Sweden Introduces New Gender-Neutral Pronoun: ‘Hen’
Sweden—a country that occupies the eastern part of Scandinavia—was considered the most gender-equal country in the world in 2010 by the World Economic Forum.
This year, the country is pushing for ‘gender-neutrality’—not just ‘gender-equality’.
In effort to support gender-neutrality, the Nordic country has officially added the gender-neutral pronoun “hen” (like the bird) to its online National Encyclopedia.
The new word is to be used instead of “he” or “she”, and is defined as “a proposed gender-neutral personal pronoun instead of he (“han” in Swedish) and she (“hon”).
“The idea is that the government and society should tolerate no distinctions at all between the sexes,” Nathalie Rothschild of Slate Magazine wrote.
“This means on the narrow level that society should show sensitivity to people who don’t identify themselves as either male of female, including allowing any type of couple to marry.”
The Swedish have also taken gender out of everyday language and things.
According to Slate Magazine, some local clothing companies have removed ‘boys’ and ‘girls’ sections in their stores.
A toy catalog ‘Leklust catalog’ has also joined in on challenging gender stereotypes and featured: a boy dressed as Spiderman and pushing a stroller, while a girl dressed in denim rides a tractor.
Activists are also lobbying for parents to choose any name for their children—for names should not be tied to gender.
The introducing of the word was sparked by the publication of Sweden’s first gender-neutral children’s book ‘Kivi och Monsterhund’ (Kivi and Monsterdog), written by Jesper Lundqvist.
In the book, Lundqvist introduces several gender-neutral words in the book. Swedish words such as moms and dads in the book “mammor and pappor” were replaced with “mappor and pammor”.
What do you think about, ‘hen’?