As I mentioned a little bit back when I was talking about my daughter playing with autistic children, I've spent a fair amount of time at McDonald's. It's cheap food, there's an air conditioned playground, the wi fi is free, and it allows my daughter to run around having fun with other kids in a secure environment while I work. The clown is good people in my book.
However, our lunch break always includes a Happy Meal, and Happy Meals come with toys. Even if the toy isn't that great, my daughter likes the present, but the gendering of toys is really starting to get on my nerves. Maybe she wants the race car more than the My Little Pony. It depends on her mood. I'm fine with McDonald's having options, but this divvying up of girls toys and boys toys is getting ever more ridiculous in this day and age.
That's why I was so happy when Happy Meal toys became all Spider-Man-based in honor of the new movie. In part it's because Peter Parker is my daughter's favorite superhero. She's watched three different animated series from beginning to end, and she was "Spider-Man as a Girl" for Halloween.
More than that, I was glad that Spidey wasn't regulated to just boys. Girls got Spider-Man masks and carrying cases and whatever else was being offered. Finally, I got to see my little girl stand equal in this one tiny, but important to both of us, instance.
Look, I know this sounds like an incredibly silly first world problem, but hear me out. Every time I have to question a cashier about the toys my daughter is listening. She's processing "this is not for you" about a whole slew of background items. Guns are not for you. Kung fu is not for you. LEGO is not for you. That's for boys. Here are your approved playthings, now go be the little princess you're supposed to be.
There's nothing wrong with being a princess, and she frequently is, but there is everything wrong with being forced to be one. When you have a little girl you have to be very, very vigilant about this sort of thing because it builds and builds and builds a wall of expectations and limited choices that has to be taken down one damned brick at a time later on.
So Spider-Man was making my meals truly happy until last week.
"Chicken nugget Happy Meal with apple slices, and apple juice please," I ordered through the drive thru. It was the end of a very long day and I was way too tired to cook.
"Girl or boy?" asked the talkbox.
"Isn't it just Spider-Man either way?" I asked.
"Yes, but there's pink or blue." My head hit the steering wheel.
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Again, there is nothing wrong with the color pink, and the toy (A small top with either a blue or pink base) was not really affected one way or the other by the gendering. Except that it is, isn't it?
It's almost like McDonald's just doesn't quite have it in them to go all the way on the subject. They simply couldn't not have a "girl" option, as if a boy can't want pink and a girl is being forced to choose Spider-Man and has to priss is up before it will be acceptable.
When we pulled up to the window the cashier saw my daughter, and went to grab the pink top. I stopped him.
"Sweetie," I asked. "Do you want pink or blue." She thought about it for a second and said blue. I could see the cashier wanting to ask if she was sure, or to mention the pink one again, but he didn't.
I'm glad McDonald's has options, OK? I'll even go so far as I say I like that McDonald's tries to balance those options. Space lasers or unicorns, Batman or Tinkerbell, it's the same reason they have a fish sandwich. Variety is a good business model.
But for the love of all that is deep fried and holy please stop this insistence that these options have a gender. It literally takes the same number of syllables to ask if my kid wants a pink or blue toy as it does to ask if she wants a girl or boy toy. I'm not asking a lot here, just that each child be assumed to have his or her own varied interests not dictated by the shape of their pee hole. I'm certain the parents of little boys would agree with me.
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