Sixth graders in Sweden file complaint against Toys R Us for gender stereotyping

FilthyGrandeur's picture

Note: Sorry for the complete lack of posts on my part.  I've got a terrible cough right now, plus asthma, so I've been trying to rest when I don't have to work since I can't afford a doctor.  I'll try to get back on track when I'm feeling better, but I just wanted to let everyone know what was up in case any one was wondering if I fell off the earth.  Don't worry; I didn't.  Enjoy the post.

Just when I think the world really sucks, it's always a sharp group of kids to totally brighten my day:

Last winter, a sixth grade class at Gustavslund school in Växjö in south central Sweden reported Toys"R"Us to the Reklamombudsmannen (Ro), a self-regulatory agency which polices marketing and advertising communications in Sweden to ensure they are in line with guidelines set out by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

According to the youngsters, the Toys"R"Us Christmas catalogue featured “outdated gender roles because boys and girls were shown playing with different types of toys, whereby the boys were portrayed as active and the girls as passive”, according to a statement from Ro.

The group’s teacher explained to the local Smålandsposten newspaper that filing the complaint was the culmination of more than two years of “long-term work” by the students on gender roles.

Thumbing through the catalogue, 13-year-old Hannes Psajd explained that he and his twin sister had always shared the same toys and that he was concerned about the message sent by the Toys"R"Us publication.

“Small girls in princess stuff…and here are boys dressed as super heroes. It’s obvious that you get affected by this,” he told the newspaper.

“When I see that only girls play with certain things then, as a guy, I don’t want it.”

Children's toys are often sources of great frustration, especially for womanists and feminists, since they're seemingly never-ending pools of stereotypical gender roles.  Toys for girls often mimic the roles of care-taking and domesticity, while those for boys often encourage aggression.  And of course there's the problematic active vs. passive.

When kids like this seek to change the world, I'm reminded that there is hope for us.  If sixth-graders can see how the enforcement of stereotypical gender roles in a toy catalog can be problematic, and a third grader can organize a rally to support gay marriage, well, that's just incredibly amazing. 

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