First World Problems: McDonald’s Happy Meals Encourages Gender Stereotypes

Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 11.07.32 AM26Do you realize that McDonald’s is discriminating on the basis of gender through their Happy Meals? Have you taken into account the human rights violation every time an employee of McDonald’s asks, “Do you want a boy’s toy or a girl’s toy?”  Well, according to Slate this is a real world problem and high-school junior Antonia Ayers-Brown has written about her fight for social justice to rid McDonald’s of the horrors of gender stereotyping through Happy Meals.

Now before you dismiss this post as pure satire, let me assure you this story is quite real.

From the young age of 11 years old, the writer of the article chronicles her pursuit since 2008 to reform McDonald’s of its gender bias. Through written letters to McDonald’s, test studies, and even a complaint brought to the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, Ms. (or whatever politically correct title I should refer ‘her’ as) Ayers-Brown managed to have her concerns over “gender-classified toys” be heard.  A letter from the McDonald’s chief diversity officer, Patricia Harris, responded, “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. We have recently reexamined our internal guidelines, communications and practices and are making improvements to better ensure that our toys are distributed consistent with our policy.”

This was a win for Ayers-Brown in her quest to rid the differential treatment based on gender. She states, “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.”

Hmmm, it’s really hard not to get cynical about America’s youth when gender-classified toys are deemed real world problems. I wonder if this high-school junior thought about how all the money for Happy Meals that were ordered for her test studies could have been used to feed children in third-world countries who haven’t the luxury of even one meal a day. Maybe she was too preoccupied with gender stereotyping to understand that there are children in the world who do not care if the toy was boy or girl specific but that they actually could have a new toy of their very own.

It’s seems we have become a petty nation of political correctness where even a multi-million dollar company like McDonalds would pander to a young liberal activist in petty claims of gender discrimination. Have we forgot the real world problems of our day like the recent ethnic killings of hundreds of civilians in South Sudan?  What about the over 200 young girls who were kidnapped by Islamic extremists from their boarding school in Nigeria? They are feared to be used as workers and sex slaves by the terrorists and may never see their parents again.  Let’s revisit what human rights violations actually means and educate our youth on the real definition of gender justice. Gender-classified toys are not a crisis or an injustice but they are a revelation to what young, liberal America deems as first world problems.

It’s my hope that future America will wake-up to the reality of a spoiled, privileged, politically correct generation that forgets there’s a bigger world out there. That they would realize this pseudo-war on gender equality based on toys or even gender-neutral bathrooms is not social justice. But would be the future in standing against real human violations and injustices of our day, like human trafficking and honor killings.

Maybe the next time you go through a McDonald’s drive-thru and you order a Happy Meal and are asked if you want a toy for a boy or girl that you count your blessings. For there are many in the world who don’t have such simple luxuries, like a meal that comes with a toy, that we are afforded in a nation of plenty.

Julie Klose

Virginia Politichick Julie Klose is a freelance writer and blogger. Julie covers all topics related to US and foreign politics but is particularly passionate about social issues. She is pro-life and has interviewed different people and organizations within the pro-life movement. Julie has been featured on several radio shows for her conservative opinions. She is a contributing writer and content editor for When she is not dabbling in political writing, she enjoys blogging on her personal blog site at where she mixes it up about faith, family, and politics. You can find Julie on Twitter @thevelvetbrick1 or on her Facebook page The Velvet Brick.

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