Saturday, October 10, 2009

What Swedish kids get taught

From Sweden, the land of the genderless:

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.

Last winter, a sixth grade class at Gustavslund school in Växjö in south central Sweden reported Toys"R"Us to the Reklamombudsmannen (Ro) [advertising ombudsman].

According to the youngsters, the Toys"R"Us Christmas catalogue featured “outdated gender roles because boys and girls were shown playing with different types of toys, whereby the boys were portrayed as active and the girls as passive”,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. [ed: they spent two years on this!]

So having different toys for boys and girls is now considered "outdated" in genderless Sweden. And girls playing with dolls is thought to be merely "passive" whilst boys playing with cars or train sets is thought to be "active" and therefore superior (just shows what priority the Swedes give to motherhood, which presumably is also denigrated as a "passive" occupation).

Why? One of the indoctrinated children gives it away:

Classmate Moa Averin emphasized the importance of children being able to be who they want even if “guys want to be princesses sometimes”.

This is the liberal idea that we should self-determine who we are, and therefore not be defined by unchosen gender roles, so that boys have the "freedom" to choose to be princesses.

Never mind that this is a spurious, trivial freedom for sixth-grade boys and that the real freedom is to actually be allowed to be a boy and to be guided toward a strong, well-developed, productive manhood.

There's more:

According to the Ro’s advisory committee, the Toys"R"Us catalogue “discriminates based on gender and counteracts positive social behaviour, lifestyles, and attitudes”.

"... the catalogue portrays children’s games and choice of toys in a narrow-minded way, and this exclusion of boys and girls from different types of toys is, in itself, degrading to both genders,” Ro said in a statement.

Better obey the Toy Kommissar. Don't want to fall into those negative social behaviours and lifestyles, such as having little girls play with dolls.

Some of the reader comments on the news item were interesting. Not everyone is buying into this aspect of liberal modernity:

Swedes are lovely people, but their insane obsession with political correctness and social engineering is turning them into a bunch of weirdos, and they will accrue that reputation around the world if they don't watch it.

Advertisers spend a fortune on advertising goods. They should not be hidebound by the pseudo-intellectual political ideology of extreme liberals, or by any other group - they should be free to advertise as they see fit so long as they are not being obscene etc.

Like it or not, most toy trucks are sold to, and played with by, boys, and most toy kitchens are used by girls. The loony ideologues may not like that, but it is true, and if advertisers are reflecting the real world rather than the utopia of fruitcake liberals, then they should be applauded, not chastised.

This reader was also less than impressed by the Swedish drive to androgyny:

This is the way I look at it, I've been a female for 48 years. I'm glad I'm a girl. I would much rather be a female than a male, especially as a kid. And I have a feeling that if I asked everyone I've ever known, they would also say they were glad they were the gender they are.

I ENJOYED playing with "girl stuff" as a kid. Only thing that I didn't like is that my brother's GI Joe had a tent and Malibu Barbie didn't. So Barbie stole his tent. Besides...it went better with her camper. It had camping stools, a lantern, sleeping bags..all kinds of good stuff. Also, my brother would have rather DIED than someone force him to play "girl stuff." He LOVED his Tonka trucks, he LOVED being a cowboy.

If the people of Sweden would take time off from doing sex research (as someone who worked in medical research at Hopkins for 15 years I've seen tons of their articles in journals) they would see the overwhelming majority of the world like who they are ... Check out the Swedish research and medical advancements, that's the majority of what they concentrate on. So...I guess it's no wonder they're teaching their children that differences in the sexes is wrong. Remember folks, God created TWO DIFFERENT sexes. If he wanted us to be like amoebas and not have any sexual differences, we wouldn't have all these different parts each sex likes so much on the other one.

It isn't "degrading," as the Swedish authorities put it, to treat boys and girls differently - as they really are different, and mostly happily so.

14 comments:

  1. My experience as a father has been that you don't have to teach boys to like trucks, airplanes, rockets, and construction equipment - they naturally like these things! Boys do not want to be princesses, they want to run around and play in the dirt.

    As for girls, playing with dolls is a very "active" activity if you watch them do it. The problem is that it conflicts with the demands of crazy Leftist ideology.

    The Swedes are crazy.

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  2. Sweden is a genderless society?

    Somebody evidently forgot to tell all those macho Arabs and Muslims now inhabiting Malmö and other Swedish cities. The rape epidemic in those places clearly shows that they never got the message.

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  3. (I may have posted this anecdote here before.) My two younger children, a boy and girl, were once observed playing with toys. Somehow the boy had two of his sister's dolls, but they were attacking each other and fighting a battle. The girl had a couple of her brother's dinosaurs, and they were having tea time.

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  4. Mark, have you ever checked out the organization Christians for Biblical Equality? Their blog is available here http://blog.cbeinternational.org/

    They use, among other Scripture, Galations 3:28 to claim that Christ has ordained the abolition of gender roles. Briefly put, they mistake the spiritual unity of Christians, expressed through the body of Christ, for a call to earthly, physical unity, expressed by sexless (and of course raceless, classless, etc.) interaction between individual Christians.

    The French New Right, White Nationalists, Neo-Nazis, etc. usually blame Christianity for the decadence and destruction of the West, not just because of a loss of gender roles, but also because of racial and ethnic dissolution and social egalitarianism.

    CBE and the pagan Right make me wonder: do the folks at CBE represent the root or just another expression of Liberalism in the West? Are they the modern heirs of a long, corrupting tradition within Christianity that has always justified and advanced the liberalization of the West? Or are they merely collaborators with the current regime, comprising our faith out of political expediency?

    Have you ever addressed this question or is this beyond your interest/ken?

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  5. Bartholomew, an excellent question which I don't often address (but Lawrence Auster has at times).

    I don't believe that Christianity is to blame for liberalism. A serious Christianity is incompatible with a serious liberalism. A serious Christian believes that God created the world and made man in his image. There is a moral order ordained by God that we are to orient ourselves toward. A serious liberalism sets itself against all this. Liberals want to believe that man makes himself in whatever image he prefers, and it is through this that a kind of subjective value is added to human life. An external moral order becomes a hindrance, a restriction on human self-creating choice, that individuals are to be liberated from.

    There are certainly individuals within the Christian churches who recognise the incompatibility of liberalism and Christianity. However, a lot of parishes just go along with the reigning liberal orthodoxy.

    One final point. I don't think that Christianity says it all when it comes to traditionalism. The Christian tradition as it has come to us deals with certain things, but leaves much alone - and that "much alone" has to be dealt with from outside the church.

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  6. Bartholomew, the Christian site you linked to is extraordinary - they really have made it their prime mission to make gender distinctions not matter - just like liberals do.

    But why does anyone need a church to do this? The liberal state is already on the case. Why not just leave it to the powers that be and go to the footy or watch telly?

    I think this ministry is mistaken if they think they're going to make themselves more relevant by preaching this message. They're just going to lend more authority to the existing secular culture.

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  7. Mr. Richardson,

    Thanks for your thoughtful response to my question. The question of Christian culpability has troubled me since embracing a traditional worldview: how, after all, could something so beautiful and so noble be also destructive and evil? It's a fundamental contradiction. Surely, you are correct that Christianity and Liberalism cannot be identical.

    But whence Liberalism? I'll have to take a look at what Mr. Auster has written on the subject. Thank you for the recommendation.

    Also, yes, the CBE are radical. I think they are like the Swedes of the American Church, at least as far as advancing a genderless existence.

    You wrote, "I think this ministry is mistaken if they think they're going to make themselves more relevant by preaching this message. They're just going to lend more authority to the existing secular culture."

    Strangely, they seem to think that "lending authority to the secular culture" makes them relevant. And, I suppose they are relevant as collaborators to the current regime. It is difficult not to use stronger language to describe them.

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  8. "But whence liberalism?"

    Read "A Conflict of Visions" by Thomas Sowell. Christianity is inimical to liberalism and is hardly the source of it.

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  9. Well, if a bunch of 13-year-olds say that the store is discriminating, then it must be true.

    Couldn't they exercise the ultimate freedom and simply not read the ad or shop at the store?

    BTW, Finns see Swedish men as faeries.

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  10. The French New Right, White Nationalists, Neo-Nazis, etc. usually blame Christianity for the decadence and destruction of the West, not just because of a loss of gender roles, but also because of racial and ethnic dissolution and social egalitarianism.

    CBE and the pagan Right make me wonder: do the folks at CBE represent the root or just another expression of Liberalism in the West? Are they the modern heirs of a long, corrupting tradition within Christianity that has always justified and advanced the liberalization of the West? Or are they merely collaborators with the current regime, comprising our faith out of political expediency?"

    I think it's a bit silly to suggest the nationalist far right are leftists - nationalist 'blood and soil' thinking is the opposite of liberalism.

    The pagan far- right are perhaps best described as radical traditionalists (ie, the traditionalist equivilant of radical liberals like communists) They reject christianity because its not traditional enough for them and they want to get back to classical cultural values, but in doing so they are advocating the removal of2000 years of western christian tradition. And in practice of course, the Fascist right has done enormous damage to other liberal-skeptic political positions.

    The far-right have a point, we need to hold on to, or perhaps rekindle, some classical cultural values. However, we need reconcile them with traditional Christian and modern liberal values rather than abandon the later traditions and return to some semi-mythical past.

    Liberalism does seem to have been inspired by some Christian concepts like universalism, but Christianity did exist quite happily with classical ideas until quite recently, so there's no need to reject Christianity to challenge modern liberal values like egalitarianism.

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  11. Mr. Courtman,

    Thanks for the comment.

    As for your reply that, "I think it's a bit silly to suggest the nationalist far right are leftists - nationalist 'blood and soil' thinking is the opposite of liberalism."

    I certainly did not mean to imply that the Far Right and the Liberals were one; indeed, I was remarking on how odd it is that two so diametrically opposed movements have triangulated their fury on a common target: the Church.

    I suspect that it has to do with their exaggerated and therefore skewed worldviews, both of which, though different, end up effecting the same thing: opposition to the traditional, Christian order.

    But yes, I agree that the Far Right and the Liberals are as different from one another as night is from day.

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  12. I live in Sweden I can tell you this stuff is mostly by mass media for the mass media, only journalists and politicians care in reality. Only 6% of Swedes voted for the socialist party last election, but about 60% of journalists voted for it, so journalism is full of weird stories like this that don't seem to be like the country I live in, even though i know it is supposed to be sweden.
    Kids can play with what they want, and you can sell any toys you want to kids, it just gets beaten out of control by mass media.
    Everyone in Sweden except some journalists, lawyers and politicians (extremist feminists) realize there are differences in men and women. These extremist feminists are a very small group maybe 1% of population, and almost only in the cities.
    Sweden isn't as weird as the media makes it out to be. Most parents let their kids play with any toys they like.

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  13. Johan,

    Thanks for writing in. I expect you're right, that these ideas are taken much more seriously by the political class than by ordinary Swedes. Still, it must affect at least some Swedes, such as those children raised by liberal parents in the larger cities.

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  14. A little late maybe. And sorry, but my google account didn't work. It's very interesting to read your article, and even more all comments.

    As a Swede though, I have to react. First of all, you ask yourself why the kids at this school worked with gender issues for 2 years. Silly question, of course. You understand pretty well they worked with this as one of several projects in social science.

    Of course boys and girls are different but have you ever looked in a Toys'R Us catalog and asked yourself how a girl who wants to play with boy's toys may feel? I'm a proud father to a daughter and she often ask herself if it's something wrong with her. I have to tell her several times it isn't. She is quite girlish, but she think boy's toys are far more interesting and some of her friends reacts quite negative to theese catalog. And I'm glad they do. For me, this catalog is laughable and it really preserve the gender roles in a very negative way.

    I also have to mention, as an answer to Swedish Johan, the journalists in Sweden, as in many countries, are more liberal than the population but it's really false to suggest 60% vote for the left wing party. It's a lie. Aprox 65% of the journalists vote for the 3 "liberals" and the rest for the 4 conservative parties, "the allianse" as they are called (and I will vote for them tomorrow).

    So don't think you have to be an extreme feminist to react to Toys'R Us' laughble catalog. I think these school kids have more in their brains than some adults.

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