Sweden has been moving to completely do away with traditional gender roles at an educational level. Schools have done this by retiring the terms “boy” and “girl” and instead encouraging the kids to use the term “friend”. Gender pronouns are also frowned upon and schools have begun to promote the gender-neutral pronoun “hen”.
This is not new is Sweden’s education sector, but a new and bizarre tactic has been brought to light by an article from the New York times where various of Sweden’s gender-neutralizing activities for children are laid out. These include having boys play in toy kitchens and having girls yell the word “no” at the top of their lungs. However, these are not the tactics that have people taken aback, rather it is the practice of telling boys to massage each other’s feet.
Supposedly giving foot massages is a female activity, an assertion that could be viewed by many as sexist on its own merit. But the thought of having a school activity surrounding boys being told to touch the feet of other boys seems bizarre to begin with, and unhygienic to add to it.
Finally, it’s not a stretch to say that allowing boys and girls to experience each other’s activities is a bad thing. Certainly, there can be some benefit for a boy to play in a kitchen for a little while, or for a girl to play with building blocks as well, but there’s no conceivable cognitive benefit that massaging another boy’s feet would promote.
Deputy Editor, The Unshackled
Host of the Front and Center Podcast