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Swedish kiddie-mags touch off heated gender debate

Rebecca Martin · 6 May 2011, 17:24

Published: 06 May 2011 17:24 GMT+02:00

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Emma, the magazine aimed at girls, was described by publisher Egmont in a statement prior to the launch as a ‘lively, fun, and activating magazine for girls 6-9 years of age’.

The magazine features facts that publisher Egmont Kärnan deems suitable for their target audience, such as celebrities, baking, and arts and crafts.

The other magazine Goal Junior is described as ‘a cool football mag, where facts are presented in a cheeky and explosive way, which is guaranteed to appeal to younger football crazy boys’.

Goal Junior has only got images of male players, and the only female in the entire magazine is a cartoon, which features an angry mother.

The magazines have sparked up an internet storm, and on Thursday a campaign kicked off called ‘Stop limiting our children’ where almost 2000 people had signed an online petition against the publications by Friday afternoon.

Swedish author Karin Salmson is one of the instigators, and she says that one of the aims of the campaign is to make a stand and show that this is a bad idea by Egmont.

“It is a strange signal for kids to make a football magazine only aimed at boys and only featuring male footballers. A third of Sweden’s football-playing youth are girls,“ Salmson told daily Svenska Dagbladet (SvD).

The campaigners feel that boys who like arts and crafts should feel included in a magazine that writes about such things, and that girls who like football should feel the same about a football magazine.

And on the internet the debate continued on Friday afternoon.

“It is frightening and sad that there are people who still think like that, and make money out of it,” one twitter comment read.

“If Egmont would just go bust as an effect of their gender oppressive magazines, I would retain my belief in the human race,” another commented.

But not everyone agreed with the criticism against the publisher.

“I don’t get it. Egmont does their research, develops a product suited to the target audience and now everyone is criticising them? That is entrepreneurship 101,” one tweeter said in the publisher’s defence.

“I can't believe everyone is complaining to Egmont about this. If you don’t want kids to be affected by the magazines just don’t buy them,” another agreed.

Karin Salmson, however, wants the publisher to show corporate social responsibility and change the magazines so that they include everyone - or alternatively to discontinue them.

But at Egmont they don’t think that the magazines are strengthening traditional gender stereotypes. The magazines are for everyone, they claim.

Story continues below…

Regardless of what the 'unfortunate choice of words' in the press release stated at the launch.

“We certainly don’t want to exclude any reader. That would be stupid for a publishing house. We want as many readers as possible,” Linda Nehlstedt, business area manager at Egmont Kärnan, told newspaper Sydsvenskan.

According to Nehlstedt the magazines are the results of focus-group based research that Egmont has carried out with kids and parents.

Despite the campaign and the debate that is raging in Swedish media and on the internet, Egmont Kärnan has no intention of discontinuing or changing the magazines.

“We will do no such thing. Emma hit the shops yesterday and Goal Junior is being printed, Nehlstedt said to SvD on Friday.

Rebecca Martin (rebecca.martin@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

18:06 May 6, 2011 by Swedesmith
Oh my gosh! There's girls and there's boys and they have different parts and different interests! How terrible.
18:24 May 6, 2011 by calebian22

You are forgetting this is Sweden. Boys can't be boys unless a woman says they are allowed.
18:28 May 6, 2011 by Swedesmith
The Viking warriors are rolling in their graves.
19:11 May 6, 2011 by Roy E
The Theater of the Absurd thrives in Sweden.
19:15 May 6, 2011 by jomamas
The vast majority of kids continue to be interested in this stuff, hence the market interest, hence the investment by this company.

The parents should be 'outraged' at themselves.

Obviously the stereotypes are not outdated.
19:26 May 6, 2011 by Scott McCoy
I,m so glad I,m leaving Sweden in August for good,

I,ve never been to any country full of more dumb ass,s than this one,,,.Sweden rocks to It,s own Drum.
20:08 May 6, 2011 by Iraniboy

I think Sweden is glad too :D
20:16 May 6, 2011 by Kevin Harris
A football magazine for young girls might have a chance, but what young man wants to buy a magazine about "söta" Erik Saade, with pull-out posters of puppies and kittens?

Egmonst has been producing magazines for decades; they know who reads their stuff and why. They respond to readership demands after intensive market analysis. They don't dictate them.

Maybe Karin Salmson will put her money where her mouth is and start a couple of magazines within her definition of corporate social responsibility. I don't think I'll invest though thank you very much.
21:56 May 6, 2011 by Syftfel
I can't beleive this!! Have these verminous socialists and liberals gone so far now, that they don't recognize the difference between male and female? Who is this broad Salmson anyway? What does she know?
01:01 May 7, 2011 by Daveo
Lets just wait a year or two for the transgender kids magazine to get published and see what happens.
01:16 May 7, 2011 by LeoKinmann
congrats Scott, congrats.
01:33 May 7, 2011 by redfish
It markets to what the kids who are interested in these magazines want. Kids who are individuals don't want to buy them in the first place.
01:44 May 7, 2011 by MichiganLady
Yeh, these mags probably will appeal to their target audiences--but then so does candy and pop and all kinds of things that are harmful if they become an exclusive diet, as kids would choose. Kids don't know better, and it's even worse when adults reinforce their poor choices.

So, I'm not disputing that they know their target audience, or that they have a right to try to make money. But if a candy company tried to convince my kid he could LIVE on their product, I'd be offended! And the stereotypes on these magazines REALLY offend me.

But kids have parents, and parents ultimately will decide if the magazines are harmful for the kids--and they probably wouldn't be, if parents provide good context. *sigh*

It's just disappointing to see in the 21st Century, is all. Trying to make money off the vices of adults is one thing. But raking in the money appealing to the lowest common denominator in children is distasteful.
05:28 May 7, 2011 by StuartM
Appalling patriarchal propaganda. Companies simply shouldn't be allowed to brainwash children into complying with these narrow gender roles which reinforce male domination. Sweden may have a right-wing government at the moment but at least its people seem a bit more sceptical of the traditional norms and roles about men's and women's place in society. True freedom and liberation will be impossible for as long as we form our identities, interests and behaviour based on preconceived notions about what it means to be male or female. I look forward to moving to Sweden in August in order to take a course in Gender Studies.
09:14 May 7, 2011 by HYBRED
It appears that Karin Salmson is the self appointed magazine nazi.

All magazines have a targeted group, if they didn't we would have only one magazine. And to include every group it would be a few thousands pages.

So I guess if Karin Salmson has here way we will have hunting magazines with the latest in eye liners and fuel injection.
10:37 May 7, 2011 by RobinHood
So, Sweden loses Scott #6 and gains Stuart #14, who comes to us bearing "true freedom and liberation ....".

Good luck with your course in Gender Studies Stuart. But don't you think you might to a little better studying your chosen subject with a clear and open mind, rather than with your head full of the dogmatic bilge so resolutely rejected by the Swedish electorate in two successive elections. "True freedom and liberation" indeed. You can keep it! We don't want it!
13:28 May 7, 2011 by swedejane
Then let these so-called "campaigners" should raise the capital and publish their own magazines...otherwise, they really should just shut up.
23:53 May 7, 2011 by wenddiver
Duh, I bought my nephew a punching bag and a Henry .22 Calibre rifle for Christmas and my nieces got princess bikes and an Easy Bake oven.

None of them asked for transgender toys?????? Timmy asked me to take him to see the Alamo and the Girls wanted to go Ice Skating.

Obviously there is something wrong with the kids.

Listen to the Socialist and give the boys a Tu-Tu, kittens and high heels and the Girls a M-16 Rifle, an axe and Randy Couture Mixed Martial Arts book, so they grow up naturally.
02:04 May 8, 2011 by jamesblish
Calm the eff down. There was no internet storm, except in certain forums and circles. Most likely frequented by people who feel strongly about these types of issues. Maybe you should consider that before you go off on your embarrassing rants about how stupid this country is and how we're all gullible sheep.

I'm not a fan of the stereotypes these sorts of mags push but I'm not even going to go into that. But please realize that because a few people are outraged it doesn't mean that everyone is. Just like seeing ten arabs burning an american flag on tv means that the whole country of Libya hates America. God da**it, at least half of you jacka**es are embarrassing yourselves. Yet again.
13:45 May 24, 2011 by BruceSawford
Gosh... some people have strange ideas in Sweden. Niche magazines have to be carefully targeted at their audience demographic or their won't be successful. Like any good publisher, Egmont knows how to do it. To suggest they publish a football magazine for boys and girls is to entirely miss the point. Some things can be targeted at men, some at women, and some at both. But the decision lies with the company behind the idea. It's their money on the line. Still... it's fantastic promotion for the new title. Maybe Egmont engineered the whole debate??
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