a blog which discusses a couple of the books written by a Swedish authoress for the education of little children. The text is in Russian but the pictures will make it easy to understand for everyone.
    Warning: graphic images, pornography, nudity.

    http://english-drawing-room.blogspot.com/2011/05/blog-post_04.html

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  12. Anti Liberal, here is the link to a rather longish blogpost dealing with your question.

    http://no-maam.blogspot.com/2007/01/from-comments.html

    Here is an excerpt if you don't care to read the whole:

    (cont)

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  13. cont from the previous comment

    In the 1840's, Marx concocted this bizarre theory: Since working men were oppressed by capitalist economies, then women were doubly-victimized by the effects of capitalism and patriarchy.
    .
    This is how Karl Marx and Frederick Engels explained it in their 1848 Communist Manifesto: "What is the present family based on? On capitalism, the acquisition of private property... The bourgeois sees in his wife nothing but production."
    .
    In his 1884 book, The Origin of the Family, Engels elaborated on the theme of patriarchal oppression:
    .
    "The overthrow of mother was the world historical defeat of the female sex. The man took control in the home also; the woman was degraded and reduced to servitude; she became the slave of his lust and a mere instrument for the production of children."

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  14. Anon,

    I tend to see Marxism as a form of modernism that is related to (or overlaps with) left-liberalism as a form of modernism. Exactly where the lines of demarcation and influence lie is something that can be debated. I'll sit down and try to write some comments on this tonight when I have more time.

    Elizabeth, nice comment about the Yahoo comments. I went and had a look myself. Wow! 1200 comments! And nearly all of them expressing strong disapproval. In a way, it's heartening. It's the voice of the common man raised against what's happening in society. But at some point this expression of disapproval has to become either more organised or more politically focused. Otherwise, in 20 years who knows? Liberals might have succeeded in making Egalia kindergartens the norm.

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  15. But at some point this expression of disapproval has to become either more organised or more politically focused.

    In the next few years I will start a project that will involve many conservative collaborators --- http://alcestiseshtemoa.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/i-have-been-inspired-by-mark-tully-from-restorus/

    I think it will be better to schedule a lot of physical meetings or cyber meetings but in a way that the content is physically printed yet also converted to virtual format.

    If we as a whole cannot complete it in our lifetimes I will pass it on to our children.

    And while opposing a lot of liberal philosophies hopefully it will morph into a traditional conservative organization divided into three sections yet working towards the common goal: Biological/Natural Sector, Social/Cultural Sector and Transcendental/Spiritual Sector. (Kind of like man: Body, Soul/Mind and Spirit.)

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  16. Brett_McS said...

    "My mate from Poland says they refer to Swedes - in less polite circles, perhaps - as Oxen."

    There are different descriptors with similar meanings for Swedes used by people I have met from Denmark and Finland. I have heard it is true for Norway as well.

    The Swedes spent a large chunk of it's history at war with or occupying all of the above [plus the Russians and northern German states].

    To see the former conquerers and warmongers of the Baltic turn into sissies must be perplexing for the Swedes neighbours.

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  17. In our country too. The article was a bit glorifying. The comments were not at all. And I remember one commenter who cited Aristotle:
    "Tolerance and apathy are the last virtues of a dying society".
    I wanted to add that this is valid for the western civ. as a whole but I was not registered there, so I am writing it here :).

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  18. Hopefully, the ironclad Law of Adolescent Response to Bullshit will rear its head in 10-15 years, and all these Egalia grads will turn into socially traditional Swedish nationalists... as their aging masters can only point and sputter.

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  19. "But why then did sex distinctions exist in the past? Left-liberals answer that it was because one group in society, ..."

    And the very answer is a self-contradiction. Not that leftists care about so mundane a thing as consistency.

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  20. Gender specifications are advanced features according to the evolution. Before doing stupid things like gender neutralizing, they must re investigate the facts of hominid evolution. Gender neutralizing finally leads to complicate the sex desires and it is for growing up homosexuality and bisexuality.

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  21. If Sweden were wiped clean by a hot blast of divine wrath, I am reckless enough to think it would be an improvement. Yet Sweden remains; perhaps that is divine wrath on the rest of us?

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  22. Conservative political activists need to start labelling these sort of fools as what they are: child abusers.

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