Friday, June 26, 2009

Its a ... None of Your Business !! Swedish Parenting.

A pair of Swedish parents have made an unprecedented decision in raising their child. They have decided to keep the child's gender a secret, giving it the name "Pop" which in Swedish is apparently an androgynous name. The Local, a Swedish news digest reports as follows.

In an interview with newspaper Svenska Dagbladet in March, the parents were quoted saying their decision was rooted in the feminist philosophy that gender is a social construction.

“We want Pop to grow up more freely and avoid being forced into a specific gender mould from the outset,” Pop’s mother said. “It's cruel to bring a child into the world with a blue or pink stamp on their forehead.” Reimer's accounts of therapy

The child's parents said so long as they keep Pop’s gender a secret, he or she will be able to avoid preconceived notions of how people should be treated if male or female.

Pop's wardrobe includes everything from dresses to trousers and Pop's hairstyle changes on a regular basis. And Pop usually decides how Pop is going to dress on a given morning.

Although Pop knows that there are physical differences between a boy and a girl, Pop's parents never use personal pronouns when referring to the child – they just say Pop."

Central to the parent's decision is a strong decision on the "Nature vs. Nurture" debate. Proponents of the "Nature" theory believe that the core of a child'd personality, including gender identity is hard wired and that experiences and upbring are important yet limited in their effect upon the psychological development of a child.

Proponents of the "Nurture" theory believe that a child's personality is the product of his or her environment and upbringing. They tend to minimise or dismiss the effect of biologically determined traits.

Pop will be the first child known to have been raised in a "non directional" way. In a very real sense, Pop's childhood will be a prolonged experiment. Pop's parents seem to be very focused on gender identity and on theories of character development. The childhood they will be shaping will not be a typical one.

Although Pop's home environment will certainly be unique, it will not be the first time that a home has been set up as a social laboratory. The article in The Local referred as follows to a famous case in 1967, when a botched medical circumcision turned into a prolonged experiment.

"....a circumcision left one of two twin brothers without a penis. Dr. John Money, who asserted that gender was learned rather than innate, convinced the parents to raise 'David' as 'Brenda' and the child had cosmetic genitalia reconstruction surgery.

She was raised as a female, with girls’ clothes, games and codes of behaviour. The parents never told Brenda the secret until she was a teenager and rebelled against femininity. She then started receiving testosterone injections and underwent another genetic reconstruction process to become David again. David Reimer denounced the experiment as a crushing failure before committing suicide at the age of 38. "

Dr. Money was scathingly portrayed in a book written by Reimer, "As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl." Reimer's account of "therapy" with Dr. Money is at such marked variance with the case histories put out by Money at Johns Hopkins University that it almost suggests falsification. At the very least, it seems that Money's commitment to the success of gender reassignment left him deaf and blind in dealing with a child who was fundamentally opposed to his "experiment".

Although many in the psychiatric community are eagerly awaiting the results of Pop's upbringing, there are vocal critics who question the basic premises of the prolonged experiment that is Pop's upbringing. Toronto psychologist Susan Pinker was cited in the Swedish news article as follows.

“Ignoring children's natures simply doesn’t work,” says Susan Pinker, a psychologist and newspaper columnist from Toronto, Canada, who wrote the book The Sexual Paradox, which focuses on sex differences in the workplace.

“Child-rearing should not be about providing an opportunity to prove an ideological point, but about responding to each child’s needs as an individual,” Pinker tells The Local.

“It’s unlikely that they’ll be able to keep this a secret for long. Children are curious about their own identity, and are likely to gravitate towards others of the same sex during free play time in early childhood.”

Pinker says there are many ways that males and females differ from birth; even if gender is kept ‘secret,’ prenatal hormones developed in the second trimester of pregnancy already alter the way the child behaves and feels.

She says once children can speak, males tell aggressive stories 87 per cent of the time, while females only 17 per cent. In a study, children aged two to four were given a task to work together for a reward, and boys used physical tactics 50 times more than girls, she says. "

A proponent of the experiment made a stunning admission in an interview with the reporter from "The Local."

"But Swedish gender equality consultant Kristina Henkel says Pop’s parents' experiment might have positive results.

“If the parents are doing this because they want to create a discussion with other adults about why gender is important, then I think they can make a point of it,” Henkel says in a telephone interview with The Local. "

Sometimes the stupidity comes at you with such blinding speed that you need to put it on instant replay. What is a "gender equality consultant"? And what sort of parent raises a child to "create a discussion with other adults" ? How is Pop going to feel when he sees that his or her parents are too interested in philosophy and ideology to really listen to the child?

Voices of caution are also being sounded in the Swedish medical establishment. "The Local" reports as follows.

"Anna Nordenström, a paediatric endocrinologist at Karolinska Institutet, says it’s hard to know what effects the parents' decision will have on Pop.

“It will affect the child, but it’s hard to say if it will hurt the child,” says Nordenström, who studies hormonal influences on gender development.

“I don’t know what they are trying to achieve. It’s going to make the child different, make them very special.”

She says if Pop is still ‘genderless’ by the time he or she starts school, Pop will certainly receive a lot of attention from classmates. "

I am willing to bet that in Sweden Dr. Nordenstrom must be very subdued in voicing her reservations about Pop's upbringing. Very special? What does that mean? I can just imagine what "a lot of attention from classmates" means. What is Pop supposed to do when it's time to go to the bathroom? Flip a coin? The most annoying parents are those who have no recollection of what it was like to be a child. Pop's parents are running an experiment. How cute. How chic. How progressive. They should have bought a hamster Sphere: Related Content

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