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'Retard doll' shocks Swedish shoppers

'Retard doll' shocks Swedish shoppers

Published: 25 May 2012 16:28 GMT+02:00
Updated: 25 May 2012 16:28 GMT+02:00

A doll billed as a "real retard" found its way into stores in Gothenburg in western Sweden on Thursday, prompting strong reactions about a campaign meant to draw attention to the treatment of people with disabilities.

"Treat her like a real retard," reads the packaging of the doll, created by the Gothenburg Cooperative for Independent Living (Göteborgskooperativet för independent living – GIL).

"She doesn't swear, have sex, drink, or poop. So much better than a normal retard."

According to the group, a non-profit which provides personal assistants to people with disabilities so they can live independently, the doll is meant to stimulate thinking about how people think about and treat disabled people in Sweden.

"Most often people say things like, 'Oh, it's so great that you buy your own food!'. It makes you feel like you're seen like a total idiot," GIL's Anders Westgerd said in a statement.

According to Westgerd the controversial doll, which was placed shops around Gothenburg on Thursday, is meant to create a debate around the sometimes condescending approach taken toward disabled people.

"It's often those who say they aren't prejudiced who suffer the most moral panic because of the doll. They are often the people who treat people with disabilities with an exaggerated kindness," he told the TT news agency.

The doll, called "CP-docken" in Swedish (literally 'The Cerebral Palsy Doll'), relies on "CP", a Swedish insult roughly equivalent to "retard" in English.

According to GIL, the doll was made to appear as if it had clear signs of cerebral palsy and wasn't meant to be "cute" at all.

"We're not cuter than anyone else. We're just as stupid, smart, confident, horny and happy as you are," Westgerd said in a statement.

"We are people just like everyone else. Treat us that way. If you have an overwhelming need to be cuddly with a retard, you can buy a doll from us instead."

Despite the group's goals to spark a debate, some passersby in Gothenburg found the doll off-putting.

"It's ugly and scary. We have disabled people in our family and we aren't cutesy with them," Rosanna Muller and David Sokolowski told the Göteborgs Tidning (GT) newspaper.

"It's simply negative. People come by and just laugh and see the whole thing as a joke."

TT/David Landes

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Your comments about this article

18:04 May 25, 2012 by Svensksmith
This is about as good an idea as the genital mutilation cake.
18:13 May 25, 2012 by HelmiVainikka
When you read things like that you just KNOW that the next meteor impact is LONG overdue...
18:32 May 25, 2012 by Dazzler
I guess this is a step in the right direction considering in the 70s Sweden used folks with mental and physical disabilities as lab rats. YAY Eugenics!
19:05 May 25, 2012 by Swedishmyth
Only in Sweden...
19:45 May 25, 2012 by libertarianism
If the dolls don't sell, remarket them as Annie Lööf and sell them as part of a Swedish Politico collection.
19:51 May 25, 2012 by StockholmSam
I'm not so sure this is such a stupid idea. It has made me rethink how I treat those with mental and physical disabilities. Then again, I did not see the doll...I read the news story with the interview from the GIL representative. I have no idea how I would have reacted had I just come upon the doll in the store by chance without knowing the background. I probably would have been offended. But the dialogue created by this action is needed.
00:06 May 26, 2012 by Dr. Dillner
Looks like someone I used to work for!
00:20 May 26, 2012 by kirub
Where can I buy one?
01:45 May 26, 2012 by k2kats
While the intention may have been positive, the execution leaves a great deal to be desired.

Changing attitudes requires more than merely getting attention; you need to convey a positive message quickly and succinctly enough so that your audience absorbs it.
02:39 May 26, 2012 by Tanskalainen
They shouldn't make dolls of little Norwegians like that.
09:25 May 26, 2012 by Frobobbles
Let me see if I got this right. The swedish public is being accused of being TOO NICE to people with cerebral palsy? They now have to be indoctrinated and attitude adjusted to act less nicely, so that people with cerebral palsy will feel less peeved?

Talking about lacking real problems.
10:24 May 26, 2012 by B Slick
Some parents bought this doll and put a hole in the mouth using a nail then pulled off the head and filled the head up with water or some other liquid and went up to "friends and family" and squeezed the head causing the doll to squirt out the liquid from its mouth into the face of others. Some found this to be very funny and others did not.
12:25 May 26, 2012 by Marc the Texan
Maybe it's offensive, but I just can't stop laughing. I was also glad to learn that they are as stupid and horny as I am along with a few other likenesses.
12:43 May 26, 2012 by gabeltoon
#10 Your comment is thoughtless and stupid. Take a moment to think about what you have said............ Put yourself in the place of a NORWEGIAN or any other person and think how you would feel like being treated like that.
14:11 May 26, 2012 by Svensksmith
Oh come on, it made me laugh out loud.
18:18 May 26, 2012 by mibrooks27
I think of this as representative of an American girl friend. All American's are retards, and their women are more so.
00:10 May 27, 2012 by Tanskalainen
14 & 16 Smore smor pa plose mitt.........oh, jeg glemte du ikke har noen smor.
08:31 May 27, 2012 by Morenikeji
This incident brings again to my mind something I have been thinking for sometime. I wonder if the so-called non-profit organisations in Sweden are not getting state's grants how many of them would be existing? I'm not convinced that those who made this doll care a lot for people with disabilities.
09:19 May 28, 2012 by scandiland
Why would it make a disabled feel "like a total idiot" if someone is nice to them? Why is it so complicated?
17:00 May 28, 2012 by ttrs_d
I guess if they'd made a doll of an imam, an Arab, a Swede or an Eritrean, it would still offend somebody. There's no pleasing everyoone.
22:49 May 28, 2012 by Da Goat
I think someone might be offended by Julia Gillard dolls!
07:29 May 30, 2012 by Lisl_AK
Yes, mibrooks, we Americans are retards who know how to use apostrophes.

Clearly some people have to find something to whinge about.
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