My friend Nancy was pissed off. She’d just been to McDonald’s to buy her child a Happy Meal, and a server had asked, “Is that for a boy or a girl?”
“Really?” Nancy asked me. “In this day and age, there are boys’ toys and girls’ toys? It just seems so archaic to me that toys are still designated one way and another.”
I was feeling the opposite when, a few weeks ago, we stopped for Happy Meals in a rural California town. The server asked, “Strawberry Shortcake or Star Wars?” Sam and Ruby picked Strawberry Shortcake; Sam gave his to Ruby, saying “I wanted the Star Wars, but it was a skateboard, and there are no skateboards in Star Wars.” You just never know what a kid is going to want.
Nancy was bothered that McDonald’s hands out gendered toys—and that they assume a boy would want a “boy” toy and a girl would want a “girl” toy. I don’t have a problem with toys being masculine or feminine. Most kids have some sort of gender expression—often it goes with their biological gender, but sometimes, as you know, it doesn’t. So why not let kids choose their toys based on their own gender expression, rather than their biological gender?
Being the agitator that I am, I emailed McDonald’s to ask what their corporate policy is on asking The Toy Question. Are employees instructed to say “Girl or boy?” or to refer to the toys by name? Because how they ask makes all the difference. I’ll let you know what their response is, but in the mean time, why don’t you email them too?
Today the world is abuzz about a French McDonald’s ad featuring a gay teenager and the tagline, “Come as you are.” McDonald’s, thank you. And if you start to ask The Toy Question right, even more kids will feel like they can come as they are.