Gender Blender: Gender Museum Aarhus Denmark

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By Shazia Anwer Cheema

Whenever the word “gender” comes to mind, terminologies such as gender role, sexual orientation and gender stereotypes hook the thinking process. It then comes to mind that normativity is subjective and crowned by society and brought into play mainly by religion.

The society still governed by normativity may regard any opposition to rejection as abnormal. Correcting the dress code, correcting gender roles and correcting sexual preferences are all part of the norm. However, we all agree that this is not the reality of the day, and not listening to all this noise against normativity might be a choice but not a solution.

Scandinavia is considered to be one of the regions of the world where the genre is treated with all its subjectivity. When sex education is part of school education and the discussion of gender, body and sexuality is not taboo. Gender Museum Denmark is a journey through the history of sex education, an exhibition of various methods that have been used to transmit sexuality over the past 200 years.

The writer stands outside the genre museum in the city of Aarhus in Denmark

The Gender Museum is located in the city of Aarhus in Denmark, the building was constructed as a town hall and police station in 1857 and rebuilt in 1909. The history of the building is central to the presentation of the Gender Museum in Denmark . Democracy, power and social movements are the main themes of the old city council chamber.

The Gender Museum in Denmark has an ongoing exhibition titled “Gender Blender”, the entire second floor has been dedicated to the cultural history of the sexes, an exploration of gender equality and an explanation of birth as a whether girl, boy or not, through a historical chronology and the themes of work, human, body, heritage, politics, activism, art and the world, the importance gender in society is explored.

Until 1933, homosexuality was a crime in Denmark, and it was not until 1981 that the National Board of Health removed homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses. Until the 1900s, teachers’ sex education books bear witness to a strained view of homosexuality.

During the 1950s, the fear of homosexuality was so great that there were books on how to prevent children from being drawn into the gay community. The 1961 teacher’s manual mentions homosexuality for the first time in more indulgent tones. However, students were always warned that homosexuality could affect their lives in unfortunate ways.

At the end of the 1940s, the first movement fighting for gay rights was born. The 1970s saw a growth of the Danish LGBT movement and societies such as the Gay Liberation Front and the Lesbian Front were formed. They made society aware of their existence by staging events leading to wider acceptance and a number of laws in their favor. With the introduction of compulsory sex education in 1970, the mention of homosexuality was intended to help young homosexuals understand “that they are by no means excluded from having a meaningful life”.

Women also had to fight for gender equality. In the early 1900s, it was common to relate women’s sexual desire solely to their reproductive abilities. Textbooks for teenagers have warned young women not to be sexually open. A teenage book published in 1952 mentions that a rumor sticks to a girl “like a single letter stamp.” The Women’s Libbers have attempted to remove taboos and shame from women’s sexuality by organizing protests and events.

The debate on equality is still alive. The Danish book “Ludermanifestet” (The Prostitute Manifesto) published in 2017, sparked a debate against the humiliation of sexually active women. In 2018, a study showed that girls are more likely than boys to be considered cheap. In addition, studies show that the number of suicide attempts among LGBT people is four times higher than among the Danish population in general. Today, sex education focuses on fixed norms of gender and sexuality.

The section titled Gender Blender also offers opportunities for gender and sex / body education, students from different schools come together to discuss body politics, body sociology and gender in specific settings.

The most interesting exhibition was “The Museum of Childhood”, where visitors can see the evolution of gender roles over 100 years, the exhibition is intended to experience our own bodies, visitors can interacting with objects, stepping on them even walking under them and stumbled into a time warp in a backyard with an old fashioned laundry room and restroom. The display itself signifies the relevance of the displayed idea by making it less relevant and more relevant to our daily life.

The third floor of the museum was dedicated to Astrid Lindgren (November 14, 1907 – January 28, 2002) was a Swedish writer of fiction and screenplays. She is best known for several children’s book series, with Pippi Longstocking, Emil of Lönneberga, Karlsson-on-the-Roof and the Six Bullerby Children (Children of Noisy Village in the United States), and for children’s fantasy novels. Mio, My Fils, Ronia the Robber’s Daughter and The Brothers Lionheart. Lindgren worked on the editorial board for children’s literature at the Rabén & Sjögren publishing house in Stockholm and has written over 30 children’s books. In January 2017, she was considered the 18th most translated author in the world and the fourth most translated children’s writer after Enid Blyton, Hans Christian Andersen and the Brothers Grimm. Lindgren has sold around 165 million books worldwide so far. In 1994, she received the Right Livelihood Award for “her status as a unique author dedicated to children’s rights and respect for their individuality”.

Astrid has written 34 children’s story books focusing on gender roles, body shame and sexuality. Astrid Lindgren’s children’s character, Pippi Longstocking, is actually an unusual young girl.

She is financially independent since she owns a bag full of gold coins. She can shoot a gun and sail the seven seas. She’s both cheeky and kind, she can carry a horse, and she can outshine the strongest man in the world, Mighty Adolph.

Pippi Longstocking is a rebellious girl, who has inspired children around the world since 1945. In her storybook world, she saved children from the laws of adults, provided them with unlimited amounts of soft drinks, and she stood up for the weak. and the oppressed. It is therefore not strange that the anti-authoritarian Pippi is being censored in some dictatorships and conservative states, and that it has aroused the fury of many adults.

A Swedish social commentator once argued that the “Pippi cult” had a very detrimental effect on schoolchildren and preschoolers in Sweden. “The cult of Pippi has changed everything, at school, in family life and in terms of normal behavior,” wrote the commentator in a major Swedish daily.

Perhaps the critics and censors, being adults, took Pippi a little too seriously. Children know that Pippi is wrong when she drinks lemonade from a jug at a garden party. Nonetheless, like other popular storybook characters, she influenced their way of thinking and behaving.

Pippi is fun because she breaks with conventional ideas about how girls should behave – and, perhaps, pokes fun at the gender roles of adults in the process, too. Like when she goes to the market with her giant hat shaped like a mill wheel, wearing a long evening dress and with huge green rosettes on her shoes. She also applied charcoal to her eyebrows and smeared her mouth and nails with red paint.

“I think you should look like a very beautiful lady when you go to the market,” said Pippi.

There’s a sign in a shop window in the small town where she lives that says, “DO YOU SUFFER FROM FRESHSPOTS?” Not Pippi. She is not interested in the anti-freckle cream offered but nevertheless goes to the store to clarify her position.

“No, I don’t suffer from freckles,” she says. “But my dear child,” said the surprised assistant, “your whole face is covered with it. “I know,” said Pippi, “but I don’t suffer from it. I love them. Hello!’

Gender bias does not bring inequality every time, but surely brings meaning to every sex in its existence. A man feels like a Man and a woman feels like a Woman, that’s what gender classification gives us. A girl feels like a girl and a boy feels like a boy for many reasons. Do we have mixed football teams in international competitions? Do we have international or even national competitions where women compete for men’s acrobatics? When would we have mixed weightlifting and bodybuilding competitions where women and men compete against each other?

I will continue to view the world as a ‘gender independent’ place regardless of geographic location until I can find a separate public toilet. I will consider this gender bias in the world until international discussions begin with ladies and gentlemen. I believe the human race will continue to face contradictions until we call bitch and dog … we separate everything on a gender basis. Can we get out of this segregation?

Disclaimer:

The views and opinions expressed in this article / Opinion / Commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the DND Think Tank and Dispatch Office (DND). The assumptions made in the analysis do not reflect the position of the DND Think Tank and the Dispatch News Desk.


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