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

Art Journaling and Hope

Hope begins when the memory of what was becomes a longing for what is to be restored

–Jan Myers The Allure of Hope 

This morning, I “art journaled” for the second time. I think two years ago, I would have scoffed at this concept. These days I’m a bit more open to cheesy things. Just a bit. Still mostly closed. I’m a words person. When I go to an art museum, I find myself busy reading the descriptions on the side rather than taking in the visuals. I want to stretch myself to think and express myself in images.

We often hear people say, “I’m just not creative.” I have probably said that many times in my life. But in fact, I’m creating things all the time; teaching is a beautiful form of creation.

What’s cool about art journaling besides the product is the process. In a room full of others working on their own images, we get ideas and work with others to move in and through our own hearts. Part of me wanted to be alone in a room with lots of paints and supplies, but I soon began to see the beauty having others around to help me when I was stuck, to show me techniques, to think through the deeper significance of a simple image. It speaks to my tendency to hole up inside myself and work alone, and it encourages me to move out in faith with others.

See my first attempt below.

Pretty good for a “non artsy fartsy” person, right? What do you think it means?  I’d actually like to know…

The Problem with Stereotypes

“The problem with stereotypes is not that they are WRONG, it’s that they are incomplete.”

Chimamanda Adichie


Watch her amazing insight into the “Danger of a Single Story.” This is quite possibly the best Ted Talk I’ve seen. Got twenty minutes? You won’t be disappointed. She talks about how we limit a group of people by portraying them in only one way, with only one story. It’s the easiest way to dispossess a people. It’s the easiest way to gain power over them. Check it out.


I’ll admit it. I’m a postmodernist. I’m not ashamed. But it’s so hard to really put your finger on a definition. I guess that’s kind of the point…

Here’s a definition I came across today by an ex-colleague of mine who I will dearly miss. I can get behind this.

PoMo: Post Modern  

An adjective that describes something as being endowed with qualities from the school of philosophy, art, music, or literature that follows modernism and is committed to challenging grand narratives, critiquing essentialism, playing with form, celebrating the subjective, and acknowledging the power and primacy of media as a defining human reality.