Is Gender Neutral the New Colorblind?

Faithful reader and friend, Em Em Li, has asked Moxie to comment on the NYT article where a pre-school in Sweden has become famous for referring to students as “friends” rather than using gendered pronouns. They’ve even created a word, “hen,” as a gender-neutral personal pronoun.Read it here.

Swedish School’s Big Lesson Begins With Dropping Personal Pronouns

Moxie’s 2 cents:  While the school’s motivation stems from trying to boldly break gender stereotypes, it is problematic to refuse to acknowledge that gender and sex do exist, matter, and shape who we are.  The harder question we need to ask is, “what do people who have the same gender have in common?” It comes back to the issue of equality vs. difference that gender scholars have been debating for decades. If we know men and women are not the same, but we think they are equal, how does that play out? The answer? No one knows; it’s complicated. But we need to keep asking the question, not moving toward a “post-gender” society.

It sounds like this school is asserting that men and women, male and female, are just the same. I appreciate their desertion of texts such Beauty and the Beast (which I just found out is the spring play at my school–yikes), and adding stories where women play many roles, men are sensitive, families are complex, and the hero is deconstructed. We need more, much more of that to broaden our narrative of what men and women are like. But in these stories, there ARE men AND women. To say that gender doesn’t matter does violence to both genders. I fear that being gender neutral is akin to being color blind. It’s not possible, nor is it constructive to pretend to not notice someone’s race. I would argue the same is true for gender. What do you think, Em Em?

For further reading check out these related articles

What’s Wrong with this Picture?


The past two weeks, the girls in the Diversity Club and I have been discussing Disney characters and how they portray women and minorities. Today we watched a portion of a video, Mickey Mouse Monopoly. It was amazing to see over and over how seductively female characters, even animals, are displayed. Batting eyelashes, disproportionate waists, revealing clothing are just the beginning.

Scene: Beauty’s family is ripped apart and she endures verbal abuse by the Beast until finally she uses her “sweetness” to draw out his softer side. They fall in love.

Message: Stay with the man even when he hurts you. Just keep being nice until he changes.

Scene: Jasmine uses her feminine wiles to overcome the villain and allow Aladdin to escape.

Message: Seduce a man to get what you want.

What are we teaching our children? They do not have the capacity to discern for themselves. The girls in my room today were appropriately appalled and eager to learn more. Is it too late for these twelve and thirteen year olds? They are years beyond the Disney phase, but Disney is everywhere. What do we do?

World Cultures is…

After an activity where students practiced teaching each other key concepts for the first time, I had them debrief. Just for fun, I threw in a wild card. Here are a few of their responses to “World Cultures is…”

World Cultures is fun, confusing, and awesome!

World Cultures is one of my favorite classes, My world cultures teacher is my favorite, is a hard subject that I don’t fully understand.

World cultures is something that I look forward to in a day and I learn a a lot of new material.

World Cultures is tons of fun and I really like how she teaches and that she only gives homework if necessary.

A place were you further expand your knowledge of the word and use it in everyday problems. Plus you learn more about real things like the world. It is different from math I love math , but it is so different you use it everyday.

World cultures is a good way for me to learn about what our world is like, not just where things are, but that too.

World Cultures is challenging but I get AH HA moments sometimes when I actually get it.

World cultures is interesting because you get to discuss things instead of listening to the teacher all day.

World cultures is BALLER

World Cultures is fun and exciting. I learn something new everyday and Mrs. [Moxie] will help me understand things that are complicated for me.

World Cultures is really interesting and fun. It is very hard, and easy at the same time, I can rely on this subject for very little, or no homework at all. It is awesome, and very interactive, and you do not know what is going to happen next.

World Cultures is open-minding and brain-bending. It makes me think about things I wouldn’t think about.

Eve Ensler: Dear Mr. Akin

Eve Ensler: Dear Mr. Akin

Since the “misspeaking” of Todd Akin this week, I’ve been thinking a lot about the things we say when we “misspeak.” When we say something harsh off the cuff, are we really just saying what we truly mean? When Akin used the word “legitimate” to describe rape, he made it hard for us to believe he had been involved in crisis pregnancy centers for many years. In all of the media coverage, I found this letter particularly moving. It is a bit graphic, but powerful. I don’t agree with her leap that all in the GOP believe what he communicated, but her words give an interesting perspective from a rape victim. Here’s an excerpt.

You used the expression “legitimate” rape as if to imply there were such a thing as “illegitimate” rape. Let me try to explain to you what that does to the minds, hearts and souls of the millions of women on this planet who experience rape. It is a form of re-rape. The underlying assumption of your statement is that women and their experiences are not to be trusted. That their understanding of rape must be qualified by some higher, wiser authority. It delegitimizes and undermines and belittles the horror, invasion, desecration they experienced. It makes them feel as alone and powerless as they did at the moment of rape.

Housewiffery (that’s wiff as in swift)

So how does Moxie fare as a housewife? It comes more naturally than originally anticipated. I’m not sure how to feel about that. I found myself vacuuming while baking birthday cookies last week. It was a confusing time. However, cooking for two has been fun; especially when I’m not the one making the grocery runs!

On the menu this week:

Breakfast: Spinach-Goat cheese frittata


Lunch: Cucumber Avocado Soup


Dinner: Corn Tacos


Snack: Rice Cake with PB, loose coconut, and crasins


However, school starts this week…we’ll be back to Willy’s soon enough…

*all recipes courtesy of realsimple