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From me to you, highlighting challenges faced by girls

Dear Daughters, We Can Stop McDonald’s Genderizing of Toys!

Dear Daughters,

Seems the boy/girl stereotypes are very well entrenched in our society as you will see in this post and the following two entitled We will start with the “McDonald’s episode”. While ordering my own food at McDonald’s last week I heard a mother order a happy meal for her daughter as follows: “I would like a nugget meal with a chocolate milk, sweet n sour sauce, and a girl toy”. It rolled off her tongue as naturally and essentially as did the sauce and drink selection. I am missing some pertinent information to come to a more specific conclusion about exactly how bad this is in our fight against gender stereoptyping …I do not know whether or not she knew what toys were available. If she didn’t, this is a terrible example of how deeply entrenched society’s message that girls and boys play with certain toys has become. In this case the mother did not check on her child’s toy preference, she let society and her daughter’s gender decide what she could play with. If she did know, she most likely was trying to order quickly and efficiently knowing her daughter had already chosen the toy society deemed as the “girl’s toy” and therefore likely ordered the “girl toy” to alleviate any confusion that may have been caused by ordering it by name. Did you know that at McDonald’s the happy meal toys are actually rung in as “girl toys” and “boy toys”? Knowing this, the mother was certainly being efficient but she was also maintaining status quo. Our society categorizes toys (and clothes, and sports and careers, etc.) into “male and female appropriate” and this mother was essentially saying that this categorization system is okay with her, and/or that today she doesn’t have time to fight the fight. We have to make the time! Each time a member of society conforms to what is socially acceptable but not correct, we take major steps backwards in our fight. The labelling of “girl” and “boy” toys at McDonald’s may seem like a minor thing but it is not. It is sending a loud message to our children – that girls play with certain types of toys and boys play with other types of toys and that girls and boys who want to play with anything other than what society deems acceptable is abnormal and wrong. This is a message being corroborated by advertising and even by well-meaning parents – like the mother in this post.

With minimal effort on your part, you can make a difference in the fight of genderizing toys. When you order a happy meal from McDonald’s please:

1. Ask what toys are available

Oftentimes there is only a single toy available but the McDonald’s employees will still ask if the toy is for a boy or a girl without even realizing. I find that when I ask what toys are available employees will not even know! Apparently it does not matter because in McDonald’s opinion girls will want the “girl” toy and boys will want the “boy” toy. When the employees do respond they almost always respond with “for the girls we have…” and “for the boys we have…”. I NEVER respond with girl toy or boy toy. I ALWAYS give my children the choice of toys by name and I ALWAYS respond to the McDonald’s employee with the toy name.

2. Ask your child which toy s/he would like by toy name

Please do not ask your child if s/he wants the boy toy or the girl toy. You are reinforcing the stereotype by doing so.

3. Relay your toy selections to the McDonald’s employee by toy name, not by “toy gender”

One Comment

  1. I would have wanted the spy toys deemed “boy toys” and my sister would have wanted the princess dolls for GIRLS. I would have been subject to ridicule or teasing because I didn’t choose what was designated appropriate for me! Why should I be made to feel that my choice was incorrect? I thought I was an individual with likes and preferences and choices. I say, “McDonald’s, give our boys and girls a choice between toys, not the choice to conform or not to conform to stereotypes!”

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