One of the few reasons I couldn’t emigrate to Sweden

They insist on trying to turn the world into a womens’ studies professor’s dystopian nightmare.

Is it discriminatory and degrading for toy catalogs to show girls playing with tea sets and boys with Nerf guns? A Swedish regulatory group says yes. The Reklamombudsmannen (RO) has reprimanded Top-Toy, a licensee of Toys”R”Us and one of the largest toy companies in Northern Europe, for its “outdated” advertisements and has pressured it to mend its “narrow-minded” ways. After receiving “training and guidance” from RO equity experts, Top-Toy introduced gender neutrality in its 2012 Christmas catalogue. The catalog shows little boys playing with a Barbie Dream House and girls with guns and gory action figures. As its marketing director explains, “For several years, we have found that the gender debate has grown so strong in the Swedish market that we have had to adjust.” (source)

Such a shame that an otherwise-awesome country has given so much control to harpies who feel the desire to get into politics to get back at their fathers for not paying enough attention to them. Swedish men, grow a pair and do something about this before things get so bad that having a pair becomes a felony.

UPDATE: I am adding a key passage from the original article, since I’m getting comments and private emails from readers who haven’t noticed what I thought was the most thought-provoking part of the article.

Children, with few exceptions, are powerfully drawn to sex-stereotyped play. David Geary, a developmental psychologist at the University of Missouri, told me in an email this week, “One of the largest and most persistent differences between the sexes are children’s play preferences.” The female preference for nurturing play and the male propensity for rough-and-tumble hold cross-culturally and even cross-species (with a few exceptions—female spotted hyenas seem to be at least as aggressive as males). Among our close relatives such as vervet and rhesus monkeys, researchers have found that females play with dolls far more than their brothers, who prefer balls and toy cars. It seems unlikely that the monkeys were indoctrinated by stereotypes in a Top-Toy catalog. Something else is going on.

Biology appears to play a role. Several animal studies have shown that hormonal manipulation can reverse sex-typed behavior. When researchers exposed female rhesus monkeys to male hormones prenatally, these females later displayed male-like levels of rough-and-tumble play. Similar results are found in human beings. Congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) is a genetic condition that results when the female fetus is subjected to unusually large quantities of male hormones—adrenal androgens. Girls with CAH tend to prefer trucks, cars, and construction sets over dolls and play tea sets. As psychologist Doreen Kimura reported in Scientific American, “These findings suggest that these preferences were actually altered in some way by the early hormonal environment.” They also cast doubt on the view that gender-specific play is primarily shaped by socialization.

The original has a lot of hyperlinks to back up the assertions. This is The Atlantic, folks, not Fox News.

32 Responses to One of the few reasons I couldn’t emigrate to Sweden

  1. DirkJohanson says:

    The new axis of evil: Iran, Sweden, and North Korea

  2. John says:

    Is this a poe? If so, it’s awesome.

  3. Observerwwtdd says:

    Do Swedish porn sites get in trouble if they show a man stroking his own cock……what about the classic female in the shower soaping up her luscious tits for 2/3 the duration of the shower….?

  4. Mark Kernes says:

    The simple fact is, the main reason boys play with guns and girls with dolls is cultural, and you don’t change the culture to one that abhors discrimination unless you start early, and that means not having ads aimed at kids (or adults who are buying for kids) that reinforce cultural stereotypes of what’s “boy-like” and what’s “girl-like.” I know some people still have difficulty accepting that many women now hold employment outside of the home and that some men are the primary caregiver for their (or someone else’s) kids, but it ain’t 1950 anymore. It’s about time kids’ ads (and the people who continue to make them) caught up to that fact.

    • Mark, the original article says otherwise, with very persuasive authority.

      • Mark Kernes says:

        Having now read the original article, it hardly sounds scientific, but rather simply a justification for a particular point of view. It refers to “studies,” but there’s not enough detail given for one to see if A) the studies have been widely accepted in the scientific community, or B) whether they’re even peer-reviewed. Then I looked up and saw the author, Christina Hoff Sommers, a right-wing jackass of the first water who nonetheless still claims “feminist” credentials. I think you’ve been duped, Marc.

        • I did not know that about Christina Hoff Sommers – maybe I have. I’ll do some more research on her, but what about David Geary and Doreen Kimura? Are they shills for the right wing too?

          Here’s a nice quote from CHS:

          “The perspective now, from my point of view, is that the better things get for women, the angrier the women’s studies professors seem to be, the more depressed Gloria Steinem seems to get. So there is something askew here, something amiss.”

          Sounds like a woman with a decent head on her shoulders.

          She seems to espouse “equity feminism,” which seems to make a lot more sense than second-wave feminism, which seems to be the kind she abhors.

          Sounds rational to me.

          • Mark Kernes says:

            Obviously, we differ greatly on that — and it has NOT been my observation that Gloria Steinem gets depressed when things get better for women, nor that professors get angrier. You would do well to take NOTHING this woman says at face value.

            • I have no knowledge about what Gloria Steinem feels. But, I would agree that womens’ studies departments do seem to get angrier, the more things get better. That may not be simply because they feel that they may be descending into irrelevancy, as she seems to suggest. In the first-wave days, it would be hard to imagine a rational and reasonable woman who wouldn’t want what the movement wanted. Second-wave got a little wacky. Third-wavers don’t major in womens’ studies, for the most part. So, what you have in the academic world is left over second wavers, and those would be closer to the edges than most — so, it might not be that they get angrier, just that the ones who aren’t pissed off anymore have gone on to enjoy their share of the fruits instead of complaining that they don’t get all the fruit.

            • Mark Kernes says:

              Reply to Marc: And yet… women are still paid at a lower rate than men for doing exactly the same job; out of 20 new committee chairs in the U.S. House, exactly one is a woman, and she was quite clearly an afterthought when the fact that ALL of the original appointees were men got a lot of publicity; several states have passed laws taking away women’s control of their own bodies when it comes to abortion and contraception… I could go on, but the point is, despite the gains they have made, women still have a long way to go before they are equal in society (and before the law) to men, so women’s studies profs have plenty of reason to be angry. I don’t see that as a *response* to their having gained more rights, but I can understand why a whackjob pseudo-feminist like Sommers would want to portray it that way.

            • DirkJohanson says:

              Mark, they don’t make 20% less at the same job as men. The statistics cited that contain that kind of disparity measure all full-time jobs in the economy. Women make certain lifestyle choices and gravitate toward jobs which are not as taxing on the schedule. Also, those statistics don’t account for health benefits which are used more by women or retirement benefits which women get more use out of due to greater life expectancy, and they don’t adjust for height-bias, which we see within the genders.

              Also, what state law do you claim is out there “taking away women’s control of their own bodies when it comes to …. contraception?”

              You seem to take as a given that women should achieve equally to men. After nearly a half-century of feminism, all sorts of new industries have popped up, and yet women can’t cut it at the top levels in them, either. Every single last top 100 hedge fund – a business which can be started from home – is run by a guy. Where is the female Steve Jobs, or Bill Gates? Your premise is absurd; men didn’t get on top for nothing; thousands of years of human history didn’t turn out the same from every corner of the earth between the genders for nothing. You want equal results, go find yourself another planet – only repression of men will bring about the type of equal result you are seeking on this one, and only stupid pussies are going to keep putting up with.

            • Dirk, this is the credited response.

    • DirkJohanson says:

      @Mark Kernes. Why stop there? Let’s end the ageism; instead of toys, let’s get kids gifts cards for spa visits, and nose hair trimmers

      • That’s a little bit silly. Kids will all eventually get old enough for spa visits and nose hair trimmers. Most kids won’t have gender reassignment.

        • Ancel De Lambert says:

          I would totally like a spa visit, you got an extra ticket? Heaven knows I could use a massage for once in my life.

    • Ancel De Lambert says:

      C’mon Mark, why do people honestly give a fuck what toys a child plays with? Are Barbies stopping women from being physicists? Do G.I. Joes prevent men from being sensitive husbands? Like Penn Gillette was told by his wife, “stop being a dick and watch your daughter get her photo taken with the Disney princess.”

      • D506 says:

        Actually, they do. If you tell a young girl that all girls are nurturing and get her an easy bake oven, and then you tell a boy that all boys love science and get him a telescope, would you be surprised to find out the boy was more likely to become a physicist and the girl more likely to be a ‘homemaker’ or some such? Toys and how we play are a huge part of our development.

        • Ancel De Lambert says:

          The only point you made was “tell a kid something, and they’ll believe it.” In no part of your argument have you shown that the toys themselves have any effect on children. I’ll paraphrase Abraham Maslow: adverts lose all power once real information is related, they cease to have an effect. (The Farther Reaches of Human Nature, 1971) Don’t want your kids screwed up by social norms? Tell them. Talk to them. Don’t blame marketers for your own (for the sake of argument) shitty parenting. After a certain point, pretty early on in fact, you have to start trusting your child to make decisions for themselves and know what they want. If your daughter wants a Barbie, don’t be a dick and not give it to her just because you “don’t want her to be brainwashed.” Hell, don’t they have a Dr. Barbie? Just call it Professor Barbie, same general idea. You’re not even lying.

          • D506 says:

            But “tell a kid something, and they’ll believe it” is exactly the point. Unless you keep kids from attending school, watching TV and looking at toy catalogues they’re going to pretty quickly figure out what society is telling them they’re supposed to do. Even in the first grade the boy playing with dolls was a pariah at best. I’m not arguing this can’t be overcome by proper parenting. But it’s hard for 6 year old to understand why the other boys are mean to him for playing with dolls.

            I’m certainly not saying you shouldn’t let your daughter play with a barbie if she wants it. I’m just saying that toys are very, very strongly gendered and what we play with us children absolutely contributes to gender disparities in different professions as adults. It’s not about individual parents, it’s about statistics.

  5. alpha4centauri says:

    I tend to test out 50/50 on those tests for gender orientation, and my preference for toys tended to defy my parents’ expectations for what I ought to want. I provided toys of various types for my children, assuming I would be raising them without being forced into societal gender expectations. It was rather startling how much they followed stereotypes despite my efforts. My son not only wasn’t particularly interested in dolls; he had absolutely no idea what to do with one. My daughter, on first seeing one, immediately started to babble-talk to it, then sat it in her high chair and pretended to feed it, without ever having seen anyone else do that with a toy. My son might try copying his sister, but he would never quite “get it” that she was play-acting and using the doll as a character in the drama.

    Every individual is on the continuum somewhere, as my own gender-orientation demonstrates, but you can’t pretend there aren’t male and female traits independent of culture.

  6. DirkJohanson says:

    You know what really gets me? Species-ism. Why isn’t it ok to just get a kid a bone to chew on, or a scratchboard and some catnip? “Catnip” – now there’s a loaded term. Like cats are supposed to like it in particular. How politically incorrect. There must be a hippopotamus out there that would love some sprinkled in her mud.

    BTW, Mark, should it really be all about what the children want? Are you so sure there is no societal value in a general atmosphere which stresses, for instance, nurturing qualities in women? We don’t let every kid in school just take sports classes and the fun stuff.

    • Ancel De Lambert says:

      Yes, and our schooling is pretty low on just about every list in every category. Clearly, we are doing something wrong.

    • Mark Kernes says:

      I’m pretty sure there’s no societal value to an atmosphere that stresses nurturing qualities in JUST women. Why not in boys as well? Won’t many of them be parents someday? And why not an atmosphere that stresses that women also can/should be interested in science and math, considering how many fewer women than men are currently Ph.D.s in math and science disciplines.

      • DirkJohanson says:

        Mark, I don’t maintain that only women should be encouraged to to have nurturing qualities; nor, of course, do we live in a society that only does so.

        As for why not an atmosphere that stresses women also can/should be interested in science and math? We already have such an atmosphere, and we’ve had it for decades. Fewer women than men PhDs in math and science reflects a few other things, not the least of which is that, by and large, women suck at them.

  7. Eric Fager says:

    RE: the study
    It should be noted that the study really didn’t say that male rhesus monkeys prefer “male” toys, only toys with wheels/internal mechanisms (and no Barbie’s Dream Cars were part of the study), and the preference for female mokeys to play with “female” toys was not statistically significant. That is, they play equally with boy and girl toys.
    There’s a pretty good discussion of it here, as well as a number of other studies cited in comparison: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2755553/

    Personally, I rather like the idea of gender neutral advertising. If most boys are going to go for “boy” toys anyway, what’s the harm, as compared to saving the outlier kids some harrassment?

    • DirkJohanson says:

      Maybe the harassment is good for them.

      A guy in my third-grade class one day said he was wearing his sister’s undershirt. It turns out what he was actually wearing was his sister’s bra, and we teased him mercilessly for it. He went on to play for the football team in high school and has a wife and kids.

      You think he would have been better off wearing bras for another 6-7 years and, when he’s like losing his virginity or something, have some hot cheerleader see him wearing a freakin’ bra? We did him a favor that day in third-grade.

  8. Eric Fager says:

    Cool story, bro. You really think he wouldn’t have figured out at any other time, in any other way, that men wearing bras was not the norm, and he should maybe subtly ask that “hot cheerleader or something” if she was into crossdressing before trying to get naked?

    • DirkJohanson says:

      We can speculate on the unknow all day. Life seems to have turned out well for him, and I’m proud to think part of the credit goes to me for the crucial role I played in administering the emotional abuse.

      • Eric Fager says:

        Ah, but one of the unknowns here is whether he’s done well because of you or in spite of you. You believe whatever you need to.

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