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From me to you, highlighting challenges faced by girls

Dear Daughters, McDonald’s Happy Meal Toys Are Not a Trivial Matter

Dear Daughters,

Joshua Riddle of wrote the following words in response to Antonia Ayers-Brown’s blog post that we wrote about in our previous post, Dear Daughters, We Are Not the Only Ones Who Do Not Appreciate Being Asked If We Want a Boy’s or Girl’s Toy With Our Happy Meals

“A crazy feminist over at Slate is writing about how upset she is that McDonald’s gives boy toys to boys and girl toys to girls.

These people dream of a world where men are no longer men and women are no longer women. God made us different for a reason. Our differences compliment one another, why anyone would want to change that is mind-blowing.

I think next time I go to McDonald’s I am going to order a Happy Meal, and if they don’t automatically give me the boy toy, I am going to write their CEO saying I am offended that their employees questioned my manliness.”

As most people do when they do not have the facts to support their statements, Mr. Riddle began by calling Ms. Ayers-Brown crazy in an attempt to disqualify her. He then says that “these people” (I assume he is referring to the “crazy feminists” of the world here) dream of a world where men are no longer men and women are no longer women.”

Mr. Riddle can rest assured that feminists do not dream of a world where men are rid of their penises and women of their vaginas, or of any of the other things that physically make us each a man or a woman.

I am sure he already knows what feminists are truthfully seeking and has written this post to elicit a reaction but just in case he is so sorely misinformed, feminists dream of a world where no one is discriminated against and choices are allowed to be made freely by an individual, and not made for them based on their gender or for any other reason.

He then refers to differences between men and women, going so far as to say that “our differences compliment one another”. The only scientifically proven innate differences between men and women are all physical. The others seem most likely due to socialization. The science is still out on that but seeing that as “cultural norms” change, so do our behaviours, I would say there is a pretty strong correlation between socialization and the differences between men and women. So what does this have to do with Happy Meal toys? As Ayers-Brown states in her post, ” The problem with Happy Meal toys may seem trivial to some, but consider this: McDonald’s is estimated to sell more than 1 billion Happy Meals each year. When it poses this question—“Do you want a boy’s toy or a girl’s toy?”—McDonald’s pressures innumerable children to conform to gender stereotypes”.

Science has not proven that boys are born loving the colours black, blue, brown and green, just as it has not proven that girls are born loving all things sparkly, floral or pink. Science has not proven that boys prefer all things competitive and full of action while girls prefer staying home and cuddling things. Yet the toys we target at boys use the darker colours, and encourage active play while the toys we target at girls are sparkly, pink and encourage nurturing behaviour.

That’s why “feminists are now at war with McDonald’s happy meals”, Mr. Riddle. Being given a toy simply because of your gender denies a child’s individual choice and teaches our future leaders that the path in life they take is limited by their gender. McDonald’s is by far not the only company delivering this message but seeing that they sell more than 1 billion Happy Meals each year, they obviously have a lot of influence over social norms. What a positive influence they could make in empowering personal choice with five simple words,

“Which toy would you like?”

P.S. To Joshua Riddle. Please define your “manliness” that would be questioned by McDonald’s not giving you the boy toy. Perhaps you should research the absolute damning effects the words “be a man” have on boys and men and how society suffers when a boy’s/man’s self-value is wrapped up in how “manly” they are. What exactly makes a man a man Mr. Riddle?

Here are a couple of links I think you should visit to begin your research:

The trailer for the film entitled The Mask You Live In by The Representation Project

The YouTube video of Joe Ehrmann speaking on “Be a Man” at TEDxBaltimore 2013

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