When you ask for a Happy Meal, as every non-vegan parent knows, your McDonald’s server always asks: “Is this Happy Meal for a boy or girl?”
“Why?” I asked, my first time, a new parent, totally confused.
“So we know which toy to give the child.”
The whole toy with your Happy Meal is, in itself, gross and disturbing. And in spite being a carnivore, I’ve only subjected my family to the experience a couple times usually because my kids got a glimpse of McDonald’s plastic playground from the freeway by our house. As depicted and deconstructed in the film “Supersize Me” Happy Meal toys are relentlessly marketed to kids during any cartoon they happen to be watching not on PBS. That’s right– you’re up against Hollywood, the fast food industry, and TV.
But nutrition aside, if you go to McDonald’s right now and you are lucky enough to be a boy, your server will offer you 15 choices from which you can pick your toy. If you are a girl– one. You don’t get a choice.
If a brother and sister– or God forbid, a boy and a girl who actually hang out together in spite of being told by the universe they are radically different species– go to McDonald’s together, what are these little kids learning about who is important, who has options as far as her identity and who doesn’t?