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Sun Dec 2, 2012, 11:49 AM

In Sweden, Playtime Goes Gender-Neutral For Holidays

This holiday season, how about a toy gun for the girl on your shopping list, and a doll for the boy?

That vision of gender-neutrality in toy-buying is coming to life in Sweden, where Top-Toy Group, a licensee of the Toys "R" Us brand, has published a gender-blind catalog for the Christmas season.

On some pages, girls brandish toy guns and boys wield blow-dryers and cuddle dolls. Top-Toy, a privately-held company, published 12 million catalogs and owns the BR Toys chain, with 303 stores in Northern Europe.

Sweden's top advertising watchdog—known as Reklamombudsmannen, or RO—has taken the retailer to task in recent years for catalogs and ads that showcase girls playing with dolls, scrapbooks, and kitchen and beauty toys and boys with guns, cars, trains and tech gadgets. RO also has criticized Hennes & Mauritz AB, HM-B.SK +0.65% owner of the H&M chain, for ads with bikini models who were too tan.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324205404578147373422297406.html?mod=e2tw


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Reply In Sweden, Playtime Goes Gender-Neutral For Holidays (Original post)
morningfog Dec 2012 OP
nessa Dec 2012 #1
morningfog Dec 2012 #2
frazzled Dec 2012 #3
JNelson6563 Dec 2012 #4
frazzled Dec 2012 #5
JNelson6563 Dec 2012 #7
morningfog Dec 2012 #6
Brickbat Dec 2012 #8

Response to morningfog (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 11:54 AM

1. If I gave any of the little boys I know a toy hair dryer...

They would immediately pretend it was a gun. My mom gave my nephews a doll house. It was big, and not cheap. It was destroyed in less than a week. The boys played 'tornado'.

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Response to nessa (Reply #1)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 12:01 PM

2. The point is to not restrict any child in their choice of toy.

That is how I see it. If a boy doesn't want a hair dryer why would anyone get one for him. The same for a girl. I wouldn't get a kid a toy they are not interested in. Similarly, I would get a kid a toy that they were interested in, regardless of which gender it has been stereotyped for.

The point is to not make those children who don't have gender-normative interests feel ashamed or embarrassed. Even better is for society to not view it as something strange or wrong.

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Response to morningfog (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 12:03 PM

3. It doesn't make the toys any more palatable (to me at least)

I'm not a fan of either guns or wig-styling toys.

That said, I have to laugh remembering my own kids (a girl and a boy) and their toy preferences. My daughter was obsessed with dinosaurs from the age of 18 months or so and up till, honestly, she was like maybe eight or nine. Never played with dolls, but she had a whole menagerie of T-Rexs, brontosauri, plessiosasurs, triceratops, etc. My son used to want to play with her doll house, which she rarely used (except to enact scenarios of her baby brother's illness and eventual death). His favorite thing to get when we took him to the toy store were math workbooks. I used to get desperate, trying to get him to like a toy boat or a puzzle. I was so afraid the checkout person was going to think I was one of "those" mothers who push their kids into effete intellectual pursuits. No, he just was obsessed with math (finishing his Ph.D. in it now) ... and, of course, doll houses.

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Response to frazzled (Reply #3)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 12:14 PM

4. Kids are funny. :)

I enjoyed reading about yours. I too have girl & a boy and it's fun to reflect back on how they were as kids and where they are in young adult-hood. (I was sorry to read of your loss. )

Julie

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Response to JNelson6563 (Reply #4)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 12:19 PM

5. Oh, there was no loss!

I should have written that more explicitly: it was just my daughter PRETENDING that her brother got sick and died. That was her only use for her dollhouse: to act out intense sibling rivalry!!

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Response to frazzled (Reply #5)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 12:51 PM

7. Ah, ok.

Glad to hear it.

Julie

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Response to frazzled (Reply #3)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 12:21 PM

6. I agree with you on these toys being rubbish.

I also loathe any marketing to children. I do see the societal value, though, if we are to be saddled with such ads, to have them be inclusive.

Edit: Thank goodness there was no loss!

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Response to morningfog (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 12:52 PM

8. Love it.

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