Boys playing with dolls. Girls playing with guns. In some places, you’d get brutally picked on for being “that kid.” Growing up, my mom did a pretty good job of making the toy store a free for all. I had baby dolls, LEGOs, “boys'” microscope labs and spy tools, but most of all, I had boxes and boxes of toy food. (Food is culturally gender neutral, right? Better yet, isn’t everything actually gender neutral.) The world is in a less-than-perfect state when people can’t enjoy their hobbies without being subjected to two levels of criticism.
The first is that they must be queer for stepping outside of gender norms, the second is that being queer is bad. It should be common sense that anything that exists is normal by the mere incident of existing. The overwhelming presence of queer people and girls and boys who have a YOLO, IDGAF attitude about playing sports, wearing makeup and defining themselves by who they are, not by societal conventions suggests that that kind of behavior is, in fact, normal. As a culture, we’re far from ahead in moving passed holding onto these “traditions.”
Swedish toymakers are stepping up their game. Top Toy, one of the biggest toy distributors in Sweden, has created a gender neutral toy catalogue. Traditional gender roles are reversed and neutralized with a boy feeding a baby doll, a girl shooting a nerf gun and a boy and girl playing with a dollhouse.
“Top Toy has produced children’s Christmas catalogues in Denmark and Sweden for both Toys R Us and BR. Though the catalogues’ page layouts are the same in both countries, the gender of the pictured kids is reversed in the Swedish edition. ‘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,’ Top Toy director of sales Jan Nyberg told TT news agency. The Danish catalogue showed a boy wielding a toy machine gun, which was replaced by a girl in the Swedish version. The ‘Hello Kitty’ page of the Swedish catalogue also replaced a girl with a boy, and a one girl’s pink t-shirt was turned into light blue.
Though Top Toy was criticized for promoting gender stereotypes in 2008, instead of being brats about it, they heard the criticism and decided to promote a healthier image of identity to their highly vulnerable, young consumers.
[Images Via. RT.com]