What it’s like
My roommate and best friend works at a pizza shop around the corner from our house. She graduated college last year and needs money, and she feels lucky to have a job.
One of her (married, with baby) managers mistakenly got the impression from her that she was interested in dating or hooking up with him. They were fine with each other up until this point. When she (politely) set the record straight with him, he began verbally abusing her whenever they work together—which is about 35 hours a week. He yells at her constantly, berates her in front of customers, accuses her of doing things that had nothing to do with her (like breaking the computer, restarting the cash register, etc) and tells her stop doing perfectly acceptable things (such as “Stop moving.”). Every day they work together, his hostility grows. Other people she works with have noticed and commented on the fact that she seems to be singled out by him. He calls her desperate and makes fun of her when men come in and hit on her (a common occurrence in a city pizza shop).
Today she is going in to talk to one of the higher ups about transferring her to one of their other shops, or helping her navigate this hostile situation, and she’s terrified. Because she knows they probably won’t believe her, will think of her as a “weak, whiny female” and will not support her. ”It’s just a joke,” “We mess around a lot,” “If you can’t handle it maybe you shouldn’t be working here,” and so on and so forth. But she needs her job, even if it means breaking down crying at work regularly.
That is what it’s like. I have personally worked in an environment where a 6’3” grown man thought it was acceptable to pick up a chair and throw it across the room because I disagreed with him, where physical violence and intimidation against women is just par for the course, where his irrational, emotional display of violence is acceptable because he’s a man. That is what it’s like.
And I’m sick of it.
Sweden’s New Gender-Neutral Pronoun: Hen - A country tries to banish gender.
one of the girls in one of my hopkins classes mentioned this the other day, which is notable in and of itself because someone in one of my hopkins classes mentioned something that was remotely interesting to me… apparently sweden is really pushing the envelope in terms of the development of gender identity in young children:
Earlier this month, the movement for gender neutrality reached a milestone: Just days after International Women’s Day a new pronoun, hen (pronounced like the bird in English), was added to the online version of the country’s National Encyclopedia. The entry defines hen as a “proposed gender-neutral personal pronoun instead of he [han in Swedish] and she [hon].”TheNational Encyclopedia announcement came amid a heated debate about gender neutrality that has been raging in Swedish newspaper columns and TV studios and on parenting blogs and feminist websites.
this is so exciting and amazing. as an early childhood educator, i’ve become really conscious of how i tacitly reinforce both “innocuous” and detrimental conceptions of gender in the classroom. i try my best to refer to my kids using gender neutral group addresses like “friends” and “students” (instead of boys and girls) and i do try to make sure i notice when the boys, and not the just the girls, have new shoes or got new braids or whatever, because they like to have those things noticed and complimented, too. also i’ve been mixing up colors a lot and i give pink to the boys and blue to the girls fairly often, although it still makes me feel weird sometimes and i’m not sure why (maybe it feels like i’m trying to impose some kind of radicalized agenda on my students, when giving boys pink things shouldn’t really feel radical at all). most of the kids don’t even care, honestly. it’s more the boys than the girls and i usually give them shit for giving me shit about it. sadly, my sphere of influence is limited to my own classroom and i can’t really control what messages my students are receiving from other teachers or outside of school in general. and at the same time, even though i try to be hyper-conscious of it, i make mistakes, too. like i often catch myself asking my boys to lift/carry things for me and shut doors and do more “physical” things, when in reality my students are essentially the same size.
At Egalia, one model Stockholm preschool, everything from the decoration to the books and toys are carefully selected to promote a gender-equal perspective and to avoid traditional presentations of gender and parenting roles. The teachers try to expose the pupils to as few “gendered expressions” as possible. At Christmastime, the Egalia staff rewrote a traditional song as “hen bakes cakes all day long.” When pupils play house, they are encouraged to include “mommy, daddy, child” in their imaginary families, as well as “daddy, daddy, child”; “mommy, mommy, child”; “daddy, daddy, sister, aunty, child”; or any other modern combination.
to be quite honest, as an adult in an early childhood environment every day, this might not seem like much, but it’s actually pretty revolutionary. reframing the conception of gender in the early childhood is perhaps the only way of making advances towards any kind of legitimate, legitimized gender equality. way to go, sweden!!!