ONTD Political

Daily Fail finds out Swedish toy companies X-mas ads are gender neutral!

7:40 pm - 11/27/2012
Dolls? They’re not just for girls: Swedish toy firm forced to become ‘gender neutral’ for Christmas catalogue.

  • Top Toy pictures girls holding guns and boys holding baby dolls in catalogue.

  • Comes after company was criticised for discrimination in previous catalogue.

  • Sales director: 'Gender debate in Sweden so strong that we had to adjust.'

  • Sweden's largest toy chain has been forced to become ‘gender neutral’ by picturing boys holding baby dolls and girls brandishing toy guns in the pages of its Christmas catalogue.

    Top Toy - which holds the franchise for Toys R Us - made the move after being reprimanded by the country’s advertising watchdog for ‘gender discrimination’ in a previous catalogue, which featured boys dressed as superheroes and girls playing princess.

    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Denmark, where Top Toy is also the franchisee, showed that a boy wielding a toy machine gun in the Danish edition had been replaced by a girl in Sweden.

    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.

    "We have produced the catalogues for both BR and Toys R Us in a completely different way this year," said sales director Jan Nyberg.

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

    He added: "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 Headline from Daily Fail is ridiculous and does not reflect what the toy company actually said. There was actually one news story about this in Sweden 2-3 weeks ago but no one cared. Most comments are males being afraid that we're "feminasing" young boys and that Sweden is not "thinking of the children" enough!

effervescent 28th-Nov-2012 05:38 am (UTC)
Yup, I think he is, it looks like one my grandparents had for the small cousins in my family :)
tabaqui 27th-Nov-2012 11:19 pm (UTC)
From what the sales director said, 'forced' seems a bit strong. But oh well - nice to see a company actually paying attention to this!
rebness 27th-Nov-2012 11:29 pm (UTC)

Let's get this straight: we're supposed to be up in arms because little girls are depicted playing with toy guns and all those fabulous kinds of toys I desperately wanted as a child, and had to wrestle from my brother?

Won't someone think of the children and force toys on them they don't want to suit The Daily Fail's latest crusade? :(
the_physicist 27th-Nov-2012 11:33 pm (UTC)
Yeah, well... the source. What to expect really from the commenters there? >_>

And it sucks for the kids who can't get to play with the toys they want because of some kind of gender deterministic bullshit. So it's good the catalogue is changing stuff, I wish more of them did. And without only doing it after being criticised, but at least they are doing something, I guess. :/
othellia 27th-Nov-2012 11:37 pm (UTC)

This girl looks all kinds of fierce. I like to see someone from the Daily Mail just try to her gun away.
rebness 27th-Nov-2012 11:53 pm (UTC)
Love it! :D
scolaro 28th-Nov-2012 06:36 am (UTC)
This is the kind of picture I want to see in EVERY bloody toy catalogue...
caketime 28th-Nov-2012 07:52 pm (UTC)
maladaptive 28th-Nov-2012 01:04 pm (UTC)
It's funny because I had tons of Nerf guns as a kid, so when I saw this picture at first (on another website where the article came after) I didn't think twice. Then I scrolled up and realized: despite knowing lots of other girls with Nerf guns, I had never seen an advertisement with one. Ever. And it blew me away.
skellington1 28th-Nov-2012 09:29 pm (UTC)
Ditto. I had a nerf armory, courtesy of my uncle -- it took a moment to remember that I wasn't the target market, and that some people apparently STILL find the idea of a girl with a foam arsenal disturbing.
othellia 29th-Nov-2012 02:06 am (UTC)
Me too. And the same with Legos, K'Nex, electric toy cars, anything science related...
bleakwinters 28th-Nov-2012 04:33 pm (UTC)
I wanna be on her team in the Nerf apocalypse!
moonshaz 28th-Nov-2012 09:11 pm (UTC)
Bad ass little girl is bad ass! :D
johnjie 27th-Nov-2012 11:39 pm (UTC)
NOne of those kids seem like they're being forced to play with those toys...they all look pretty happy tbh

ANd when I was a kid, I can distinctly remember playing dolls with my boy friends and water pistols with my girl friends, as well as vice versa. If a kid likes a toy, they'll play with it.
alicephilippa 27th-Nov-2012 11:49 pm (UTC)
Aw teh poor Daily Fail is all butthurt at a Swedish Toy vendor actually breaking the gender mould. It's long past time thay moved into the 1990s let alone the 2010s.

Here in the UK there is a chain of toy stores 'The Entertainer'. They have threem main areas, an eye searingly yellow area for preschool toys. Guess what the other two are? Bright blue for 'boys' toys and a nice(!) bright pink for the girls. It's quite quite sad really, but I'm sure the Daily Fail would love them for upholding the standards of gender stereotyping.
malikxbakura 27th-Nov-2012 11:57 pm (UTC)
Most of the independent toy shops in Southampton, England are the same :/ If you're a girl, it's bright pink for you!
ragnor144 28th-Nov-2012 12:11 am (UTC)
Children absorb what society says about gender roles at an amazingly young age. Some of the biggest gender fascists I've ever met are three year olds. I'm all for showing them that there aren't "girls" toys and "boys" toys. My 9 year old daughter can't wear her favorite Pokemon shirt to school because many boys make fun of her for wearing "boys' shirts.
the_physicist 28th-Nov-2012 01:12 am (UTC)
My 9 year old daughter can't wear her favorite Pokemon shirt to school because many boys make fun of her for wearing "boys' shirts.

I honestly think the problem is getting worse, not better, from everything that i hear. kind of scary to think that. :/
maladaptive 28th-Nov-2012 01:08 pm (UTC)
Same. I never got razzed for being a tomboy, except in 6th grade people called me a dyke because I didn't have any crushes on boys or it was the default insult, I guess. And I had no problem getting my hands on boy's toys and no one seemed to judge me for playing with hot wheels or trains. All the men I ran into in the hobby thought it was awesome that I played with RC stuff (I didn't realize there were no adult women who weren't wives until I'd outgrown the hobby). I remember there was a pink doll section, but I didn't feel so much like an outsider picking up boy's things. And some girl's toys-- e.g., littlest pet shop-- were not in the pink part of Toys'R'Us. IIRC, they were with the animal toys.

The policing has gotten so much worse, because at least I grew up in a "girl power" era. I wonder if what we're seeing is the backlash against daring to tell little girls they can be awesome too.

Edited at 2012-11-28 01:09 pm (UTC)
the_physicist 28th-Nov-2012 01:16 pm (UTC)
i mean, with teenagers and adults I had issues, but as a small kid? one or two things at most. i remember not being allowed to play with toy cars at this one kindergarten before we moved abroad. quite traumatic apparently XD .

but yeah, same as you, i simply never saw the point in dolls or the stuff in the 'pink' section at all. I was always in the gender neutral or boys section. my sister was mostly the same, but she did want dolls too was the only difference, so she got one. i think my parents were glad i wasn't interested, because they are so expensive :/ . mostly i played with trees and dirt tbf.

i look back at photos of 6 year old self and many were dressed in tights, dresses, patent black shoes, hair done up nicely... and i was wearing really cheap jeans, broken sports shoes and oversized shirts. there were others who didn't have expensive clothes either, but they were still more feminine. no one teased me about what i wore or did with my hair though, not until i was older did people have 'opinions'. nowadays i think people are far more critical of kids and the kids are aware of stuff like fashion. i find it really worrying, personally. :(
maladaptive 28th-Nov-2012 01:30 pm (UTC)
I had a few dolls, but I think it was mostly due to my little sister and a few Barbies that interested me-- I think I had two Keikos and that red bathing suit Barbie with the chatty dolphin. Also all the Barbie horses and mermaid Barbies. I just didn't like playing with people figures-- I was aaaaall about the toy animals and vehicles.

I don't think there's really toy animals anymore. Not like there were when I was a kid. They're mostly deformed cartoons like the new Littlest Pet Shop or electronic things, most likely also highly stylized (old LPS was pretty stylized but they were at least recognizable as a real animal, unlike the modern ones). They were such a huge part of my childhood it's kind of jarring to look into the toy aisle at Target and see nothing that caters to the interest. Don't little girls still love horses? Where are the horses!?

i mean, with teenagers and adults I had issues, but as a small kid?

Aaaaah story of my life. It wasn't even that bad, I just didn't learn how to dress myself/femme it up until college when I had to dress myself daily (uniforms make it hard to learn fashion!) And it was only in sixth grade PE that a few girls called me gay. I was like wtf but now I wish I could get in a time machine and thank them. They knew almost a decade before I knew.
the_physicist 28th-Nov-2012 01:56 pm (UTC)
dolls just didn't interest me at all either. toy animals all the way, definitely. and yeah, the modern stuff looks horrible, but then i don't want to be all grouchy, lol. these things change... and with the internet i'm sure any toy anyone ever wanted could be found on ebay. XD i really feel kids don't need all that many toys anyway. i think i had far too many and mostly i played with the stuff i made myself anyway. i had the most fun playing with leaves and dirt, like i already said. the old chicken coop was awesome too. all i needed was a few plush toy animals or paper birds i made myself to play with around the house or somewhere outside and lacking even that, stones did the trick. i just imagined they had animal souls trapped inside them or that they were mice.

Aaaaah story of my life. It wasn't even that bad, I just didn't learn how to dress myself/femme it up until college when I had to dress myself daily (uniforms make it hard to learn fashion!) And it was only in sixth grade PE that a few girls called me gay. I was like wtf but now I wish I could get in a time machine and thank them. They knew almost a decade before I knew.

ah, uniforms would have been both good and bad for me... wish i could say it wasn't so bad for me, but i had pretty much the worst time imaginable. just glad highschool doesn't last forever and i could get the hell away from everyone and get myself to the UK for university. not having much of a life because i was too busy studying to try and get the grades for UK university was definitely worth it! this country rocks (compared to all the others i've lived in).
skellington1 28th-Nov-2012 09:36 pm (UTC)
It does seem like that, doesn't it? I don't remember any of it that clearly from when I was a kid -- I mean, I remember there being a Pink Aisle at the store, but my little brother had a doll and I had legos and everyone pretty much played with whatever they wanted. Granted, my mom hates gender essentialism with a near-blinding passion, so she was actively on the look-out for it, but... still.

I have twin cousins, 6 years old. Their parents are also actively on guard for sexism/essentialism, but in their peer group there are people who vocally questioned their choice to buy a toy kitchen for their boys. A kitchen. (Aunt gave them what-for, and suggested maybe their boys ought to learn culinary survival skills, too).

The twins themselves seemed pretty much unaware of gender segregation until they went off to preschool, and then almost immediately they started explaining to their parents about 'girls' colors' and 'boys' colors', and stopped wearing necklaces when they played dress up. It was sad.

Naive me. I remember thinking this shit was obviously stupid and would get better.
the_physicist 28th-Nov-2012 10:14 pm (UTC)
I think many things are getting better actually, but it's just this... gender stereotyping with young kids? That seems to be getting worse for some reason. I would cautiously blame the increasing prevalence and role of mass media.
recorded 28th-Nov-2012 10:33 pm (UTC)
I think it's going to continue to get worse. It has a lot to do with the objectification and sexualization of young girls that is ever so disgustingly trendy.
the_physicist 28th-Nov-2012 10:51 pm (UTC)

some times i really wish i could control the media, just so i could ban shit like that from being promoted.
recorded 29th-Nov-2012 03:25 pm (UTC)
Me too. I honestly just cannot fathom. You know some of those people who CAN make a difference & are in charge have young daughters... It's just disturbing to me.
caterfree10 29th-Nov-2012 11:53 pm (UTC)
I'd have punched the boys, tbh. Or, at the very least, bitched to a teacher or my parents to get them to back the fuck off (I wasn't a particularly confrontational child, heh). I knew I was the only girl who loved pokemon in elementary and I still loved the shit out of it (and will unto forever, fuck the police). Hell, it still pisses me off that McDonald's had pokemon as the "boys' toys" when they were running it over the summer even though when Burger King had them, they never once separated them by gender. I swear, we're going backwards on this shit.
ragnor144 30th-Nov-2012 12:29 pm (UTC)
I really wish McDonald's with go with "toy 1" or "toy 2" options. To their credit whenever I'm inside with my daughter standing next to me they still ask which toy instead of assuming.

Unfortunately I have to pick my battles at the school. Right now my daughter is getting shit from other kids about being an atheist - they badgered her when she tried to not answer them about her religion. Any other school in the district would be just as bad as this one on the crap she gets, but the rest are also dominated by classism, which is the one thing this school doesn't have.

These boys are really shooting themselves in the foot. Teen guys often say they want gamer girlfriends, but you are dissing my Halo-playing daughter. Idiots.
caterfree10 1st-Dec-2012 04:03 pm (UTC)
I think that'd be a lot better too. Though I have to admit, I wonder if they'd pose the same question if the child in question was male due to the double standard that girls can like boy or girl things and boys only like boy things. :T

Ugh, yeah, I can't blame you for having to pick your battles. Religious battles are tough enough and adding much else on top of that would just make it worse. >_<

GOD, ikr? Like I'd want to talk to guys who are gamers, but most of the time when I brought up Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, or Pokemon, I was dismissed as a "real gamer" because I didn't play FPS games (I never bothered mentioning I sucked at them, but yeah). Hell, I kind of wonder if that on top of my not owning a home console since the PS2 have been what's kept me from getting a job at Gamestop every time I've applied. :/
bluelarkspur 28th-Nov-2012 02:20 am (UTC)
There is nothing that kills the Christmas spirit faster for me than seeing little kids asking for non-gender normative toys at the mall and their parents getting angry or embarrassed.
pamelalillian 28th-Nov-2012 02:25 am (UTC)
oh god! my goddaughter was denied a toy only bc her parents didn't want to buy it and she said if it was pink could i have it?
ughhhhh i get so angry, toys are toys dammit!
fallingmallorn 28th-Nov-2012 07:04 am (UTC)
Oh, I know! I work in retail, and I always hear the parent (usually moms) say to their kid, "No, you can't have that, that's a boy's/girl's toy", and want nothing more than to tell the kid that yes, they can play with whatever they want, as long as they're having fun and are safe. We tell our kids all the damn time they can be anything they want to be, they can do anything they want to do...except they can't play with toys outside restrictive gender norms, even if they actually like them?

The best thing I ever saw at work was this British family come in to buy matching outfits for their family...and all the brothers and the dad were buying pink costume tutus and sparkly pink hats so everyone would match.
pamelalillian 28th-Nov-2012 02:23 am (UTC)
Yay Sweden!

Their education system is about being gender neutral and that's all kind of awesome. I didn't have the boy toys or girl toys issue at home. I had ninja turtles and princess dresses, doll houses and creepy crawlers kit. No one died so...

I had a dad take issue with me because I let his toddler boy play with a baby doll *rolls eyes*
liliaeth 28th-Nov-2012 03:25 am (UTC)
Hell I used to play with dolls alright, except for the part where me playing with dolls meant dressing them up as ninjas so they could have adventures fighting bad guys and kicking ass.
tallycola 28th-Nov-2012 04:42 am (UTC)
FORCED, or decided to appeal to their entire consumer base because it's good business sense?
mermaid88 28th-Nov-2012 07:06 am (UTC)
i'm all for it.
as a kid, i always thought that k'nex and legos were The Best, and Hot Wheels tracks were like rollercoasters. and i remember having this awsome (garishly colored) neon pink and purple super-soaker that made shooting noises. but one thing i never noticed was brought up in an article i read awhile back somewhere; the topic was similar, but mainly about kitchen playsets being mostly geared towards girls. my own personal solution? think of Food Network Channel. at 22 years old, i would TOTALLY deal out cash for a 'Iron Chef Kitchen Stadium playset (includes talking timer!)'.
the_physicist 28th-Nov-2012 02:01 pm (UTC)
i actually recently read they were selling more kitchen toy sets to boys in the UK because of the 'Jamie Oliver' effect or something. but i don't know if they are getting the pink sets or if the shops are brining out 'boy kitchen ranges'. :/ part of me thinks that if they aren't doing that, it's only a matter of time.
maladaptive 28th-Nov-2012 01:11 pm (UTC)
Forced! omg the feminists/PC brigade/social justice warriors are stealing the company's free speech! They held the catalogue for ransom until the toy company complied with their demands! ;-;
redstar826 28th-Nov-2012 02:24 pm (UTC)
lol let's be real, if you have kids of both genders that are close enough together in age, all the toys tend to end up mixed together anyways at some point. My brother and I always played with each others toys.
the_gabih 29th-Nov-2012 12:34 am (UTC)
Seriously. And since all my male cousins were older than me, and I used to get all their hand-me-downs, I had a lot of cars and trucks and stuff.

(What continues to amuse me is that when said male cousins were really little, my Mum managed to convince their right-wing Dad to let her buy them a toy tea set for Christmas because 'it develops their maths skills!' What she didn't mention was that the tea set would be quite as cutesy as it was...)
the_gabih 29th-Nov-2012 12:32 am (UTC)
forced to become ‘gender neutral’

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