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Swedish boys' new hero: pram-pushing Spiderman

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Swedish boys' new hero: pram-pushing Spiderman
10:50 CEST+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"Gender roles are an outdated thing," he told Metro newspaper.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

Follow Oliver on Twitter here

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