I took the kids to McDonald's for dinner yesterday. They know I'm not a big fan, so it's always super exciting when I deign to take them there. "Mom must really love us if she's willing to buy us Happy Meals." It's what advertisers have been hinting at since the era of Mad Men.
We scoped out the toy fare as soon as we got there. The "boy" toys were cool Hot Wheels cars with air compressors (technical name: squeezy things) to make them shoot across the room. The "girl" toys were miniature stupid Barbie dolls.
When I asked the kids which toys they wanted, both of them said the cars.
The cashier asked me about seven hundred times, "You want two Happy Meals. Both boys?" And then he looked past me toward my children, who are obviously not both boys.
"Both boys," I said. "Actually, make that three boy Happy Meals." I was not going to miss out on scoring my own rad Hot Wheels car.
Shaking his head, he rang me up. As maybe sort of an acknowledgement that he knew what I was doing, he gave us one blue car and two fuchsia ones (which the girl one and I were happy to receive; fuchsia takes a back seat to no color).
It's mid-August, the kids are just starting to go back to school, and Costco already has its Halloween costumes out. In the past, the store has carried full-length princess dresses on the cheap, complete with wands and crowns and petticoats. The real deal, so at least we were sort of able to look past the blatant sexism.
This year? Off-brand, generic, princess-esque mini-dresses. Oh, and a fairy or two.
The boys? They get superheroes and astronauts and ninjas.
Left with only these choices, the girl one wanted to be an astronaut (assuming this Rainbow Dash was off the table).
Some girls toys are getting better. The Lego Friends line contains so many awesome components (gems! animals!) that my son has already put a few sets on his Christmas wish list. But Toys 'R' Us is still segregated into those pink and blue aisles. Blue = imaginative, challenging, creative; pink = mindless, hyper-sexualized, focused on beauty and care-taking. We avoid those pink aisle like the plague (unless it's to look at My Little Pony shit, because My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is EVERYTHING).
The thing of it is, anything that's really worth having (i.e. the Lego Friends stuff or the Melissa & Doug food and kitchen nonsense or the art supplies) is over in those blue aisles. The toy sellers know what they're doing. These are the good toys (blue), the ones we're going to put front and center in our store, and this is the crap we're going to hide in this corner over here (pink).
And people wonder why women still feel marginalized in this country.
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