snappy meals

McDonald’s Toy Stereotyping: One Happy Meal With a Side of Gender Issues To Go Please

Raising My Rainbow is written by the mother of a slightly effeminate, possibly gay, totally fabulous son. She’s chronicling their journey on Queerty right here. Read up on RMR‘s cast of characters.

C.J. doesn’t want a Tonka Garage Truck, he wants a My Little Pony. C.J. doesn’t want a Hot Wheels Battle Force 5 Fused car, he wants a Barbie: A Fairy Secret doll.
C.J. doesn’t want a Young Justice action figure, he wants a Littlest Pet Shop pet. What C.J. wants totally confuses McDonald’s.

January 21: We walk into McDonald’s and order a Happy Meal. “For a boy, right?,” the cashier asks looking at C.J.

“It’s for a boy, but we would like the girl toy,” I explain, as I have to on most trips to C.J.’s favorite dining establishment.

C.J. always looks back and forth between me and the cashier with eyes that tell me that he is fearful his request for a girl toy might be rejected because he is – obviously — a boy. He isn’t concerned with what the cashier thinks; he just wants – like every four year old – to get what he wants. He breathes a sigh of relief when his wish is granted. An anxiety attack and tears are averted.


You can’t blame C.J. I mean, which toy would you rather have?

February 22: We walk into McDonald’s and order a Happy Meal. “Would you like a boy toy or girl toy?” the manager asks before seeing C.J. and saying “Oh, sorry, you want a boy toy.”

“No, no, we want the girl toy,” I said, pretending to be really pleasant.

“Oh, I just thought that since he’s a….”

“Yes, but we’ll take the girl toy,” I say loudly and firmly with a saccharin smile that says “give me the damn girl toy and don’t cause a scene.”

(Awkward moment goes here.)


Again, the choice is so obvious.

March 7: We drive up to McDonald’s and order a Happy Meal. “For a boy or a girl?” the bored voice mumbles out of the metal drive-through box.

“It’s for a girl,” C.J.’s Dad says, upset that gender identity issues are now being served with his Big Mac. As wonderful as C.J.’s Dad is about raising a slightly effeminate, fabulous son, it does bother him to call him a girl.

I told him that he didn’t have to refer to C.J. as a girl, he could have selected his words differently and suddenly we are Mr. and Mrs. Bickerson. C.J.’s Dad’s face turns red and he grips the steering wheel a little tighter. I start to giggle. We aren’t the only family dealing with such McProblems.

The very next day, my college friend C posted this on her Facebook: “I don’t like that when ordering a Happy Meal I’m asked if it is for a boy or a girl, when the question should actually be “do you want a car or a Barbie?”

Amen sister!

A handful of other moms agreed on C’s Facebook page. C’s little guy isn’t slightly effeminate, like C.J., but she explains that “other than the obvious obnoxiousness of the gender stereotyping going on, sometimes the ‘opposite gender’ toy is the better choice for my son. He knows what a stuffed bear is, not so much a Bakugan whosie-whatsit.”

C.J.’s Brother noticed that there is a Happy Meal website with fun games and activities. We pull up the site and start to register to play. McDonald’s, again, wants to know if we are a boy or a girl. I can’t explain to the computer that we have one boy who likes to play with boy toys and one boy who likes to play with girl toys. We log off.

If McDonald’s keeps this up, I’ll have to make lunch more often. Tears.