Thursday, June 21, 2012

Intruct* (for Instruct*)

According to most schools of modern feminism, girls should be be allowed to play with both dolls and trucks (as the usual dichotomy would have it), but gently steered in the direction of trucks. The reasoning is that little girls are unfortunately steeped in traditional gender expectations from Day One and therefore might need a little guidance when it comes to diversifying. (Same thing with boys, but their particular brand of political incorrectness sometimes seems like a harder nut to crack.) Lately the long-liberated Swedes have really been taking this to heart, as well as to a somewhat alarming extreme, stolidly instructing their kids in "gender-neutral" ways. According to a recent story on Slate, Sweden has officially adopted a new pronoun known as hen (an alternative to han or hon, for use with either sex) and has just witnessed their first genderless children's book. Unisex names for Swedish babies are also flourishing these days, and stereotype-busting ads are now appearing in the service of children's games and toys. "Good morning, buddies" has replaced the outmoded "Good morning, boys and girls" in many classrooms; unconventional living arrangements are being encouraged in the playing of House; and toy cars have been removed from some schools because boys rated them more highly than other playthings. You get the rather stultifying, if instructive, idea. We discovered 40 cases of Intruct* in OhioLINK today, and 880 in WorldCat.

(Girl on front doorstep carrying a toy 'Life Savers' truck from The Powerhouse Museum, circa 1930-1950, courtesy of the Tom Lennon Collection and Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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