Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Equal play

*sparklingly (
{ Helin & Voltaire, one of my favorite places in Stockholm | December 2010 }
To me, this really is the epitome of cozy urban living (can't you see why I want to live in Stockholm?). Every time we're back in the city for the holidays, we always make a point to take a walk across the snow-covered meadow in front of the turreted Helin & Voltaire cafè in Djurgården and indulge in some ridiculously delicious, cinnamony, cardamomy goodness.

If the optimal mix of city and country wasn't enough for me to love about Sweden (plus the whole passion towards an open society, sustainability, minimalist beauty, etc.), there's also their take on women, which can be summed up in a word: amazing.

Actually, it's not even that Sweden is so pro-women, they just seem to be extremely fair and balanced and to have an understanding of what's important (like, family and healthcare and equal parental leave for both the mama and the papa).

When thinking about Sweden vs. Italy for our family, Sweden is the obvious choice, given where we are in our life right now...and especially since as I get older I seem to be becoming more and more "feminist"—meaning that I get particularly fired up if I hear of any hint from anybody that a woman can't do as well or be as smart or as valuable to society and her family as a man.
{ The ridiculously cheery interior of Helin & Voltaire | December 2008 }
Which is why I happily passed around "Swedish School's Big Lesson With Dropping Personal Pronouns", an article that was published in The New York Times last week. The gist of it is: it's better to de-emphasize gender stereotypes (e.g., only boys play with blocks and only girls play with dolls; if a boy falls tell him to "man up", if a girl falls, cuddle with and soothe her for an extended period of time).

It all started because of a Swedish law that calls for schools to assure equal opportunities for boys and girls, which prompted the teachers to look at their own behaviors to see if they treated the children differently. They found, among other things, that they talked more with girls (which may explain why girls have better language skills) and accepted more rowdy behavior from boys (which may teach boys that volume = power).

That's why the teachers instituted new guidelines to try and help "cement opportunities for both women and men", like referring to all the children by their names or "friends" instead of saying "boys" and "girls" and by letting the kids see it was acceptable for every child to play with any toy or do any type of activity.

I don't believe it should be taken to the extreme and girls yelled at or made to think that playing with dolls isn't okay and they have to climb a tree or for boys to be taught that they can't play with blocks and they have to play house. But, the idea of making all forms of play acceptable for everyone to help children treat each other better now and especially as they become adults? That I like.

I think this really only exists because besides having a gender-equality mindset, Sweden has a sexual-equality mindset, too, so the idea of a boy playing with dolls might not immediately conjure up the word "gay", nor would a girl driving a toy truck around the playground.

All this is to say that I really like cozy cafès.

And I also really like when women and men are treated fairly.


  1. Replies
    1. Well you'll see that didn't last for long. Beginner's speed/excitement. :)


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