Culture / News & Politics

Enough, McDonalds. Enough.

Somewhere around 5:30 yesterday evening, as I ordered our on-the-go dinner, I lost it.

Somewhere around the umpteenth time when, upon ordering a kids’ meal, I got asked, “for a boy or a girl?”

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Why is this only for a boy?

Somewhere around 5:31 as I gritted out, “for a boy,” because I hate having to choose, but my kid wants a toy with her awful fast food, and I just can’t stand the pinky pink pink crap they’re giving out this month.*

Somewhere, as I sat there kicking myself for not saying something because I just want to get our food and get the hell out of there, and not cause a fuss or piss off the drivers behind me.

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Or maybe it was the last time we drove through McDonalds, and had to answer the same question.

Or maybe it was the other night, as I read this NY Times article from this past fall, about a school in Sweden that no longer uses gendered pronouns.**

Or maybe it was last week when, as I signed up for a book program, they asked for my child’s gender.***

Or maybe it was when I read about friends’ kids going to school and being told [x] was only for girls, and [y] was only for boys.

Or maybe it was when I looked at childhood pictures of my brother and I, and there was no discernible difference between the clothes he and I wore, and I wondered when the hell that changed.

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Okay, really, it’s been longer than any of that. I’ve always sort of quietly soldiered on, and done what I could for my own family, within reason. But it seems like recently we’ve been absolutely bombarded with the idea of boys vs. girls, and I. have. had. it.

Of course, what to do with “it,” I have no idea.

All I know is this: my daughter loves pink and dresses, and twirling around and getting her nails painted. And she loves cars and balls and kicking and running and demanded a truck sticker at the doctor’s office, after telling the doctor she was going to be a pirate when she grows up. And I dread the day that somebody tells her that either of those things is “for” her or “not for” her, because they’re for boys or girls. I know that day is going to come. I’m not naive. But I can’t help but feeling like she – and we, as her parents – are woefully underprepared for how to handle that.

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Nothing quite like being outraged and feeling helpless.

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*sidenote: I don’t always say, “for a boy.” Depending on the toy, I get the “girl” toy. I just go with whatever I think she’d like better. Tonight’s – a dragon – was a hit.

**n’s school hasn’t ditched them entirely, but does refer to groups of children as “friends” and a lot of the other things referenced in that article, which makes me a Very Happy Parent

***I DID say something then, upon which I was reassured that it’s not used for book assignment – everybody gets the same – but instead to personalize emails. To which a co-worker commented, what, they can’t just say “your child’s book is on the way” rather than “his book” or “her book” is on the way?

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  1. If you haven’t read this article about the history of gendered kids’ clothes, it’s a good one:

    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/When-Did-Girls-Start-Wearing-Pink.html?c=y&page=2

    “When the women’s liberation movement arrived in the mid-1960s, with its anti-feminine, anti-fashion message, the unisex look became the rage—but completely reversed from the time of young Franklin Roosevelt. Now young girls were dressing in masculine—or at least unfeminine—styles, devoid of gender hints. Paoletti found that in the 1970s, the Sears, Roebuck catalog pictured no pink toddler clothing for two years.”

    Why did that have to change?

  2. Clearly every franchise is different. Did you see this bit of news about this particular McDonald’s and its support of transgender rights? http://on.aol.com/video/washington-mcdonalds-supports-transgender-rights-with-bathroom-message-517750184

    So, they can’t all be bad…unless you watch Morgan Spurlock’s “Super Size Me” which I don’t recommend you watch if you are someone who can never unknow things.

  3. I hadn’t seen that, thank you!

    And I suppose I could have worded my title better, as it’s not that McDonalds specifically is pissing me off, so much as all the accumulated aggressive genderization.

    (and trust me, as a family who works a lot, has odd hours, and a small child, we give them plenty of our hard-earned cash. :D)

  4. I am so with you on this— I think it is my new road rage. And, yes, not just McDonalds, it seems to be everywhere and practically everyone. Thanks for the NYTimes article– I hadn’t seen it or heard of the school.

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