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 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.
According to the youngsters, the Toys 'R' Us Christmas catalogue featured outdated gender roles because boys and girls were shown playing with different types of toys, whereby the boys were portrayed as active and the girls as passive ,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.
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 .
Upon reviewing the case, the Reklamombudsmannen agreed with the sixth-graders complaint, and have issued a public reprimand of the toy retailer.
According to the Ro's advisory committee the Toys 'R' Us catalogue discriminates based on gender and counteracts positive social behaviour, lifestyles, and attitudes . Specifically, the committee found that the catalogue feature boys playing in action filled environments
while girls are shown sitting or standing in passive poses .
Taken together, 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.
The public reprimand has no accompanying sanctions for Toys 'R' Us.