A Swedish professor has been accused by one of his students of “anti-feminism” and “transphobia” for stating that men and women differ biologically.
Germund Hesslow, who works in neurophysiology at Lund University, was teaching a class on ‘Heritage and Environment,’ in which he asserted that the differences between men and women are “biologically founded” and thus genders cannot be regarded as “social constructs alone.”
The student who lodged the complaint against Hesslow claimed that the professor’s comments were fundamentally against Sweden’s “value base.” Sweden employs a blanket school policy which seeks to ensure an unwavering commitment to values such as egalitarianism, individual freedom, and equality of the sexes.
Hesslow told Russia Today that some of his students claim to disagree with simple assertions around gender biology for purely “ideological reasons.”
The academic noted that he made the seemingly straight-forward remarks after being asked a question by one of his students. Consequently, Hesslow explained how he had to be brief in his answer, simplifying his language.
“If you answer such a question you are under severe time pressure, you have to be extremely brief — and I used wording which I think was completely innocuous, and that apparently the student didn’t,” he explained.
After the complaint was filed by the student, Hesslow was called in for a meeting by Christer Larsson, the chairman of the program board for medical education. The female student who lodged the grievance argued that Hesslow was pushing his own “anti-feminist agenda” through his remarks.
The university asked Hesslow to withdraw his comment that transsexuality is a sexual orientation is “a matter of definition,” but he refused, adding that he’d “done enough” already to “explain and defend” his wording.
At some point, one must ask for a sense of proportion among those involved. If it were to become acceptable for students to record lectures in order to find compromising formulations and then involve faculty staff with meetings and long letters, we should let go of the medical education altogether,” Hesslow noted in a written reply to Larsson.
With regards to the student in question, Hesslow believes her complaint was less about his rather basic assertions and more about a personal attack from “someone who dislikes the lecture and is trying to find various pretexts for attacking it.”
For now, however, Hesslow will have to face a “full investigation” into his comments.
There have “been discussions about trying to stop the lecture or get rid of me,” he said, adding that the university may decide to “have someone else give the lecture or not give the lecture at all” as a result of the controversy.