Do we need to demand a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy at McDonald’s?
I used to feel paranoid and ashamed when I told the squawk box at the drive-thru that we wanted two boy toys with our Happy Meals. I lived in fear that the cashier would glance in the backseat, spot my two daughters in their car seats and catch me in my McLie.
“For a boy or a girl?”
Why do they ask this question? I get it if they want to know if you want pickles or mustard, but the whole gender inquiry has always perplexed me. They might as well ask, “Do you want a vagina or a penis with that little burger?”
It’s 2014. Do we still think children choose toys based on their sexual organs?
I read the other day that a McDonald’s manager took matters into her own hands and posted a sign urging her staff to do away with the whole boy-girl question. Instead, she told them to ask, “Will that be a My Little Pony toy or a Skylanders toy?” A photo of the sign was uploaded on the Do Something Facebook page, but it didn’t identify which restaurant or city it was in, so of course I had to drive straight to my local Mickey D’s to see if I had a winner.
The drive-thru at U.S. 1 and McDonald Street in Coconut Grove apparently didn’t get the memo.
“You’re not supposed to ask that!” I screamed at the voice in the box. “What?” he asked. “You’re not supposed to ask that!” I screamed. Silence.
The drivers behind me grew restless, unaware that I was confronting 30 years of super-sized gender stereotypes on their behalf.
“Boy! Boy! Give me the boy!” I shouted in surrender.
“You know, they just spit into your McNuggets,” my husband said.
Can’t we let toys be toys? Is the world going to spin off its axis if a boy wants a Hello Kitty or a Barbie instead of his mandated Transformer or Hot Wheels? Do we need to judge a little girl if she’d rather get the football helmet?
Everybody knows that the girl toys typically suck anyway. The boys always get the bendy, sword-swinging, spring-loaded gadgets that actually do something. Girls are stuck with fake lipstick or whatever can be found at the bottom of the fryer, spray-painted pink.
Case in point: The next, much-anticipated Happy Meal toys due out later this month are tied to the new movie, “Spider-Man 2.” The boy toys include figurines and a cool mask. Girls? They get a heart-shaped notepad, a bracelet, stickers or a comb. Good luck fighting super villains with that, gals.
They’re not just selling our children into obesity under the golden arches. They want to box up our daughters’ dreams, too.
Think I’m over-reacting? Each year, McDonald's distributes 1.5 billion toys worldwide. That’s more than Hasbro or Mattel. It also operates more than 8,000 playgrounds at its restaurants in the United States. Who’s the target market here? And what’s the message they’re getting?
Changing one small question about a kid’s toy preference probably won’t hurt sales or popularity. If McDonald’s won’t do it then it’s up to us parents to insist upon it. Let’s change the world one French fry at a time.