Kids smash Gender Roles

US-based toy retailer Toys"R"Us has been reprimanded for gender discrimination following a complaint filed by a group of Swedish sixth graders about the store’s 2008 Christmas catalogue. According to the youngsters, the Toys"R"Us Christmas catalogue featured “outdated gender roles because boys and girls were shown playing with different types of toys, whereby the boys were portrayed as active and the girls as passive”. 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.” Read on…

Photo by Cheatara


52 thoughts on “Kids smash Gender Roles”

  1. Really cute! Josh I am a big fan of your posts! We often have the same opinion about many facts!
    I would like to talk to you in a conversation. But I dont know how. I am open-minded for every suggestion of you. Do you live in Sverige now? I think very positive about Sweden and they have a beautiful nature there.
    I can talk a little bit svensk. But german I talk better.^^ Ok, Josh I would be glad about your answer.

  2. Those kids are the best. Sadly it’s voluntary for Toys R Us to follow the decision. They probably won’t change much, toy companies tend to like gender stereotyping. Check out , they’ve got a Boys’ Toys and a Girls’ Toys section. The former has superheroes, weapons, spacecraft et c whereas the latter has mostly pink toys, Barbie, princesses et cetera.

    Now that’s the american site, and the swedish christmas catalogue for 2009 hasn’t been released yet, so there’s still a possibility that at least Toys R Us in Sweden will at least change their catalogues. That would always be something. =)

  3. There is much said about the problems of stereo-typing whether it be gender, race or creed but in general it is a fact of life. The vast majority of stereo-types are pigeon-holed correctly. The ones which ‘buck the trend’ are very much in the minority and that is the natural order of things.
    I’m not saying that they are wrong or that persons ‘pigeon-holing’ stereo-types are right but in a world which is fast becoming hyper-sensitive in many respects it is a necessary part of growing up to make assessments on people for ones own protection.
    Sure you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover and you should respect individuals right to be ‘different’ but castigating a toy company for its marketing policy which is based on trends which have been successful for time and memorium is nit-picking of the highest order.

    1. AbeOrigine, we all know that for you the “natural order of things” is to be a rabid christian proselytizer.

    2. I agree, and I think it takes an idealistic person with a lot of free time to criticize something as simple as this. People really need to chill out in these issues. Its obnoxious

  4. Why not Let children be children, why do we have to have gender roles Blue for a Boy, Pink for a Girl. Let the child develop into anything they wont to be, and love them for who they are not what they are.


  5. Boys will play with girl’s toys and girls will play with boy’s toys. But when you throw the whole lot out to play down at the crick 9 times out of 10 the girls come back clean and the boys come back bleeding.

  6. This really underscores why Josh is so enamored of the Swedes. I have to say, “me too”.

  7. I agree that when seen in the context of a person’s gender identity, freedom of choice is paramount. However, irregardless of a person’s gender identity, each sex is neurologically predisposed to a particular psychology (commonly referred to on a scale of masculine-feminine). Now I’m not saying that people have no choice in the matter of gender identity or that they should conform. To the contrary, I personally don’t care if boys act like girls or girls act like boys or whichever. What I’m trying to get at, to touch on briefly, is that from a scientific standpoint, it seems a bit ignorant to suggest that “gender clichés” be done away with -on any level.

    1. Oh, I don’t mean boys shouldn’t be allowed to get dirty, bloody and so on (quite the opposite :p) and if 90% of all boys prefer to play with a toy truck rather than with dolls that’s perfectly fine of course. They just shouldn’t be taught that you’re not normal if you one of the other 10%.

    2. @mopedwill

      Differently sexed people may have differences in brain structure and activity, but it’s quite a leap to suggest that these physiological differences predispose a group of kids to construct their genders in a rigid, binary fashion in which trucks and tools are masculine and princesses and ovens are feminine. Anything recognizable to us as a ‘particular psychology’ is already socially constructed. We have no access to how gender might develop (if it would at all) if not for the arbitrary laws of gender that are reproduced in socialization. The gender and sex categories that we have aren’t simply the outcome of free choices of young people influenced purely by some neurological presence. What we recognize as male and female are almost entirely constructed, and the repetitive invocation of biological facts as proof that those genders are somehow innate is only an example of how that construction works.

      1. Sorry for not being precise, I was attempting to be brief and to the point -since this sort of discussion can get rather lengthy.

  8. I hate when adults make youngsters do politically-correct things just because its cute. Even when I agree with the point.

    I personally don’t like boys that are excessively feminine when it feels unnatural. But neither do I like the same thing in the other direction. It should be OK to be typical for your gender, if that’s simply you, but it must also be OK to be atypical.

    I mean: throwing out gender roles does not mean forcing the opposite gender’s roles on kids. Too many people interpret it as that.

    What’s even worse here is that state-regulated mandatory schools are forcing this “lessons” on young people – for two years! The lessons are also clearly biased towards feminism rather than equality.

    1. As I said above: Of course it’s fine if you happen to fit into what society made up as a gender role, it should just be as normal as everything else. I didn’t say (nor mean) that kids should be *encouraged” to act “against” the gender clichés, they should be able to be whatever they are — the point here is that we shouldn’t tell them about what is the norm and what not.

      And feminism is fighting for equality in my book :p

      1. I basically agree with donri. I get the impression that these twins are mostly fulfilling a wish of their mother. The fact that I have always been hating very stereotypical macho behaviour (including it’s imitation by some females) and often looked “too soft”, when I was a little kid, still doesn’t make me to subscribe this complaint.

        I also don’t think that feminism necessarily means “equality” as you seem to think. Not only because the so called “plain vanilla faggots” are such asskissers of the mainstream because of the influence they got from feminists. I really believe that taking revenge at the cost of boys is one of the main motivations that many feminists have. They don’t want free thinking people, but rather mental eunuchs. Let’s be more sceptical and less naive.

      2. this may be a bit off topic but…

        Josh you said “And feminism is fighting for equality in my book :p” in the USA however I beg to differ. As a former College wrestler, I have seen my sport decimated under the flag of Title 9 and the Feminist movement. College wrestling has all but vanished from the majority of colleges in USA. Mommy screams if her little girl doesn’t get more opportunity’s but doesn’t say a peep about the fact her son lost the opportunity to pursue the sport he has done all his life.

        When you take from one to give to another that is not equality..that is a quota !

        1. There are different forms of and ideas about what feminism is of course and I agree that it should be about giving everyone the same chance, not about just getting rid of one form of discrimination by replacing it with another.

        2. When the same amount of money is given to girls sports as boys sports, yes, that is equality. Sorry that you got used to boys getting 99% of the funding.

          1. I think you missing the point. I have no problem with creating more opportunities for women. I wish woman’s wrestling would catch on both the high school and college level it would help save men’s wrestling. But equality doesn’t mean you screw one group to make up for another. To justify discrimination for sake of equality is rather hypocritical. All low revenue male college sports are being discriminated against. What I do not understand is why feminist are willing to stand up for injustice against their female child , but not for their male child. Or perhaps feminist abort their pregnancy when they find out it is a male child so they do not have to make that decision. You tell me.

  9. I guess the thing to keep in mind too, is that there will be differences in each country (as Toys R us is an American). As an example, like how other companies have attempted to translate their slogans into another language, and it ends up being something weird, or derogatory. This isn’t much different.

    1. Marketing policy lost in translation?Maybe, my guess is the big corporations like Toys R US just follow any sterotyp or trend that makes them lots of money.

  10. I wish that people would just get over the whole gender stereotype thing. It’s boring if guys always act like guys, or girls always act like girls. They should be able to choose; I’m not exactly the manliest man if you know what I mean. It just gets annoying when people try to force people to be something that they don’t want to be.

  11. AGREE. I hate the whole girls=skirts/barbies and boys = dirty+no girlyness

    im such a girly boy so all of that really bugs me. =|

  12. There are places where gender is not a big deal. Look at Thailand they have schools with transgendered restrooms..

  13. Even if 9 out of 10 boys act a certain way, and vice versa, I still think it is wonderful to see portrayals of what kids (and older people) do get all mixed up. My 12 year old daughter is feeling extremely oppressed by gender stereo typing. It is having a major impact on her life, including teasing from other kids, and her having to weigh whether it is worth trying to do certain things or not given what the reaction will be from the larger world around her. When I was a boy I dressed up in gauzy cloth and ran around as a fairy, and also got all muddy in the creek. Nothing wrong with either choice and a lot more fun to be able to do both.

  14. Little girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice.
    Little boys are made of snakes and snails and puppydog tails

    We need to get over the gender stereotyping as well as some othr issues

  15. Toys R Us is a retail store. Their purpose is to make MONEY. Catalogs help them sell toys by letting the target market know what is available and showing them being played with by that target individual!!! All of this twaddle about it being sexist is ridiculous!!! They do not market Dolls in pink dresses to little boys because if they did, in general, they wouldn’t sell!! Obviously, if boy wants to play with dolls or a little girl wants to play baseball or any other sport, they will get Mommy & Daddy to buy want they want or need to do that. If Mommy and Daddy refuse to buy because it is a boys or girls toy, it is Mommy and Daddy who are being sexist NOT the toy store!!

    1. But maybe kids don’t even dare to ask their parents for toys which are unusual for their gender because they are growing up in a soceity were you get teased if you don’t fit into your gender role? And mindless retailers lie this don’t really help getting over clichés like that.

  16. STFU. Stop ranting about random stuff Josh! People come here for one reason and one reason only!!! To see the pics and vids, they dont want to listen to your stupid opinion! Just give more pics and stfu about the other stuff…

    1. That really wasn’t called for.

      Keep doing what you do Josh. I come here for your statements just as much for the images you share with us.

  17. Gener roles were needed in the years of humankinds hunter-gathering era. Women needed to have children and tend to the local area. Men having the better biological capacity for strength and brawn would go catch the food that moves, which wasn’t always successful and also took all day. Which is why men and women evolved to their specific gener roles.

    In a world of apparent strict rules of nature we see minute flaws. We see a fish with lungs, two male penguins trying to mate, apes with unseen mental capacityable to fasion and use tools, trade and negotiate. At the time these would be seen as deviations of normality but in hind-sight its just evolution.

    Women can now vote, black people have equal rights. We look back and wonder how we could have ever been so blind. In 50 years time, we will look back at this time and what will we see? Gay people barred from marriage? Children forced to adhere to ancient stereotypical roles?

    Our own intelligence is our own blindness. We need to look at what nature is telling us.

  18. Thank you Donri for stating what should be obvious to all but apparently is not! Some teacher steered these kids into this letter writing campaign! Kids that age don’t come up with stuff like that on their own !
    Kids (everyone for that matter) should be taught to question everything and not accept what anything without having a reason to accept it as true. Unfortunately, parents and teachers are authority figures who don’t want their authority questioned. So they try to impose their attitudes on young people rather than teach them objective thinking and how to examine a situation to reach their own conclusions.
    Don’t get me wrong, I think everyone should be free to be who they are and what they want to be. I just don’t think that’s what this letter writing campaign is really about.

    1. “Kids that age don’t come up with stuff like that on their own !”

      Did I mention that you should stop seeing teenagers as dummies without any ability to think for themselves? Oh yeah, I did…

  19. A 13 year old human brain is FAR from fully developed! The human brain does not reach full development until around age 18. I’m not saying they are dummies! I’m saying their have not fully developed their ability to reason at that age. The lack of a fully developed ability to reason is why YouTube is full of videos of teenagers doing very stupid dangerous things!
    Obviously some humans never develop the ability to reason which I guess explains people like Johnny Knoxville! :)

    1. What? I don’t know about you but I’m pretty sure that me and my classmates were able to come up with stuff like that at the age of 13. Thinking about it now I can say that I’m actually sure that we were and that we did.

    2. YouTube is full of people of all ages doing stupid and dangerous things, not just teenagers. It’s entirely likely there are more videos of teenagers, but I think this would reflect more on the YouTube demographic rather than society.

      1. Evolution at work. As stupid aggressive people kill them selves off mankind should finally see the day when nobody will say “Watch This”.

  20. I’ve always hated the whole manly guy thing, it’s so annoying the idea that you must be sporty you must wear blue (a colour I hate), you must be the very best, the quickest, the strongest, have the biggest penis, ok some of this is for later in life than what this article is about but that is my own personal hatreds of these gender roles, and these kids brought up in these roles are going to then be forced to continue these roles in later life.

    I am a guy, I would say I am fairly feminine, my name, Blondie is what a friend decided is my girl’s name so now I am quite fond of it, I also like really romantic stuff or really emotional stuff but at the same time I am tall, broad shouldered, deep voiced and the other day I got an injury from playing bass too much, I have a masculine side and a feminine side, I would of loved to not of have been brought up with this gender role society and free to be myself and so should everyone, we are not all the same, we are all different and so we should be allowed to be.

    Saying this not sure whether making the complaint was the right move but then again what is the right move? I hope someone smarter than me works it out and executes it. By the way, cute pic.

    1. Nice post. Everyone has a masculine and feminine side, and one is often stronger than the other. Males are sometimes too fearful and insecure of themselves to let that otherside show. It works for some, but others think that to show your true self to the world is weakness and as such proclaim loudly that we should be this way and everything else should be quashed out of existance.

      1. Thank you, this was actually my first post on here so I am quite happy with this reply.

        Yeah, I think they also see “weakness” as not manly or abnormal for a guy, the other day a friend (or more ex-friend) commented on a picture where I had put on these black and pink cat ears and had make-up “whiskers”, he basically asked why did I feel the need to be so feminine, like it shouldn’t be and like I chose to rather than actually that’s who I am.

  21. A lot of people here are saying that boys and girls are born with a natural gender, but that isn’t true at all. Actually, gender isn’t set ’til about 2, and if you ask a young child if it is a boy or a girl, it will often switch the answer. Once as it reaches 2 it almost always has understood the difference between boys and girls, but gender is still being set.
    During that time we will often use many methods to push children in one direction or the other. For example, if you put a brother and sister around the same age in a room with their parents and give the children both the same puzzle, the parents will start to help the girl out faster and more often than the boy.
    As playtime is often when we set gender roles on children, our toys show this often. Girls will get toys and play games that show submissiveness and caretaking such as Barbie, Easybake Ovens, Babydolls, and all of the games where the prince saves the princess. Boys get toys that show independence, knowledge, and violence such as army men, books, and math games (well, at least when inteligence was still “popular”). These toys tell the children what we want of them and what their functions are in life. Girls are there to cook, take care of the children, and look pretty while boys are there to fight, get jobs, and further themselves. Many developmental psychologists are starting to say that we should be mixing the toys among the sexes so that all children get the best toys for preparation in life (the babydolls, ovens, books, etc.)
    The ways that we play with our children influence their relationships with others also. Boys and girls all play games that can be social, but boys play games where they connect over the game (baseball, videogames…), and girls play games where they connect over conversation (shopping with their dolls as avatars, tea parties…). When you put two boys in a room with two chairs facing one way, their playtime learning causes them to react by sitting in the chairs, facing the wall, and start talking about objects in the room. When you do the same with girls, they will pick up the chairs, turn them to each other, and talk about each other. Girls will also have the tendency to use “me too” and “mine too” as connectors in conversation, even if they aren’t true. For example, if one girl says her mother wears glasses, the other will often say “mine too,” even if her mother doesn’t. They aren’t lying for any bad reasons, they do this to have even more to connect each other.

    Now, some will say that boys and girls will end up this way no matter what you do, and it is easy to believe. Due to mass media almost all cultures have the same ideals of gender roles, so it is hard to find any cultures which can disprove the theory, but there are two examples which can be used.
    The first is a tribe in Africa (if I find my notes, I’ll tell you the name). In this tribe, the women are actually the hunters. Almost all girls in this tribe show the same behavior as the typical Western boy, and the boys show the opposite. This is because the tribe has been largely separated from outside cultures, so there was no one there to tell them which sex should be doing the hunting. When they decided to have the women hunt, their gender roles changed accordingly. Unluckily it is hard to find tribes such as these because the way the sexes are physically made make men slightly stronger than women naturally, so they are often chosen as the hunters, which leads to masculine males. But as with the rest of humanity, you will always get variances, and this tribe decided that females were better hunters, leading to masculine females.
    The second example I can name is an experimental grade school in California one of my teachers taught at. At the school, boys and girls were encouraged to wear whatever they wanted and play with whatever they wanted (all parents were taught to be open to gender variances before the school started). During play time boys and girls would play the same sports in the same groups, and things such as fingernail painting were taught to all students to teach dexterity. While the students originally all conformed to typical gender roles, once as the gender barriers were removed, the students started to show far more gender variances. There were many masculine, feminine, and androgynous genders in all of the sexes, which is very uncommon in schools where gender and sex is taught to match.

    Oh, and if you thought all of that was too much typing, I spent far too much on college and have so far learned a lot of pointless shit, so I like being able to use the rare, important education whenever I can. Although I guess that run-on sentence just killed all of my English education, didn’t it?

  22. In most places in the world a 13 year old who doesn’t conform to gender stereotypes cops shit. It’s good when 13 year olds question this, see something in mainstream culture that reinforces those stereotypes, and challenge it.

    Unfortunately their immature brains don’t understand the reality of changing the behaviour of a U.S.-based global corporation.

  23. I most of the time LURK here on the site but i had to post to this one. What everyone here is forgetting we as a species of animals are here to do one thing REPRODUCE and continue the species. MALES are supposed to be the best and fittest and most intelligent and strut it to attract the best and fittest and most intelligent females and reproduce to continue the species.

    This explains why the gender rolls do exist and why they will probably always will.

    1. I don’t quite understand your post. You say “MALES are supposed to be the best and fittest” therefore implying that they sometimes aren’t. To me it sounds like you acknowledge the presence of people not comforming to gender identity, but you dislike it. Forgive me if I am incorrect.

      Humankind is a natural creation, whether you believe in evolution or creationism we are all natural. All creatures upon the earth are natural creations and whatever they do are also considered natural. The beavers’ dam, the birds nest, they all adapt to suit their environment. When the New Zealand Kiwi or Kapapo birds forgot how to fly and walked everywhere they weren’t considers abhorations of nature. They were more vulnerable as prey perhaps, which has endeared them to us compasionate humans. Of course, there are still some who hunt them for their downy feathers. But most importantly we don’t condemn them for diverging against nature, as we know it’s just nature sometimes makes birds that don’t need to fly.

      Humans are a the point that we don’t need to fornicate for the pure reason of offspring. Gay couples may still feel the want to raise a kid, as does the Kakapo still jump out of trees thinking it can fly.

      My point being that as Humans, we are natural and gender roles is natural; yes, but we must also remember that nature will take different steps in times of plenty or of famine. The question that we are all on here is why do some people find it hard to accept natural deviation, whether gender roles, or sexuality. It’s no different from the flightless birds of Africa or New Zealand, or the Penguins of the Arctic. It’s microevolution at its finest. Look it up if you are unsure to what that means.

      Stephen Fry’s ‘Last Chance to See’ Ep 5.

  24. “Sadly it’s voluntary for Toys R Us to follow the decision.”

    What crap! Who do you think you are – the world’s fuehrere, telling everyone how to think and behave?

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