Boys vs. Girls

The other day, I was in line at McDonald’s [hey, quit your judging, I wouldn’t have admitted that if it wasn’t relevant to the story] and a little girl walked past me and approached the counter. She was clasping a Happy Meal toy in her hand and seemed to be very determined, so I didn’t mind letting her step in front of me.  She waited patiently until the cashier returned and asked her what she needed. The little girl extended the toy across the counter and said something too quietly for me to hear. The cashier looked at the toy and then back to the girl and said, “This is the girl toy”.  The little girl lifted her chin slightly and stated, louder and with purpose, “I know. I want the boy toy.” The cashier looked at her incredulously but disappeared for a moment and returned with a different toy. The girl eyed her new silver and blue hunk of plastic and positively beamed as she thanked the woman behind the counter and skipped off.

Part of me felt bad for the little girl. She was forced to say that she wanted a “boy’ toy” as if it was somehow wrong for a little girl to want it. I looked over at the display to see what types of toys were featured – the “girl” toys were iCarly themed and the “boy” toys were Power Ranger themed. Now, I can appreciate the fact that, as far as fan bases go, more girls probably watch iCarly than boys and more boys probably watch Power Rangers than girls, but I don’t think that the difference is so astronomical that they fall into one category or another.  For that matter, so what if they did? Even the more stereotypically “boy” vs “girl” toys aren’t universally enjoyed by ONLY one gender or the other. No little boy has ever wanted to play with a Barbie? No little girl ever wanted a Transformer?

The strangeness of calling iCarly and Power Rangers toys “girl” and “boy” toys really irked me for some reason. Why not call them “iCarly” or “Power Rangers” toys?

“Can I have two Happy Meals please?”
“Are those girl or boy Happy Meals?”
“Would you like iCarly or Power Rangers Happy Meals?”

I don’t think the difference is going to ruin the lives of McDonald’s employees everywhere – I’m pretty sure they can handle the few extra syllables, and the two themes of the month are always on prominent display somewhere very close to the counter in case they forget – and it might help avoid imprinting children with unnecessary gender stereotypes.

Don’t worry, moms and dads, they’ll still get plenty of it – in clothing departments in stores, toy commercials on television, etc – but why not let this one go?

Now, I know this sounds fairly preachy and political, and I assure you that I am no die-hard feminist. I’m all for equal rights, don’t get me wrong, but I actively avoid getting too involved in politics, generally. It stresses me out and has too much negativity for me to let it into my day-to-day thinking. I’m not ignorant – I’ll read news stories if enough people mention it, I donate to HRC and get their newsletter email every day (and sometimes I even read it) – but I’m not really one to climb atop a soapbox and go on about things like whether or not a popular television show is masochistic or not.

I just don’t think little girls or boys shouldn’t feel ashamed because they want a toy that has been arbitrarily assigned to a particular gender. Growing up, I wasn’t a “tomboy”, per se. I mean, I wasn’t a huge fan of wearing dresses and there were a good number of years there that I boycotted the color pink, but I carried my American Girl doll [Samantha, because I know you were wondering] around like she was my daughter and played Pretty Pretty Princess and Mall Madness like a boss. Yet, I also loved the Power Rangers. My brother and I made up a game with his Matchbox cars that we would play for hours. I can’t even tell you how many games of Pogs I played over the years. Yet, if I wanted the “boy” toy at McDonald’s, I would tell my mother this and go hide in the booth or slouch down in the car, as if I’d get in trouble for not choosing my gender-assigned toy.

So, here’s to the little girls who worshiped the Ninja Turtles and the boys who played with dollhouses. May they someday receive the McDonald’s toy of their choosing without judgement.

End rant.

~ by Valerie Anne on 09/27/2011.

2 Responses to “Boys vs. Girls”

  1. The boy toys are almost always so much better! I do however feel a little weird ordering a happy meal for myself at almost 25 years old – I pretend in my head that I’m bringing it to a little kid somewhere and hope the cashier assumes this haha. It’s the perfect size for me though!

    • hahaha aww that’s so cute. Yeah, I’m sure the cashier assumes you have a child somewhere. It is a nice little size – the only reason I don’t get them is because I need more fries than that. I’m addicted.

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