OK, this article in the Christian Science Monitor makes me very happy. Vienna gives a gender change to its signs and I think it’s a wonderful idea that other communities – including Bainbridge island – should follow. I can totally relate to a young father interviewed for the article:
Mendel, however, thinks the campaign is progressive. If he needed to change a baby’s diaper and saw the new sign, he says, “I would feel 100 percent integrated.” Overwhelmingly, diaper-changing facilities are found in women’s restrooms.
There are plenty of places for me to change diapers around here – though I have done my share of sitting on the toilet seat with a messy diaper in my lap. What I like about changing the signs is that it makes me – like Mendel – feel more normal in that role when I’m out and about with my munchkins.
The message I particular appreciated is the notion that it’s a matter of taking the issue of Gender Mainstreaming to the people, described on Wikipedia thus:
- Mainstreaming a gender perspective is the process of assessing the implications for women and men of any planned action, including legislation, policies or programmes, in all areas and at all levels. It is a strategy for making women’s as well as men’s concerns and experiences an integral dimension of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes in all political, economic and societal spheres so that women and men benefit equally and inequality is not perpetuated. The ultimate goal is to achieve gender equality.
In Vienna they are seeking to confront expectations about gender roles and shock people – I like it!
What it reminds me of also is that we don’t always have to wait for the politicians to create change for us – here are a couple very visible signs of gender backwardness in my own neighborhood that I have been watching and am hoping to see change:
- Daycare provider forms have “mother” and “father” fields to fill out
Nursery school parents organize “Mom’s night out”
- Local grocery store has a reserved parking space for pregnant women and young mothers, but not for young fathers
- The most popular parents e-mail list on the island is called bainbridgeislandmoms
Gentle nudging has already fixed the Mom’s night out. Let’s see how we do on the others.