Recent Feminist Initiatives in Sweden Include Gender Neutral Pronoun, Bechdel Test

Posted: Nov 07, 2013 12:30 PM

A recent report showed America trailing far behind many European countries in gender equality, and pressure is mounting on the US to "catch up." Meanwhile in Sweden, feminists have secured a gender neutral pronoun and the implementation of the Bechdel Test, a system that rates movies based on the roles and interactions of only the female characters.

Of course, Sweden is already a near-paradise for feminists: the government is already sustaining an Equality Ombudsman, a Minister for Gender Equality, and an extensive "gender mainstreaming" website. (Of course, abortion is also a legal right there and is increasing over time.)

Yet the most recent measures have brought in a whole new wave of feminist celebration, praise, and (in the case of liberal Americans) longing. First, there was the formal addition of a gender-neutral pronoun to Sweden's National Encyclopedia back in 2012 that is returning to the fore of public debate as its far-reaching implications (that conservatives warned the public about) become apparent. As per usual but no less tragically, children suffer the most. Even liberal feminist Jezebel admits (emphasis mine):

Ironically, in the effort to free Swedish children from so-called normative behavior, gender-neutral proponents are also subjecting them to a whole set of new rules and new norms as certain forms of play become taboo, language becomes regulated, and children's interactions and attitudes are closely observed by teachers. One Swedish school got rid of its toy cars because boys "gender-coded" them and ascribed the cars higher status than other toys. Another preschool removed "free playtime" from its schedule because, as a pedagogue at the school put it, when children play freely "stereotypical gender patterns are born and cemented."

Wow. Children are not allowed to play because they naturally exhibit their birth gender. In other words, kids are having their toys taken away so liberal extremists won't have to admit that there is a biological component to gender. Somehow, Jezebel manages to immediately follow up that dystopian nightmare with "Well, you're either interested in legitimate change or you're not, and change requires some risk."

It is unsurprising that the same society has adopted a movie rating system that exclusively focuses on the feminist Bechdel Test, which requires two named female characters in the film to talk to each other about something other than a man. By this measure, which is being implemented by the state-funded Swedish Film Institute, a list of terrible movies would include: all of Lord of the Rings, all of Star Wars, Pulp Fiction, all but one of the Harry Potter movies, Avatar, Casablanca, Ratatouille, and Batman Begins.

One of my personal favorite Bechdel Test "failures" - in terms of irony - is that of Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Yes, a film that is named after and revolves around the sole protagonist - a woman who is not only athletic, adventurous, and brilliant but who also became the catalyst for a revolution in female video game leads - failed the feminist test.

As important as women's rights are in the world today, the US should think twice before it decides to become the next Sweden.