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Gender neutrality 'hen'

(50 Posts)
thatbags Tue 30-Sep-14 10:22:53

from Swedish nursery schools.

Thistledoo Tue 30-Sep-14 10:50:10

Interesting. Did anyone watch the Horizon program on BBC 2 last night. Some very interesting experiments. Are male and female brains wired differently. Michael Mosley and Alice Roberts seek to answer in this documentary, in which they confront stereotypes and test the latest controversial scientific research.

henetha Tue 30-Sep-14 11:11:28

I recorded it and haven't watched it yet, but will.. The Swedish nursery thing is particularly fascinating to me as my nickname is, and always has been, hen. I am definitely gender specific, being female.
This sort of gender neutrality thing has been tried in the past, I think, and generally fails because natural tendencies always prevail from an early age.
I cannot really see the point in gender neutrality amongst children.

jinglbellsfrocks Tue 30-Sep-14 11:34:49

So, are all the children referred to as "hens"? A ^little bit odd! Do the Swedes know it means a female chicken?

The Horizon prog was quite interesting. Amazing how the monkeys were determined to be gender specific. grin (that's got to tell us something)

TriciaF Tue 30-Sep-14 11:35:06

I always thought "hen" was Scottish for "hinny" ie "honey".
All can apply to males and females.

Starling Tue 30-Sep-14 16:10:25

They are using it as a Swedish pronoun. I have read a book where "person" is used instead of he and she. After a while you get used to it. I think it does open up options. I also agree with not colour-coding toys as pink and blue. I think all children should be allowed to cuddle dolls and use Lego and so on.

jinglbellsfrocks Tue 30-Sep-14 16:25:48

Ah! So they have "hen's" toys, rather than 'boys' or girls'?

And at lunchtime the teachers say, "come along little hens. Come and wash your hands".



jinglbellsfrocks Tue 30-Sep-14 16:26:26

I might be missing something here.

Ana Tue 30-Sep-14 16:36:01

Presumably most of them have first names that indicate their gender?

I think I'm missing something here, too.

Starling Tue 30-Sep-14 17:02:01

I don't know what the Swedish is for he or she but this is instead of he or she.
It doesn't mean hen in Swedish. The Swedish for hen is hona.

janerowena Tue 30-Sep-14 17:24:22

I speak a little. It's hon (she) and han (he) in Swedish, and as I understand it 'hen' was thought to be a good mix of the two. When I was told of it a few months ago, I thought it would be a lot of bother, in the same way that Ms. never quite took off as a substitute for Miss and Mrs.

I can see that the area in which it would be of most use is for job applications, even though Sweden is very good about sexual equality, it does still give men a slight edge. The idea is for all titles to be abolished eventually, no Mr and Mrs, just initial and surname.

Nelliemoser Tue 30-Sep-14 17:30:53

Thistledoo I am looking forward to seeing that. Maybe by Thursday evening I will get a chance to catch up.

Henetha The children will play with what they want to.
The problem is though the shops label toys as for girls or boys and promote them as for a particular gender by the packaging.

Why not show Lego and cars as being for either gender. The advert for Lego on TV a couple of years ago was subtly promoted as toys for Dad's and boys to bond over. Why not show that girls can enjoy playing with this without it being though boyish. and vice versa. Wher it is worse is that a boy would be more likely to be called "Gay" or some parents still would worry that playing with Dolls might make him so.

My just two yr old DGS is now the proud owner of an Ikea children's kitchen and he loves it.

Let's go for non gender specific toys in the UK.

I never forget my neighbours comment in about 1979 that her DD was never going to have a train set.
My father bought my older sister one back in the late 40s or early 50s. and she had a Bako building set of which I was very jealous. I had a chemistry set one Christmas. Sheer joy but it had a picture of a boy on the front.

thatbags Tue 30-Sep-14 19:25:45

Sounds good to me, janer and starling. Beats me why we haven't already abolished "titles". Go, the Swedes!

Ana Tue 30-Sep-14 19:44:04

Perhaps we should only have gender-neutral names for children? Or start naming boys Susan or Jennifer, and girls Kevin or Harold?

I really can't see the point of using one neutral word for 'him', 'her', 'his' or 'hers' etc.

I agree with the point about children's toys, although both sexes tend to gravitate on the whole towards the traditional, left to their own devices.

TriciaF Tue 30-Sep-14 20:16:03

To complicate things more, I've just remembered that "hen" is 3rd person plural (fem) in hebrew. wink

Maggiemaybe Tue 30-Sep-14 20:44:57

I'm not sure on this one - surely they're just advocating calling children it instead of he or she, which seems a bit cruel. I can understand the reasoning behind it, but don't think it will make a blind bit of difference. Surely even a child with a gender-neutral name brought up by the sort of parents who buy toys strictly according to gender is still going to have a sexist upbringing? There are some distinctly odd gender-neutral names amongst sleb children that won't stop the girls being raised as little princesses (ugh) and the boys as mini machos.

I was lucky - and unusual - in that I was always bought construction toys along with the dolls, and I always made sure that my two daughters had lots of the same. I loved my Bako, Nelliemoser! My eldest got a Fisher Price garage for her second birthday and both my girls loved it. My son, being the youngest, was surrounded by both "boys'" and "girls'" toys by default. Both my GS play with toy kitchens and the like. I certainly don't deny that there are differences on the whole with how boys and girls use their toys, but I hate to see them labelled for one gender or the other, and think addressing that issue is so much more important than what pronoun we use to address a child. Did the specifically labelled "boy" and "girl" aisles in toy shops actually happen back in the '80s, as I don't recall it?

durhamjen Tue 30-Sep-14 21:17:47

Some people in Germany have suggested that they abandon using der and die which are gendered and use das all the time for nouns.
Purists object.
I think we do it here by saying their instead of his/her but I think it's possibly just laziness here. I do not think it was gender based.

jinglbellsfrocks Tue 30-Sep-14 21:39:58

I think there are going to be an awful lot of mixed up kids in the world. It sounds to me like social engineering.

Starling Tue 30-Sep-14 21:51:43

Aren't there already a lot of mixed up kids? I heard a mother telling a little boy he couldn't push a dolls pram.

thatbags Tue 30-Sep-14 21:56:26

Quite. Well said again, starling.

I'm wondering how many people have actually read the article I linked to? There's nothing threatening or weird about it at all that I can see. It's just an attempt to stop unnecessary stereotyping gender divisions. That's not the same as not acknowledging genders at all.

thatbags Tue 30-Sep-14 21:58:04

Now you can argue about what counts as unnecessary wink

There are quite a lot of genderless names already—well, ones that can be used for either males or females. Doesn't seem to cause much of a problem.

Ana Tue 30-Sep-14 22:15:42

Of course there are, and no, it doesn't cause a problem because usually the gender of the child is obvious.

I did read the article, and still can't understand the point of the 'hen' substitute. I don't think it weird or threatening - just don't get it.

Perhaps you could explain it better than the article, bags.

jinglbellsfrocks Tue 30-Sep-14 22:27:24

Just let the kids go whichever way they want to. Stop flippin' interfering! Leave them alone!

jinglbellsfrocks Tue 30-Sep-14 22:29:05

And imagine having to go all the way round Toys r us to get what you want! hmm

jinglbellsfrocks Tue 30-Sep-14 22:30:10

Keep the girls' and boys' sections. ^ Please^!