In Norway, any child over the age of six can now legally change his or her sex. “Daddy, guess what, I’m a female now! Daddy, what does female mean?”
Gender trends in the West are astonishing.
Last month in the United States, a student responded to a reference to gender by commenting that there are two biological genders, male and female. Furious teachers barred him from the class at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
In Asia, any student who answered a question on gender without saying that there are two biological genders, male and female, would risk getting thrown out of class.
East and West seem to be different planets on this topic.
In parts of Europe and the United States, if a bearded man working as a professional sperm donor claims to be female, using the word “him” for him (oops!) is a hate crime, and repeat offences can lead to a jail sentence.
This was on my mind as I have two family members travelling to Europe this week. I warned them to avoid all gender questions. “But what if someone gives me a form and I have to tick a ‘male or female’ box?” I told her that this would definitely be a trick question, and she should throw the form back in their faces, saying: “Your discredited binary gender categories outrage me.”
These days if you meet a Western baby, you can’t tell what sex it is, since many consider it evil to dress girls in pink and boys in blue. You have to say something like: “What a cute little, er, offspring, it looks just like one or other of its, er, begetters.”
In several Western countries you can now change your sex by clicking an online form.
It was revealed in recent days that an Argentinian man named Sergio Lazarovich got his pension money paid five years early by changing his sex to female. Now if this column was being written in the West, this writer would have to refer to this guy as a woman, because journalists are required to follow their subjects’ self-chosen sex, even when it is patently idiotic to do so. Lazarovich’s relatives are quoted saying that he is the sort of man who makes homophobic comments and has a string of girlfriends, including after his, er, “sex change”.
Schools in Sweden are instructed by the government to “counteract traditional gender roles and gender patterns”, the New York Times reported approvingly last week.
One Swedish couple was unhappy when their daughter came home having been taught to be rude, loud and untidy (that is, more like a boy). The teacher was unapologetic. ‘This is what we do here, and we are not going to stop it,” she told the reporter.
I think making girls behave like boys may qualify as The Dumbest Idea in History, beating even Chairman Mao’s “Let’s kill all the birds”, British India’s “Let’s lubricate bullets with pig fat”, and Hollywood’s decision to finance a film called “Santa Claus Conquers The Martians.”
Meanwhile, I am updating my all-purpose answer to my children’s questions, from “Ask your mother” to “Ask your other begetter”.
(Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveller. Send ideas and comments via his Facebook page)