Posted by: Johan Normark | February 27, 2012

Gender in Sweden – hon, han, hen

In Sweden there is a current debate regarding the invented pronoun hen which is gender neutral. The hope is that it will replace or at least be a substitute to hon (she) and han (he). It is being taught in some preschools so that children learn to think gender free. The gender ideology behind this is of course grounded in the linguistic turn and social constructionism. From these perspectives hon and han are social constructions and they may not exist everywhere (such as in Bahasa Indonesia which has a gender neutral pronoun). From a “bipolar” gender categorization of man/woman there are obviously some people that fall outside, such as transsexuals. There is also a built in structure of power in these categories where the male dominates and where the female is a negation of the male, etc. The concept of hen is supposed to loosen up these relations of power. That part I have no problems with.

There is, however, a difference between century old concepts whose origin we cannot clearly know in detail and those current institutional concepts created by academics who wishes to “overcode” existing ones. It is simply another form of domination and since it lacks substantial support among grass roots it will not succeed. Social constructionists ignore entities that are micro and macro in relation to the individual human. Genes and chromosomes have no impact on gender categories and although institutions, states, and religions have some effect on gender categories, they are of less importance than the fuzzy structures they deal with in “society as a whole” (the traditional and simplified agent-structure relation).

Such debates quickly turn into political and ideological battles of the “either you are with me or not” kind. If you are against the concept of hen you are labeled conservative and a believer in gender essences. Well, I am neither. I am all for change and differences. The opposite sides in the debate tend to be both part of the linguistic and anthropocentric turn. They are simply negations of each other. Instead, take a flat ontology and erase the hierarchy of concepts inherent here because there are differences between people on several scales and from different perspectives. By focusing on hen, the gender issue will only be intensified and opposite poles will emerge and arguments regarding who is right or wrong will only escalate. If you are a social constructionist, take a look into what biology has to say, and vice versa. In order to combine them you may, however, need to change your very foundations. You’ll need to skip epistemology and focus on ontology instead.



  1. Asexuality Not Just For Ameobas Anymore.

  2. I don’t think changing a pronoun will remove sexuality.

    • i dont see how this helps women be heard because this basically removes her role as a women and i know that feminist want equal gender rights but this no equality its just stupid and has nothing to do with rights its just against it and trying to make our society into 1 gender like namekians in dragon ball

  3. It seems that those people promoting this “hen” thing have to much time on their hands. Better they get a real job instead.

  4. Do you have statistics to support that conclusion? The ones I know do have real job and they do a good job in preschools, universities, etc. I am primarily in disagreement with their ontological foundations.

  5. Well, if they have jobs at preschools they probably need to change to some other, more practical job. Maybe they could take up a job in a factory, packing boxes or something. Then perhaps they could preach their gibberich for the boxes instead of confusing the minds of our children.

  6. So dealing with children is not a practical job?

    • The point was that these people ought to work with things and not with humans. Especially should they not be allowed to work with small children that are easily indoctrinated.

      • In the USA they call the Hen gay. And they have gay pride parades, to celebrate the glory, and miracle of being gay. Most normal people dont care about the gays,as long as they dont see them kissing each other on television, as that makes them sick. But the gays say that the reason it makes them sick, is because they are not normal, they are homophobic, and they should make a drug or a pill for it, or something.
        I guess the government will have to figure all these things out, and what to teach the small children in schools.

      • Gilgamesh, you apparently have not understood what hen is. Seems like you fit the homophobic description. Are there no gay annunaki? No hen issues on planet Nibiru?

      • Johan, It is not known, if there are gay Annunaki on Nibiru, and I dont think they have any hen issues, I guess a hen would an it. .
        When the Annunaki came to Earth, they were all males, and later came very few females,When Marduk was the commander for the 300 male Igigi. on the Mars outpost base, Marduk married Sarpanit, an Earthling female, the mother of Nabu, The wedding was on Earth. But 200 of his Igigi, space pilots also came for his wedding, and they said, if their commander can marry an Earthling,they want to do the same, and they chose for themselves female Earthlings for wives. They were not punished,
        but they were installed in a camp at the space port, where they lived and had children, and later some of them spread out to the east.
        And as you guessed I m not gay, but some of my best friends
        are gays.

  7. Sexual Idenity Is Given At The Moment Of Our Birth.It Takes About 30yrs To Fully Realize,With Some Expermentation And Uncertenty Along With The Current GLBT Socio-corectness.Sex Becoming A Fearfull Pursuit Far Removed From The Tantric Estacy Of The Cosmic Consorts.

  8. I can’t imagine how this will work out in Sweden og anywhere else. Gender shouldn’t be of paramount interest, but as long as it is we have to understand that the idea of a non-gender society hasn’t been realized yet.

  9. Countries/languages that have gender neutral pronomen are not more equal because there are other power structures of more relevance.

  10. Are they trying to get rid of hon and han completely then? Why can’t they have all three? I wish English had a gender neutral pronoun to use when you’re not talking about a specific person. For example: “If a person practices medicine, then that person may be a doctor and that person probably had to go to school for many years.” In that sentence, I either have to keep referring to “that person” or choose a gender specific pronoun or incorrectly use “they” instead of a singular pronoun. It would be so much simpler to be able to write: “If a person practices medicine, then HEN may be a doctor and HEN probably had to go to school for many years.”

  11. No, all three are used. Hen is primarily used when the gender is unknown (or if it refers to a transgender person). There are other examples as well. I have seen media write something like “Hen did it again!” just to attract readers to look who this hen is even though the sex of the person is known. Most people, including myself, are getting used to the term by now.


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