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Swedish boys' new hero: pram-pushing Spiderman

Swedish boys' new hero: pram-pushing Spiderman

Published: 30 Mar 2012 10:50 GMT+02:00
Updated: 30 Mar 2012 10:50 GMT+02:00

A new Swedish toy catalogue has reversed the traditional gender roles by showing Spiderman pushing a pram, and a young girl riding a toy racecar.

Kaj Wiberg is the CEO of the company behind the catalogue, "Leklust", and claims that it is time to move forward from old-fashioned gender restrictions.

"Gender roles are an outdated thing," he told Metro newspaper.

Carl Emanuelsson, spokesman for Sweden's Feminist Initiative, welcomes the concept.

"It's great that this company has tried to show that people don't need to be stuck in gender roles," he told The Local.

"Examples such as these show other ways that we can break free from the roles that are forced on us, the roles that we are limited by."

In the catalogue, on a predominantly pink page full of dolls and prams, a child dressed as spiderman can be seen pushing a pink pram.

On another page, a blonde-haired girl with rolled up sleeves is pedalling what appears to be a racing vehicle.

Elsewhere, the catalogue features another boy standing in front of a toy stove, apparently cooking a make-believe meal.

"I'm 71 years old, and those of us who have worked in this industry for a while know that boys play with doll houses. We know that boys can play with Barbie dolls," Wiberg told the paper.

The pictures from the catalogue have been making the rounds online via various social media channels, including one prominent Swedish feminist blog "Lady Dahmer".

Lady Dahmer shot to fame earlier this month after taking the reins of Sweden's official Twitter account and challenging people's preconceptions about breastfeeding, gender roles, and Swedish society.

She posted the pictures encouraging readers to email the company showing support.

She has received over one hundred comments about the pictures, and her blog entry has been shared hundreds of times of Facebook.

"The problem with toy stores and their catalogues is that they're selling a concept; an idea about boys and girls and what kind of qualities and interests they should have," Lady Dahmer told The Local.

"It's about money because as long as they can fool us into believing boys and girls are fundamentally different, they can keep selling us twice as much."

"Children have a strong need to fit in, not stand out. When they see what is "right" for their gender, it becomes less likely that they dare to break the norms," she said.

Meanwhile, an employee at a Leklust factory beamed about the positive reaction.

"We love the idea, and we think it's really fun," she told The Local.

Leklust toys are available at 18 stores around Sweden.

This is not the first case of toy catalogue controvery in Sweden. In October, 2009, sixth grade students from Växjö, southern Sweden, made a storm by reported toy retailing giant Toys "R" Us to the Reklamombudsmannen (Ro) for gender discrimination.

The 13-year olds decided that a Christmas catalogue featured children in "outdated gender roles", with boys too often in "action filled" pictures, and girls only in "passive poses".

Oliver Gee

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Your comments about this article

11:40 March 30, 2012 by johan rebel
HA HA HA HA HA ! ! !

Good luck trying to change human nature.
11:47 March 30, 2012 by EP
Most guys in Sweden are either gay or look gay and most women act like men here (use snus, spit, get pissed drunk), so what's shocking about the advert? It's showing it like it is in Sweden
11:55 March 30, 2012 by RobinHood
I think a movie about a Swedish spiderman might be a bit of a disappointment to his usual fans. Swedish Spidey picks the kids up from daycare, and Swedish Spidey buys a pink Aygo just don't quite work for me.

But as Kai says, "gender roles are so outdated".
12:21 March 30, 2012 by Grokh
i dont think the problem is that its gay, i think the problem is that its absolutely lame...
12:32 March 30, 2012 by Scorch
The right pic is just ridiculous. Spiderman is supposed to be a superhero, not a nanny.

Let the kids be kids

I will raise my children the same though. They will all become Battlefield pros
12:37 March 30, 2012 by Central European
Funny, I do not see any gender role change in having girl on pedal care and seeing some child in spiderman with pink pram.

Do they still have their set of organs, gonads and hormone ?

Trouble of such nifty gender stakhanovite is what ?

That they will play different with different things....

That boys in pink ´d use a pram to carry their barbine army or stock piles to their secret citadel and girls with cars ll play a girl way....

There is no role play which has been imprintend in last couple or centuries to clear child brains by dirty male chauvinist civilization, there are only a new ways how our milions year old instincts cooperate with changeable enviroment.

If the succesfull strategy driven by evolution ´d be group of same level, same gender, same behaviour and equal social standig people I do ask where was this society in last 10 milions years ?

I do not beileve, that is important to make new generation of frustrated in name equality or equal opportunities.

Really important thing is to have happy kids with real carefree childhood couse we do have enough frustration during our adulthood.

Do not play our "battles" on child playrooms.

To have a gender is not a choice, it is a gift of variety.....
12:43 March 30, 2012 by libertarianism
Spiderhen, spiderhen, friendly neighborhood spiderhen...

Racecar?? Looks like a rickety lawnmower. :(

I once saw some very young Swedish children "playing" in the yard by a little play stuga, and they were using little child-size squeegees to clean the windows!??

It just seemed so very very wrong. :(
13:12 March 30, 2012 by phil23456
totally out of place and out of order, the boy pushing the pink pram is just wrong
14:20 March 30, 2012 by Abe L
#2 kinda nails it, where is the viking mentality? Where are the axe-wielding real men that drink their liquor from their opponents skulls?

Ancestors of present day Swedish guys probably turn around in their graves a lot.
14:47 March 30, 2012 by highlunder
#8 / phil23456: care to explain (why you feel that is the case)?

see also http://www.gender-focus.com/2010/09/23/pink-for-girls/ ...
15:10 March 30, 2012 by Lotus2035
Meanwhile in the real world the majority of engineers continues to be men and the majority of nurses continues to be women. The more freedom men and women have the more likely they are to choose work based on personal preference.

The belief that the only difference between men and women is their sexual organs will one day be laughed at in much the same way we laugh at the idea of a flat-earth today.
15:10 March 30, 2012 by Central European
Abe L

well I can imagine few wiking´s games with prams :)
15:29 March 30, 2012 by MarshaLynn
#10 highlunder:

Male and female brains are not wired the same. Experience has taught us this for thousands of years, and now science concurs. Studies have proven that males and females are simply wired differently. Trying to force males to behave like females, and vice versa, is absurd. And why does it need to be done anyway? Why do you wish to turn an automobile into a lawnmower, or a refrigerator into a motorcycle? Studies have also demonstrated for decades now that the contribution of male and female to childrearing is what is optimal for child development. The dynamic of male and female together in childrearing cannot be duplicated by male only or female only, per studies. Something will be left out. I realize I am speaking to a mindset (not just yours but others as well) that is not listening, and time alone will teach these lessons. But that will be after society has gone over the cliff in a total train wreck and then will have to climb its way back out again. There are realities on this planet, and one of the biggest is that men are men and women are women. Yes, get rid of abuses, but don't be trying to make a man into a woman and vice versa. I don't know if you've noticed this or not, but most women are not attracted to feminine men. They work to make all males more feminine, more "sensitive," and then when they succeed, they totally reject the monstrosity they've created. Men are no longer free to be men in this world. Their maleness is despised. And that is a total creation of misguided women who wish to control. There is nothing more monstrous than a domineering woman. I say that as a woman myself. I promise you, you are on the road to a train wreck.
16:30 March 30, 2012 by Tanskalainen
Child abuse, plain and simple child abuse.
16:37 March 30, 2012 by ferdio
....Reacting to this piece, Rebecca Hen, spokeswoman of Machonist initiative lambasts the concept as 'wireless' and total gross...

Imagine those guys growing into puberty with 'artificially' induced menstruation (Period), or the girls getting 'hyperactive' and deep voices with mustache...

Must be a horror movie on the streets of Sweden...! God forbid!

So why working hard to fix what is not broken? Or breaking what is not fixable?

Please, save this beautiful country from the claws of the enemies... (in shirt/trousers) before it is too late.
16:42 March 30, 2012 by Vill
Yeah, I'm sick and tired of these gender roles society forces upon me. For now on I am going to use the ladies restroom. I imagine it is much more sanitary than the mens restroom.
17:16 March 30, 2012 by markusd
I used to play with my sister's pram all of the time when I was a kid. I used to load it up with army guys and pretend it was a giant battle tank. I can't tell you how many times I pretended to blow that thing up. My sister's Barbies were also master martial artists who often fought to the death with GI Joe. I guess I was just ahead of my time. :-)
20:13 March 30, 2012 by Mbenzi
Comment: I have noticed that the number of women giving birth is higher than the number of men doing so, and it seems to me like there are gender roles also in that aspect. Actually, I don't think that the proportion has changed even after more gay people have "come out" officially. The number of men delivering babies will surely increase after successful campaigns by "Leklust" and the Swedish feminist organizations. Or what? But seriously, hundreds of research studies show that children as well as animal cubs take up different roles by themselves, even WITHOUT parental influence. The preference is pre-set in their genes. This does not mean that we should not influence instincts - some instincts are not so fit in a civilized world. Gender discrimination is a problem in many places and situations, and the question should be addressed. But in order to be taken seriously, one should not revert to ridiculous campaigns. We have different roles, that is it. Real equality does not mean "similarity" or having the same role in each and every situation. Equality means having a fair chance within one's role to reach similar levels of status, payment, freedom, education, rights and you name it. Some people feel that they were born into the "wrong" gender. They can get that "corrected" by an operation. With future research, it may even be possible to arrange bodily functions like the ability to give birth (it has been done). But I think there are bigger problems in the world, with a higher priority. "Forcing" kids to take up a fake identity will not only take the focus off the real gender equality problems, but it may also be harmful to the mental health of a person.
20:24 March 30, 2012 by Decedo
OMG Only in Sweden. I imagine some nazi feminist pushed this through and the cowed metrosexual men sat meekly by
21:22 March 30, 2012 by dizzymoe33
I believe that both male and female children should have the basic knowledge in how to maintain a home, cooking, cleaning, basic maintenance of a vehicle like changing the oil checking the tire pressure and changing a tire to mowing and maintaining the yard to splitting and stacking wood. There are many more examples of what everyone should know it doesn't matter if you are a boy or a girl and then there are gender specific things that apply also. Yes men can do some things women can't do and women can do some things that men can't do but working together we can accomplish everything!
00:40 March 31, 2012 by Tanskalainen
So, how do you tell the bride from the groom at a Swedish wedding? Answer: the bride is the one with the braided armpits.
01:39 March 31, 2012 by BackpackerKev
Im seriously getting fed up with this kind of thought process that you have to go out of your way to prove a gender neutral or break gender stereotypes, rather than just advertise it individually where no gender or more needs to be though about.

Who in history has ever said that a girl on a racecar looks wrong, it isnt, it hasnt been, there are plenty of female racecar drivers in the real world.

But why go to the effort of having spiderman push a pram, when spiderman climbs walls, throws webs and catches bad guys or girls, what spiderman doesnt do and its not down to gender, is push prams unless that baby is in danger. It just looks absolutely dumb from a advertising perspective, spider man can be gender neutral in 10000000000 billion ways, advertised in a 1000's gender neutral ways but you have to go one step further and actually try and make a statement to say spiderman pushes a pram to get free advertising.

Who has ever said a boy cannot play with a cooker?

Its not down to breaking gender stereotypes, it comes down to advertisers not having the imagination to take each item and be able to sell it for what it is without they themselves falling into the trap of gender stereotype's.

Get over it, move on , Stop making issues where there are none and people will be more accepting and open to more ideas.
10:38 March 31, 2012 by CharlieStockholm
I don't see anything wrong or abusive about this. I think it's good to let the kids do whatever they feel like. It won't affect their gender and would you be worried about their future sexuality? So what? As long as people are happy and loving and not in mental stress and pain and telling others how to live and be abusive.

Also, I cannot believe some of the comments on here or the internet in general. I thought the world was getting more educated and stuck in the dark ages.
16:32 March 31, 2012 by grymagnusson
I see we are all stuck in a cave in here. Now where is that switch, oh the light, the light..
22:48 March 31, 2012 by Radhus
When I took my eldest daughter to playgroup as a toddler she went straight for the plastic "toddler" truck and pushed it around. I saw the same one on sale not long after and bought it for her to have at home. She loved it. By the time my second daughter was walking my mum bought a pink thing with buttons and stuff to push around but my daughter also preferred the truck.

At my youngest daughter's preschool both the girls and boys love playing with those train tracks that join together and pulling the trains around on it. I even see both genders dressing up in gender specific dress-up clothes like nurses and cowboys. I see nobody object. Just laugh if anything.

I don't find the above catalogue pictures offensive, just funny, although a bit over the top, but who cares.
09:22 April 1, 2012 by rise
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
11:46 April 2, 2012 by AntiL
Oh, those feminazis... How dare they hinting boys that they can be a superhero and caring and nurturing person at the same time, and girls be out of home and work with machines and cars.

Leave the children alone! They will LEARN their 'natural' roles, anyways, with the help of the forces of patriarchy and free markets.
03:02 April 3, 2012 by zoroko
Don't you see how hypocritical your comments are? Place a boy next to a media/society deemed "girl toy" and that's just forcing a kid into a behavior?

I cannot believe the sick comments being left here. "leave the kids alone!" "let kids be kids" "child abuse" and all of the above for examples. Yes we should be leaving kids to be kids, meaning we want their imaginations to be be limitless. If a boy wants to push a baby cart or cook food in a fake kitchen then we should let him, if a girl wants to play with trucks and ride toy motorcycles we should let her.

You guys make me sick!

Let kids be kids! That means let them choose how to play and what to play and how to grow up. sure male and females are "wired a little differently" but when we are kids we are virtually the same, we haven't hit puberty and boys and girls even share the same sports teams.
14:40 April 4, 2012 by highlunder
#24 and #29, I wish there was a "like" button for me to press on your comments.

To almost all others: interestingly enough I've many time asked for those unbiased "scientific" studies showing that "it's best for the mental health to let boys be boys" and other such bs, without any replies. Since you obviously have time on your hand to yell out here about the madness of this thing, could you please also link to some peer-reviewed sources that back up your, frankly, wacky, claims?
22:39 April 5, 2012 by Thuku
I thought equality would mean you buy the girl a pram and a truck.....pink and blue, and buy the boy the same.
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