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Swedish toy firm drops gender roles for Xmas

AFP/The Local · 24 Nov 2012, 08:30

Published: 24 Nov 2012 08:30 GMT+01:00

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"We have produced the catalogues for both BR and Toys R Us in a completely different way this year," Jan Nyberg, director of sales at Top Toy, franchise-holder for US toy chain Toys R Us, told the TT news agency Friday.

"With the new gender thinking, there is nothing that is right or wrong. It's not a boy or a girl thing, it's a toy for children."

The country's advertising watchdog (Reklamombudsmannen - RO) reprimanded the company for gender discrimination three years ago following complaints over outdated gender roles in the 2008 Christmas catalogue, which featured boys dressed as superheroes and girls playing princess.

"For several years, we have found that the gender debate has grown so strong in the Swedish market that we ... have had to adjust," Nyberg said.

A comparison between this year's Toys R Us catalogues in Sweden and Denmark, where Top Toy is also the franchisee, showed that a boy wielding a toy machine gun in the Danish edition had been replaced by a girl in Sweden.

Story continues below…

Elsewhere, a girl was Photoshopped out of the "Hello Kitty" page, a girl holding a baby doll was replaced by a boy, and, in sister chain BR's catalogue, a young girl's pink T-shirt was turned light blue.

Top Toy, Sweden's largest toy retailer by number of stores, said it had received "training and guidance" from the Swedish advertising watchdog, which is a self-regulatory agency.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

09:50 November 24, 2012 by lewni
Oh please.
22:13 November 24, 2012 by prospektor
Oh God, Sweden, what are you doing?

By the way, sorry for mentioning God, I'm sure this is somehow offensive for people of different faith and/or atheists. And I sure don't want to be bitten by all the different "watchdogs" that are calling the shots nowadays, at least in Sweden.

Does it qualify as a hate crime when I don't agree with those measures and think they are not even hysterical, but might even turn out damaging for the children? It increases chances of mis-imprinting of role models due to lacking gender identity. But then again, there's nothing wrong with being gay or feeling "in the wrong body"! Even if it's man-made. But I guess psychotherapists and sex reassignment surgeons need to make a living somehow.
04:49 November 25, 2012 by WhiteRabbit1807
This is wrong on so many levels. This is not "gender neutrality." This is nothing more then an attack on men for being men. They are inflicting mental harm on a large group of children. That is classified as genocide. "Gender neutrality" is code for male-bashing
05:50 November 25, 2012 by Emerentia
The pictures show a boy in a chef's hat cooking something, how could that be offensive to anybody? Or a boy with a vacuum cleaner. Do you walk around in restauarants yelling at chef's to stop cooking, that they must have some problems with their "gender identity"? Or if a guy vacuuming his own apartment? Or parenting his own child? A boy cooking isn't a attack on men for being men. It's just a kid, playing with normal stuff that adult's do, kids like to do that, you know? If a little boy likes to cook, and want's a toy stove for christmas, and he only see little girls on those pages he might think that boys shouldn't cook. Both me and my brother played with toy stoves, cars, dolls, lego, toy guns, action figures etc and I wore clothes in all kinds of colours, and none of us has had any need for psychotherapists and sex reassignment surgeons, I promise you. I think that children should be able to play with what ever toys they like, and wear any colours they like without adults judging them.
10:02 November 25, 2012 by useronthenet
I think it's vary brave of them to show that household chores belong to both sexes. Sweden and it's citizens are equal and therefore anything to promote equality must be a plus. If you don't like this protrayal of neutrality perhaps Sweden is not the best place for you,
13:36 November 25, 2012 by leciat
wouldn't gender neutral be girls and boys both with dolls instead of "banishing" girls from the dolll pages?
11:54 November 26, 2012 by jack_sprat
I would guess, leciat, that there will be no direct response to your question, ever. As the despair grows among those who are no longer allowed to speak, how long before the twisted things some of them will in consequence become spurs them to some more drastic "solution" to the "problem" that too much testosterone poses to the Swedish race? No doubt some female scientist (or submissive male) will come up with an elegant and "humane" way to rid them of those pesky testes in early childhood, if not in the womb. Then, everybody can be truly equal. Well, once they also figure out how to transfer the babies to them, as if they were seahorses.
19:59 November 30, 2012 by tadchem
Depicting chidren with toys according to historically conventional roles is far less offensive to me than the realization that "political correctness" is now influencing commercial marketing decisions.

Toy dealers, your job is to sell toys to children. Any restrictions that others may wish to impose on you about how to do that job can only diminish the effectiveness of your job if you accept them. The PC police don't care about your bottom line. They are sexists themselves, anyway.
13:25 December 8, 2012 by sigurd
This reminds me of the Egalia school in Stockholm:

Egalia is a school in Sweden that practices "gender netutral" education. Little boys and little girls will not be told about puppy dog tails and all things nice but rather pink, toy guns and other gendered attributes of childhood are banned.


Yes, equality is a great thing, but equality *imposed* from above is, simply, absurd.
13:21 December 9, 2012 by oceangirl
I have to say that the outrage over this is just too funny. I have a daughter and a son very close in age. They have always played with each other's toys. However, I couldn't give my son a "girl" toy, because he would worry about what other kids would think. The message that there are certain toys for boys and certain toys for girls is old and needs to be thrown out with trash. This change is not to take the masculinity away from the boys but to give them the freedom of choice. This is to say that it's ok for a boy to play with a doll or a girl to play with a blue truck. Kids should be able to play with any toy they want without feeling like they are doing something wrong. They are "toys". I gave my son a baby doll when his sister was a baby. He wanted one. He followed me and took care of his baby the way I took care of his sister. I did not take his masculinity or turn him gay. If anything, I have sent my children the message that they are free to be who they want to be regardless of their sex. This is what this company has done, and I applaud them for it. Remember, the ad is only an ad. They are not forcing people to buy particular toys just sending the message that people have the freedom to buy whatever toy they choose. People will still buy dolls for girls and guns for boys but maybe it will open up some comfort to choose freely.
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