By now you’ve probably heard about the new children’s cartoon show called “Shezow,” featuring a 12-year-old boy named Guy “who uses a magic ring to transform himself into a crime-fighting girl” wearing “a purple skirt and cape, as well as pink gloves and white boots.” And to change from boy to girl, he just says the magic words, “You go girl!”
Another harmless TV program for the little ones? Not on your life. This is yet another attempt to blur gender distinctions and to celebrate transgender identity. And in this case, the target audience is very young, aged two to 11.
Lest you think I’m simply a fundamentalist, right-wing, frothing-at-the-mouth, gay-conspiracy-theorist (I’ve been called worse than that!), let me remind you that the largest toy catalog in Sweden went gender neutral last year. Yes, Top Toy Group released a 2012 Christmas catalog featuring girls playing with Nerf guns and boys playing with princess dolls and using hairdryers to dry girls’ hair. (This link has pictures.)
Matthew Day reports that, “In the past the company, which holds the franchise for the Toys R Us and BR-Toys chains, has fallen foul of regulations in Sweden prohibiting sexist advertising.
“The advertising standard ombudsman had previously criticised the company for producing a television commercial which spoke of ‘cars for boys, princesses for girls’.”
The company has now made its amends, said Jan Nyberg, sales director at Top Toy, explaining that, “With the new way of thinking about gender there is nothing that is right or wrong. A toy is not a boy or girl thing; it's a toy for children.”
Indeed, “The Scandinavian country has strived to foster a culture of gender neutrality, and any advertisement deemed sexist faces legal sanctions or, if not, the wrath of angered Swedes.”
In keeping with this, schools have been charged with breaking down gender stereotypes, a gender neutral pronoun has been introduced (pronounced “hen”), and parents are being encouraged to give boy’s names to their girls and girl’s names to their boys. I kid you not.
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.