So I told you that I’d let you know how McDonald’s responded to my query about gender bias and Happy Meal toys. This is what they said:
Thank you for taking the time to write McDonald’s and to share your thoughts with us about our Happy Meals. First, please be assured that none of our toys are meant to be gender-restricted. Rather, all of our toys are meant to be enjoyed by all our younger customers—both girls AND boys.
When we offer a Happy Meal with two different themes, our employees have been specifically trained to ask customers which of the two toys offered that week they would like, and not whether they would like a “girl” toy or a “boy” toy. I’m sorry if you’ve experienced anything different.
Please be assured, we would never want any of our promotions, games or premium items to disappoint our customers. Because you’re a valued customer, your comments are very important to us, and have been shared with our Marketing staff for their on-going review.
Which I thought was really cool.
I wrote back to thank them, and to suggest that some additional employee training may be warranted given how often we hear reports of the question “Girl toy or boy toy?” when a parent orders a Happy Meal. I encourage you to contact them too. It’s a small act of activism that has the potential to have a lasting impact on the cultural conversation about gender.
Whatever we think about McDonald’s, there is no question that their actions reverberate throughout our culture. The McDonald’s commercial aired this week featuring a gay teen was, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, meant to “recognize the diversity of McDonald’s customers in France.” When a mainstream corporation recognizes diversity of sexuality and gender, we are one step closer to broader cultural recognition and acceptance of our kids.
And, when you write to McDonald’s, don’t forget to tell them how cool they are.