Boy Toys? – Happy Meals from The Clone Wars

By the time I pulled out of the driveway today on my way to practice my Yoda training with Jedi Ganner the horse, I had dallied around a little too much. I was running late and I was hungry. Being a certified geek girl, my first thought for a quick meal brought me to the conclusion that, child or not, a Happy Meal would fit the bill – because of course The Clone Wars are again the featured franchise tie-in toy.

So I pull into the drive-thru, order the happiest meal on Earth, and I’m asked, “Boy toy or girl toy?” (Apparently, Strawberry Shortcake is also currently gracing Happy Meals.) 

I’m not sure if I should have a beef with McDonald’s actual corporate viewpoint, or rather if this is still a cultural bias they think they’re just catering to. Regardless, my mindset when addressing these kinds of silly biases is to confront them straight on. So my answer to the young male voice in the speaker was, “Girl toy – Clone Wars, please.”

Unless I actually get into see their icon-laden computer screens, there’s no way of knowing if McDonald’s tells their employees to input the toy request as “boy or girl” instead of “Star Wars or Strawberry Shortcake.” But I expect that they do use the gender labels, because they’re constantly switching from one promotional tie-in to the next and they wouldn’t want to be updating the names on the register and retraining their employees what to say every week or two. The real key, though, is that it’s undeniable that for decades McDonald’s has always been marketing two sets of toys simultaneously because the uberfranchise believes one of each is necessary to serve both genders.

They may be serving fast food, but convenience is no excuse for prejudgment. What they should be asking each ordering customer is “Clone Wars or Strawberry Shortcake?” Yes, I know the other way is simpler.  But if you think about it, naming the products isn’t just helpful because it avoids pernicious assumptions and gender-bias.  Saying the name of the tie-in toy would actually reinforce the marketing value of the cheap little product.

When I drove around to the window, the young man seemed a bit puzzled after he tossed in the toy and went to hand me the Happy Meal box.  He actually did a double-take.  So I talked to him about it.  I assured him that this girl wanted a boy’s toy; that women like Star Wars, too. 

His answer, “Good to know” and a thumbs up. Who knows, maybe that tip will help him get a date to the prom next year.

Lesson learned: Don’t get mad, get happy, when confronted with bias formed from a lack of awareness.  Sharing a little knowledge goes a long way toward creating understanding.

Author’s Note – The toy, in case you’re wondering, was a purple lightsaber.  Blade color of Mace Windu and Jaina Solo.

Fangirl

Tricia Barr took her understanding of brand management and marketing, mixed it with a love of genre storytelling, and added a dash of social media flare to create FANgirl Blog, where she discusses Star Wars, fandom, and the intersection of women within Star Wars fandom. She is co-author of Ultimate Star Wars and Star Wars Visual Encyclopedia from DK Publishing, a featured writer for Star Wars Insider magazine with numerous articles on the Hero's Journey. Her FANgirl opinions can be heard on the podcasts Hyperspace Theories and Fangirls Going Rogue.

Tricia Barr's novel, Wynde, won the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror Ebook. She was also part of Silence in the Library's successful all-female creator science fiction and fantasy anthology Athena's Daughters, which is available now. For excerpts and tales of her adventures in creating a fictional universe, hop over to TriciaBarr.com.
Fangirl

Fangirl

Tricia Barr took her understanding of brand management and marketing, mixed it with a love of genre storytelling, and added a dash of social media flare to create FANgirl Blog, where she discusses Star Wars, fandom, and the intersection of women within Star Wars fandom. She is co-author of Ultimate Star Wars and Star Wars Visual Encyclopedia from DK Publishing, a featured writer for Star Wars Insider magazine with numerous articles on the Hero's Journey. Her FANgirl opinions can be heard on the podcasts Hyperspace Theories and Fangirls Going Rogue. Tricia Barr's novel, Wynde, won the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror Ebook. She was also part of Silence in the Library's successful all-female creator science fiction and fantasy anthology Athena's Daughters, which is available now. For excerpts and tales of her adventures in creating a fictional universe, hop over to TriciaBarr.com.

6 thoughts on “Boy Toys? – Happy Meals from The Clone Wars

  • July 9, 2011 at 10:39 pm
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    Nice, purple lightsabers are awesome. A very diplomatic resolution to a potentially stupid problem.

  • July 9, 2011 at 11:03 pm
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    An interesting experience, and I’m glad the McDonald’s employee took it well.

    :| I never realized they classified toys that way, though…

  • July 10, 2011 at 6:59 am
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    Really like the response from the young man at McD’s. A moment’s worth of education can go a long way if someone is willing to listen.

  • July 10, 2011 at 7:29 am
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    Yeah, I just picked up two happy meals for my sons on Friday – blue and purple. In some ways I prefer when they have a girl and boy toy – it means I’ve got twice as many options. Part of it is that my kids are young enough not to complain if they get the supposed “girl” toy – in fact, at times they’ve specifically asked for it (usually when it’s a stuffed animal). But McDonalds is definitely just a small symptom of the toy industry in general – all you need do is walk into Toys R Us to see the division in toys. Boys can’t like Dora – that’s why there’s Diego.

  • July 10, 2011 at 10:48 pm
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    All too common. I just picked up one for myself…thought about saying the same, but since I’m not a girl, it probably would have been too confusing.

  • July 11, 2011 at 12:13 am
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    Something like this happened to me a couple of years ago when i stopped into a McDonald’s to score some Clone Wars stuff in a Happy Meal. The employee was going to give me the iCarly Happy Meal. I’m an adult and I had no kids with me…I’m old enough to be iCarly’s mom. I probably shouldn’t even know who the hell iCarly is. But the server was making an assumption based on the fact I was female. So I spoke up and asked for a Star Wars one instead, heh heh.

    It does remind you that society still thinks women/girls can’t possibly like this sort of thing.

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