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Nathalie Rothschild is an international freelance journalist, writing for the top newspapers and magazines in the world. She wrote an article “Sweden’s New Gender-Neutral Pronoun: Hen” to reveal the peculiarities of the modern Swedish society development. The author provides a really amazing description of how the society tries to make people equal and free from any restrictions in terms of gender, but creates even more obstacles and limitations to keep it working.

Sweden was universally acclaimed a top gender equal country in the world back in 2010, but there are many people who push the country to make a next step and evolve from gender-equal to gender-neutral. This definitely cannot be a government ruled act, but only the people can declare this. The trick is that many activists are ready to apply such new norms and rules to the society, but the question is if the society will accept such new developments. For example, Sweden has over 170 approved unisex names that can be used for both boys and girls, although activists, supporting the new wave, believe classic boys names should be used to name girls and vice versa. Society is being introduced to the gender-neutral idea even via the clothing: stores do not separate boys or girls sections for clothing, and parents are offered to choose same clothing for children of both genders.

New approach to the gender neutrality is introduced in sports as well. Bowling is a good example, when men and women are offered to play together, and common tournaments are made to point out there is no difference between males and females in competition. Politics also get involved in the new developments, as Social Democrat party members offer to get the restrooms unified for use by both genders, so there would be no inequality as well. Meanwhile schools, specifically preschools, try to follow the national curriculum and provide the students with the equal opportunities to study, so several preschools introduced new forms of referring to children instead to traditional boys and girls. This way Swedes try to solve the issue.

Since making equal was not enough and neutralizing of genders was initiated, introduction of a new term to note both males and females was quite logical. It took place in March 2012, when the internet version of the National Encyclopedia was updated and the word “hen” was included. It happened to be a mix of the Swedish words he and she (han and hon). It raised the debates of supporters and opponents of the gender neutrality, especially after the gender-neutral children’s book was published. Its author introduced new words, which is quite common in the literature, but it was done to replace regular mother and father and erase the edge between the genders in child upbringing. Some magazines started publishing using ”hen” to replace usual “he” or “she”. Historically “hen” was initially derived in the 1960’s, with linguist Hans Karlgren suggesting this pronoun to submit sometimes awkward sounding “he/she”. Nowadays practical language use of the pronoun was changed due to the societal importance of it.

Opponents of “hen” have different arguments against using this word. Some of them believe feminists try to express themselves such way, not realizing they are destroying the language. A lot of “hen” opponents say children cannot clearly derive between linguistic notions of gender, as they grow up and develop, communicating with other kids and learning about genders this way. Moreover, when some schools tried to fully neutralize the environment, children turned out to be deprived of free time to prevent them from communicating without control and developing other gender concepts then suggested. Some schools even got rid of the toy cars to make sure there was no male domination during games.

Swedish society strives to provide equality to both sexes and make the relations between the people as even as possible, but at the same time changes made to reach this goal make the children be strongly controlled and monitored by the teachers, make amendments to the language and issue lots of restrictions.

Code: Sample20

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