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That's why I wrote the books about Konrad - Åsa Mendel-Hartvig tells!
I want purple nail polish too! said my three-year-old one day when she came home from preschool. Sigh, I thought, here it begins – society's shaping of my child into a GIRL, preoccupied with her appearance.
Okay, I said. Does anyone at preschool have nail polish like that?
It made me smile and I soon realized that my child was lucky to attend a very permissive preschool. That Ivar combined his Spider-Man costume with pink glitter shoes was simply not a thing. Nor that Rasmus stormed into my second daughter's pirate party in a pirate hat, flowery dress and sword in full swing. Or that more than one little boy, rummaging through my children's dress-up drawer, delightedly selected a pair of sparkly fairy wings.
It was different when I was a child. When my one-and-a-half-year-old little brother Mikael came to our kindergarten with a small tuft in the middle of his head, the principal laughed at him and called him Mikaela. My little brother wanted a tassel, because I had a tassel. My grandmother's little brother wanted a dress because his sister had a dress. That someone has a problem with that feels to me heartbreaking and half incomprehensible.
But as you know, it is still the everyday life of many little boys. I have a friend whose son loved pink and purple. But she did not dare to buy the pink bicycle he wanted, for fear that he would be teased in the small community where he grows up. And in the Stockholm suburb opposite my children's permissive preschool, a little one-year-old stood in front of the mirror of the open preschool wearing a necklace he had found. Some distance away, his father was raling with some other fathers:
- It is not wise what he reflects all the time. He's going to be that gay, hey hey hey!
And here we have the core of the poodle. It's not just about dislike of a garment or a color or a tassel or a necklace. It is about a systematic devaluing of the traditionally feminine, about homophobia, transphobia and fear of touch. Few parents get excited at the thought of their daughter in pants and a shirt. But a boy in a dress ... there the warning signal goes off. Imagine if he becomes
a ... gay!
This is of course sad for all little boys who are limited in their expression and interests. But it is also destructive for adult individuals, entire societies and the planet. Because in the notion of the traditionally feminine there are qualities such as empathy, responsiveness and caring. These are qualities that this world needs more of, qualities that all children, regardless of gender, have within them.
Therefore, I hope that the books about Konrad inspire more boys, parents and educators to unproblematically embrace floral pirate dresses, pink bicycles and purple nail polish.
The first book about Konrad came out nine years ago. In total, there are six books about Konrad and his sister Hedvig.