Over the weekend, the New York Times ran a lengthy piece about the Seafarer’s Preschool in Stockholm, Sweden. The piece gushed about the school’s strategy for training pre-schoolers to avoid the strictures of gender identity. According to the Times, prior to the teachers’ intervention: “The boys were clamorous and physical. They shouted and hit. The girls held up their arms and whimpered to be picked up. The group of 1- and 2-year-olds had, in other words, split along traditional gender lines.”
The teachers, however, had been trained for just such a crisis. They “cleared the room of cars and dolls. They put the boys in charge of the play kitchen. They made the girls practice shouting ‘No!’”
None of this is atypical in Sweden, where many teachers refuse to refer to children with sex-specific pronouns and use instead a gender-neutral pronoun, “hen.” That’s because in centralized-government Sweden, “state curriculum urges teachers and principals to embrace their role as social engineers, requiring them to ‘counteract traditional gender roles and gender patterns.’”
“Science may still be divided over whether gender differences are rooted in biology or culture,” the Times sweet-talks, “but many of Sweden’s government-funded preschools are doing what they can to deconstruct them.”
All of this is, of course, the sheerest nonsense. The science is certainly not divided on whether gender differences are rooted in biology or culture — the answer is both, but with a heavy emphasis on biology. Even among monkeys, male adolescents prefer wheeled toys and females prefer dolls. Male toddlers are far more physically active than female toddlers. Boys generally have better spatial navigation than girls. Cross-culturally, boys are less dependent than girls, girls are slightly more sociable than boys, and boys are less compliant and more aggressive.
Boys, in other words, are different from girls.
But you already knew that if you’ve ever met a little boy or a little girl. My four-year-old girl loved buses and trucks when she was two. Without any prodding, she now refuses to wear anything but princess dresses. Her little brother, age two, runs around the house bonking things with sticks. If you hand him a doll, he will immediately try to smack a table with it.
Instead of recognizing the differences between boys and girls, however, leftist social engineers seek to confuse boys and girls by having them engage in activities in which they have no interest. Forcing small boys to massage each others’ feet — as the Swedish school does — does nothing but promote puzzlement among children. It certainly doesn’t teach little boys to become responsible men. It teaches them to become bizarre. And forcing small girls to open windows and scream out of them doesn’t teach them to become responsible women. It teaches them to behave like obnoxious brats. The Times tells the story of one girl whom teachers trained to scream at the top of her lungs when challenged (my four-year-old girl needs no training, it should be noted). When the girl was sent home, she was rude, messy, and loud. “The girl’s parents were less than delighted,” one teacher reported. But parents matter little here. The teacher calmly explained, “This is what we do here, and we are not going to stop it.”
Ironically, all of this idiocy is pursued in order to supposedly end gender stereotyping on behalf of advocates who say that gender is a social construct. But those same advocates will then proclaim that transgender children know that they are members of the opposite gender from childhood. So, which is it? Is gender biological, or socially created?
Such questions require no answers in the land of social leftism. All that matters is tearing away the old in search of the new, evidence be damned. None of this will end up erasing gender differences. It will merely end up suppressing them until they burst forth in unexpected ways. The Times casually acknowledges as much: “Exactly how this teaching method affects children is still unclear.” But again, who cares? Socially engineering children is far less of a problem for the social Left than allowing boys to be boys.