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  1. #1
    Geolectric teslashock's Avatar
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    Default Kids Sue Toys R Us: Are gender-based stereotypes "bad"?

    Apparently some Swedish kids are suing Toys R Us for perpetuating gender roles and making kids feel like they are mandated to behave in a manner that parallels these gender roles. A Toys R Us catalog showing pictures of girls in princess costumes and boys in superhero costumes are among their many complaints.

    Article Here

    Upon initial contemplation, I find this to be pretty silly. Most girls enjoy playing with dolls and dresses, while most boys enjoy playing with GI Joes and legos. That doesn't mean that girls can't or won't play with "boy toys" or that boys can't/won't play with "girl toys." Or does it?

    Thoughts?

    Are the toys of one gender any better than the toys of another?

    Is it "bad" to openly communicate gender stereotypes?

    Is there something wrong with marketing tools aimed at stereotypes if the stereotypes are in place for a reason?

    Do these kinds of marketing tools perpetuate stereotypes and make certain groups feel oppressed?

    What kinds of potential negative consequences can come from stereotyping and marketing based on stereotypes, especially marketing aimed at kids?

    Discuss.

    EDIT: They filed a complaint, not a lawsuit... mah B, mah B. Most of the stuff I'm interested in discussing has nothing to do with the legality of the issue anyway though.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Bamboo's Avatar
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    Putting aside social/societal effects, I don't see how you can win this case. (I also don't have any familiarity with the Swedish legal system.) Can you sue someone or an entity for making you feel a certain way?

    Can one MAKE anyone feel anything? Or is the burden on the one who is doing the feeling to feel what they choose? In a legal sense, the first case is acknowledged by the US legal system, in the case of "assault", where someone is made to believe that they could be put in harms way. You can be charged with assault without actually touching anyone else, but by just acting in a manner that is threatening to another person (limitations apply). Actually hitting them would be battery, or the more familiar assault and battery.

    So hypothetically, this case would be "an assault" on the children. But instead of being put in harms way, they are being threatened with a certain implicit expectation to buy certain goods, an entirely voluntary action.

    The case is junk, just a publicity stunt.
    Don't know how much it'll bend til it breaks.

  3. #3
    Was E.laur Laurie's Avatar
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    Next thing you know someone will be making me feel like I have a vagina!

  4. #4
    Senior Member Bamboo's Avatar
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    Default

    Also, I just skimmed the article, after writing the above.

    They filed a complaint, not a lawsuit.

    Last winter, a sixth grade class at Gustavslund school in Vxj in south central Sweden reported Toys"R"Us to the Reklamombudsmannen (Ro), a self-regulatory agency which polices marketing and advertising communications in Sweden to ensure they are in line with guidelines set out by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).
    This changes the situation.
    Don't know how much it'll bend til it breaks.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Bamboo's Avatar
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    But putting aside the legal implications now, you have to ask: how else should they advertise?

    Should they only make omni-sex toys? Only display ads with both boys and girls? But isn't it just good business to target your market?

    Is it offensive if Ferrari doesn't include 70 year old grandmothers in their print ads? Or does it just make sense that they're going to target guys with lots of cash who want something fast and flashy?
    Don't know how much it'll bend til it breaks.

  6. #6
    Geolectric teslashock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bamboo View Post
    Putting aside social/societal effects, I don't see how you can win this case. (I also don't have any familiarity with the Swedish legal system.) Can you sue someone or an entity for making you feel a certain way?

    Can one MAKE anyone feel anything?

    The case is junk, just a publicity stunt.
    This was my initial reaction too. It seems kind of tyrannical to punish somebody for feeding into and implicitly believing in stereotypes. I mean we all do this to an extent; that's why stereotypes continue to thrive in the first place.

    And it's not like the Toys R Us ads are forcing girls to behave like girls or boys to behave like boys. They are just utilizing basic marketing tools to appeal to the largest possible audience. It would be pretty silly to have a toys advertisement in which boys are playing with baby dolls and dressed like princesses while girls are fighting with play swords and dressed like superman. That just doesn't really seem like effective marketing, imo. Most potential customers would be like "wtf? did corporate snort crack last weekend or what?"

  7. #7
    Nerd King Usurper Edgar's Avatar
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    The kids didn't file shit. Their stupid attention whore teacher did.
    Listen to me, baby, you got to understand, you're old enough to learn the makings of a man.

  8. #8
    Geolectric teslashock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edgar View Post
    The kids didn't file shit. Their stupid attention whore teacher did.
    10 bucks says she's an Fi dom!

  9. #9

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    Seems frivolous on the surface, but all the replies thus far reflect society's unspoken double standard...it is fine and even encouraged for girls to cross over and play with GI-Joe toys while wearing their favorite superhero costume, but it is NOT fine for boys to cross over and play with Barbie toys while wearing their favorite Princess costume.

    I am not familiar with the specific incident and don't need to be, as it wouldn't have any bearing on my belief that gender stereotypes are one of the many archaic human behaviors preventing the progressive evolution of our species.

    Hence, I applaud the Swedish children and their 'attention whore' instructors for their brilliance in confronting the issue from their position of strength as consumers. Toys R Us, a mass-market retailer, will only perpetuate for itself an identity that mirrors the majority views of it's consumer base, and cannot be expected to make it's own determinations on whether those views are sound or questionable. If it wishes to remain in business, it will adapt according to feedback from it's consumers...

    Toys R Us has recently proven itself as I've just described. In the US, Toys R Us was recently confronted about another 'gender issue' related to it's advertising. A cultural anomaly that has recently become popular in the US is the idea that it is acceptable to depict amusing portrayals of boys as stupid, socially inept, and generally intellectually inferior to girls. Apparently, Toys R Us advertising began to reflect this trend to a degree that was deemed objectionable by a segment of it's consumer base. Said segment apparently drew up a petition and submitted it to Toys R Us, who promptly apologized and took action to eliminate both the offending portions of it's advertising and the ideological notions of it's marketing department that it was an appropriate way to promote the corporation.

    Perhaps this is all meaningless drivel, but then again perhaps gender-based double standards and broad-sweeping speculations on intellectual inferiority have compound effects when focused upon children.

    Quick to judge...unable to perceive...such is the way of the masses.

  10. #10
    Crazy Diamond Billy's Avatar
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    I am hoping there is some form of tort reform there and when they shoot down this retarded suit whoever filed it is required to pay the Toy stores legal fees.
    Ground control to Major Tom

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