McDonald's gender issues

When we are pressed for time during a car trip, we have been known to pull into the local burger place to get the children something to eat. Truth be told, we do this far too often. The son always wants a kid's meal, while the daughter has outgrown all that 'baby stuff' and gets salads these days. But that boy wants his prize with his chicken nuggets.

I've spent untold hours of my life repeating to them both "I don't buy food for the toys, you get a toy with the food" in a vain attempt to avoid that "But I got this toy last time" argument. The ploy has never actually worked, but hope does spring eternal that one day I won't hear "I want a different one!" when the toy is revealed. All this preparation and groundwork goes to waste though when the employee working the drive through window asks "Is the meal for a boy or a girl?"

McDonald's frequently does these targeted marketing promotions with their kids meals. They give the boys trucks or weapons to play with, and they give the girls dolls or fluffy bunnies to nurture, as if the boys couldn't do with some training in nurturing, or as if girls don't have any interest in trucks. (or weapons) Not that McDonald's is the only place with this problem. I witnessed a parent completely lose it once at the counter when the truly apologetic teen in the spotless uniform offered her son one of the girls toys with the explanation "this is all I have left". She drug her son screaming and stomping (her, not her son) out of the restaurant, but I think the child would have been happier to have the 'girls toy' than to listen to mom make a fool of herself in public.

For as long as I've had children I have fought a losing battle not to go to McDonald's. I don't eat there, but the children beg endlessly to go (television marketing does work) and, really, one burger is pretty much the same as any other when it comes to national fast food chain stores. When the window attendant asks the question boy or girl? I won't answer it directly. "A truck toy" or "A doll toy" is the best they will ever get from me, and I have driven off on a food order when the attendant presses me to answer girl or boy specifically. There's always another McDonald's a few blocks away. In McDonald's defense, they've actually started noting the button on the register Truck and Doll a notation which displays on the order screen, but the person on the loudspeaker inevitably asks girl or boy? every time.

You're probably wondering where this is all going at this point. Well, I'll tell ya.

I gave in to the begging again tonight and wandered by the local McDonald's. I pull up to the drive through window and notice that they've changed the marketing promo to Cars (the new Pixar film, I'll be seeing it) and they give these cars to both genders of children. Here they've built up this 15 year legacy of properly filing the children away in their correct gender roles, only to blow it with this new promo that features ONLY CARS.

Cars for girls
.

Fire that new marketing director. He's clueless. The next thing you know, they'll be giving dolls to boys instead of action figures.



2018 Mea Culpa review. I did a little refining of the wordsmithing for this one and that's it. I did want to add a link to this episode of Hidden Brain, itself a repeat of a show first aired a few years previously. Still, it makes the same case that I make about gender stereotypes and how harmful they can be. Enjoy!

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