Sweden takes gender neutrality seriously

From a new genderless pronoun to a toy store ad of a boy pushing a pink pram

Neither he nor she


In Sweden the phrase “his and hers” isn’t just archaic or politically incorrect, it’s grammatically incorrect too. The country’s online National Encyclopedia was recently updated to include a third pronoun to accommodate the rising trend of gender neutrality in Sweden. The pronouns for “he” and “she” (in Swedish “han” and “hon”) are now joined by the genderless pronoun “hen.

But the change isn’t just linguistic. In 2010, the World Economic Forum declared Sweden the most gender-neutral country in the world, and gender neutrality is changing Swedish culture in profound ways. A children’s department store has dissolved its “girls” and “boys” sections, and a number of Swedish activists are lobbying for the right of parents to name their children across gender lines. “The idea,” writes author Nathalie Rothschild, “is that names should not be at all tied to gender, so it would be acceptable for parents to name a girl Jack or a boy Lisa.”

So far, the most jarring (or liberating) development in the gender-neutral cultural war is a photo in a popular Swedish toy catalogue depicting a little boy in a Spiderman costume posing daintily while he pushes a bright-pink pram. The poster child, perhaps, for the “hen” generation.

Filed under:

Sweden takes gender neutrality seriously

  1. How do you know it’s a boy pushing the baby carriage? It could be a girl. Now that’s a sexist remark. Spiderman costume = boy? Just an observation.

    • I believe Spiderman was a male.

      • SpiderMAN

        • er … spiderhen now, right?

  2. It looks as if their trying too hard–it just draws attention to the issue, I think. Just let kids do what they are drawn to, instead of forcing them into a gender neutral box.

    • To me that’s what this gender neutral stuff is for. It allows kids to do what they are drawn too and not the set ways of the past.

  3. What a bizarre article. “posing daintily”?! What about that pose is inherently dainty? The mere fact that it’s a pink carriage?

  4. This must be a set up a new reality show / contest: “The Planet’s most Vacuous Idea”.

  5. Haha this is retarded, i live in Sweden and nothing of this shit is close to being true.
    “In Sweden the phrase “his and hers” isn’t just archaic or politically incorrect” Yeah ok whatever you say.

  6. I wonder if anyone in Sweden’s decision-making class has examined whether gender neutrality is actually a good thing.

    • Why wouldn’t it be? Though yes I would like to see some studies on the effects.

  7. …It’s illegal to name a girl Jack in Sweden?