Saturday, April 21, 2012

We're going down the Swedish path

It seems as if Australia is going to follow Sweden in insisting on "gender neutral" childhoods. In the Herald Sun this morning we learn that Australian toy catalogues are copying the Swedish example in making children's play androgynous:
TOY catalogues are increasingly gender neutral, reversing years of tradition between boys' and girls' playthings.

Toy catalogues feature boys playing with pink doll houses while girls play with trucks and robots.

Child rearing experts have applauded the move, which they say is a more realistic representation of how preschoolers play.

Sweden is leading the way to gender neutral. Swedish company Leklust recently featured a child dressed as Spiderman pushing a pink doll's pram.

I posted on the Swedish spiderman story earlier this month. Kaj Wiberg, the CEO of the company which produced the toy catologue, justified having a boy dressed as Spiderman pushing a pram on the grounds that "Gender roles are an outdated thing".

And how is the same thing being justified in Australia? One academic has this to say:
Paul Harrison, lecturer in consumer behaviour at Deakin University, said young children had no concept of gender.

"But for adults, from the moment a child is conceived, we start defining them by whether they are male or female," he said.

That's the liberal view: we are born as blank slates and the primary aim is to then self-define who we are rather than being predefined or other-defined.

I don't know if Paul Harrison has children or not, but it hasn't been my experience that young children have no concept of gender. Both my son and my daughter showed obvious signs of masculine and feminine behaviour by about the age of 6 months, i.e. early enough for it to be difficult to be produced by socialisation alone.

The gender neutral toy catalogue was also defended by a child psychologist on these grounds:
Child psychologist Sally-Anne McCormack said all toys were gender neutral and it was society that linked them with a gender role.

"Rather than telling little girls and little boys what they can play with, parents should let them decide," she said.

"This is not about being politically correct. It's about letting children experiment ... our role as parents is to facilitate our children becoming the people they want to be by letting them explore as much as possible."

Here again we have the typically liberal idea that sex distinctions are created by society alone - that they are socially constructed. And the psychologist also pushes the liberal idea that it is individual preference or desire that creates who we are, rather than any higher standards external to us.

Is it good advice to simply let your child choose to be whatever? Mostly not. It's true that you have to take your child's personality, talents and interests into account in your efforts to socialise them to become successful adults.

But boys need to be masculine. That's even more true in today's society when there are so many reasons for men to become demoralised. A man who doesn't have a strong masculine core is likely to give up in some way - perhaps he won't attempt to compete for women, or won't embark on the rigors of career.

That's one reason why the average parent does still encourage distinct forms of play when it comes to their young children. They don't want to raise up insipid sons - and why would they?


  1. How can these people push simultaneously the meme that gender roles is all a social construct while championing their supposedly individual tastes on a mass scale (also a social push) where boys do girly things and girls do boyish things? It seems more like reversal of gender roles or androgyny (e.g. neutralization), rather than role expansion. The true question is why there is no major "expansion" (e.g. having both the same time). I believe it is because the "have it all" meme of feminists has been a failure. Men have masculine essences and women have feminine essences whether we like it or not. An effimate man will never be a woman and a boyish woman will never be a man. This "mutilation" experiment is going to end badly.

  2. "It's about letting children experiment ... our role as parents is to facilitate our children becoming the people they want to be by letting them explore as much as possible."

    There is no sense at all in this female autonomist's mind that in the eyes of the healthy-minded this line of thinking appears to be motivated by pure perverion.

    Boys "experimenting" with girl toys and girls getting to "explore" as many boy toys as possible.

    It's literally absurd, but figuratively foreshadowing and diabolically motivated.

    Radical autonomy, Mr. Richardson. SELF-annihilators.

  3. Unfortunately this issue of gender neutral toys is also alive in the U.S. Seems that some feminists don't like the Lego toys for girls.

  4. Absolute bullsh*t. Children are very aware of gender from an early age. Even before knowing there are boys and girls, toddlers naturally play with gender specific toys... or in the absence of them they play with toys in a gender specific pattern (boys tend to rip the heads off dolls for instance :-( )