All she wanted was a Happy Meal and the toy of her choice.
Antonia Ayers-Brown was sick of being asked if she wanted a boys’ toy or a girls’ toy with her Happy Meal at her local McDonalds store. The frustrated 11-year-old went as far as to be offended by the very question and decided to write a letter to the CEO of McDonalds in the US asking him to change the way his stores sold Happy Meals.
She explains at slate.com:
In the fall of 2008, when I was 11 years old, I wrote to the CEO of McDonald’s and asked him to change the way his stores sold Happy Meals. I expressed my frustration that McDonald’s always asked if my family preferred a “girl toy” or a “boy toy” when we ordered a Happy Meal at the drive-through. My letter asked if it would be legal for McDonald’s “to ask at a job interview whether someone wanted a man’s job or a woman’s job?”
Parents experience their own frustrations when it comes to the toys offered in Happy Meals and the power they hold over our children. Antonia's perfectly valid point is that toys shouldn't be deemed as being for boys or girls in the first place, because who is to say what is a boys' toy and what is a girls' toy?
A 'customer satisfaction representative' wrote back explaining that it wasn't the norm for employees to ask customers that question in the first place.
So Antonia started visiting random McDonald's stores and found that the question was asked more than 79 percent of the time. She concluded that most McDonald's employees asked the question. She even went as far as to recruit some of her friends to help her gather data. She writes:
In [one] instance, a McDonald’s employee asked a girl, “Would you like the girl's toy?” The girl responded, “No, could I have the boy's toy?” When the girl opened the container a moment later, she learned that notwithstanding her explicit request, a McDonald’s employee had given her the girl’s toy. This girl went back to the counter with the unopened toy and requested, “May I have a boy's toy, please?” The same McDonald’s employee replied, “There are only girl's toys.” We then sent an adult male into the store who immediately was given a boy’s toy.
She decided to write to the CEO once more. This time she heard back from McDonald's chief diversity officer, Patricia Harris, who said, “It is McDonald’s intention and goal that each customer who desires a Happy Meal toy be provided the toy of his or her choice, without any classification of the toy as a ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ toy and without any reference to the customer’s gender.” She said a notice explaining the new procedure would be on display at all McDonald's stores. Antonia writes:
While this notice does not ensure that all McDonald’s locations will stop treating a kid differently because of his or her gender, it’s a start. The problem with Happy Meal toys may seem trivial to some, but consider this: McDonald’s is estimated to sell more than 1 billion Happy Meals each year. When it poses this question—“Do you want a boy’s toy or a girl’s toy?”—McDonald’s pressures innumerable children to conform to gender stereotypes. Retailers don’t need to use girl’s and boy's categories when they can just describe the toys that are available and let kids choose the ones that appeal to them most. After all, that’s been McDonald’s stated corporate policy for the last five years.
So now McDonalds will train employees to name the toy instead of gender assigning them, all thanks to the tenacious Antonia who made the huge sacrifice of visiting numerous McDonalds stores to conduct her 'research'.
Do you have any problem with being asked if your child wants a girls' or boys' toy?