Order a kid’s meal from a drive-thru, and you might hear the speaker crackle with: “Girl or boy toy?” When I was a kid, that meant the choice of Hot Wheels car or Barbie figurine, or superhero action figure vs. My Little Pony doll.
A new resolution introduced in the Michigan House Of Representatives hopes to end the practice, instead offering the choice between toy options as one of personal preference rather than gender. House Resolution 49, introduced earlier this week, states that “numerous studies have highlighted the harmful effects of gender-classified toys,” in part because “boys are more likely to play with toys that develop spatial intelligence and reasoning than girls.” The resolution therefore calls on restaurant toy choices to be presented without gendered context, and urges the transmission of this message to the CEOs of boards of fast-food chains in Michigan. Rep. Leslie Love is the lead sponsor of the resolution, with 14 cosponsors listed at this time.
That doesn’t mean fast-food chains would have to stop offering the choice of, say, Hot Wheels car or Barbie; they’d just have to avoid framing the choice as a gendered one. This sounds right to me in 2018; how hard would it be to create toys (like the Minion above) that don’t feel gender-specific at all? These days, I see plenty of young boys playing with Elsa dolls, or little girls with Transformers sets. Why make the kids feel like their choice is inappropriate if they’d prefer the toy marketed toward the opposite gender? The Hot Wheels cars were always objectively cooler than the Barbies, anyway.