'Iron Man 2' toys at Burger King: Awesome or sexist?

iron-man-message-boardToday, Burger King announced that its promotional tie-ins with Iron Man 2 will include the Whiplash Whopper –”an intense, red-hot flavor combination featuring a flame-broiled Whopper sandwich topped with melted Pepper Jack cheese, crispy red peppers, and spicy mayonnaise” — and an exclusive collection of BK Kids Meal toys that will include “four lifestyle accessories for girls and four action-packed toys for boys.”

Now before I’d read that wording in the company’s press release, I’d gone to Burger King’s children’s site to see which toy I’d be pretending I had a child to get. I’ll admit I was drawn to the Iron Man Message Board, but not because I’m a girl – because it’s a practical option for a 34-year-old who frequently has to jot down telephone numbers from voicemails and can never find her Transformers pen. Look, I have a young niece who enjoys walking around wearing Mardi Gras beads year round, so I can appreciate that girls will likely enjoy the Lightup Iron Man Mark VI Charm Necklace, the Iron Man Mark IV Gold Charm Necklace (though not as much as that lightup one) and the Black Widow Bracelet (which lights up with your movement). But I don’t think Burger King needs to imply that only boys would/should want to play with the Cyclone Spinning Robot Drone, the Flip N’ Fly War Machine, the Construct N’ Play Iron Man, or the Repulsor Power Iron Man (a switch on his back lets you control the light in his chest!).

iron-man-charm-necklaceAm I wrong to think that Burger King should have left the genders out of that press release — let’s not forget there are young boys who like to accessorize — and simply divided the toys into action figures, jewelry, and Message Board for Adult Fakers? Or do you think the separation of toys into girl- and boy- friendly categories actually ensures happier children?

Read more: PopWatch’s Iron Man 2 coverage

Comments (395 total) Add your comment
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  • Michael

    yes, your wrong.

    • Casey

      No she’s not. It’s not a throw-your-hands-up-in-a-rage sort of thing (which I don’t think she’s implying). Simply, in this day and age there’s really no need to have gender specific toys. So no Mandi, you’re not wrong.

      • matt

        Yes, you are wrong. I mean we really don’t have to be so bleeding heart liberal about it…boys (generally speaking) like action figures and girls (generally speaking) like ummmm, other stuff.

        In fact it still rings true today as a young adult, when I look on the BK site.

      • Dave

        of Course your wrong…

        The fact by titling your post with “Awesome or sexist?” your implying that there is something sexist about burger king offering toys that cater to both girls and boys. Thats like saying NO timmy you have to play with barbie dolls or Amanda dress up those GI Joes! In this day and age Boys will still be boys and girls will still be girls. There is and will always be a difference between the two sexes and being offended by what burger king puts in its kids meal is just as rediculous as being offended by clothing outlets offering both Girls and Boys Clothes! outrageous! Besides, this is absolutely nothing new, BK and Mcdonalds have been doing promotions like this for decades.. where have you been?

      • John

        There’s no denying that we have certain instinctual preferences based on our sex. It’s evolution. If neither sex were instilled with an innate desire to care for and protect their children, we would’ve died off long ago. A recent study showed that in children as young as 9 months, boys always preferred moving toys, and girls preferred toys with facial features. A study from 2001 found even 1-day-old boys spent longer looking at moving, mechanical options than 1-day-old girls, who spent more time looking at faces. You’ll have a tough time with the argument that a baby just out of the womb is succumbing to societal pressure. In general, you’ve got a causation problem because you’re choosing a particular baseline. You claim that children are socialized to behave a certain way. However, it’s equally plausible that marketers are responding to innate desires displayed by different demographics. I think we should all be encouraged to make our own choices about gender and sexual orientation, including which toys we like. But the fact that society has progressed to a point where we’re all permitted choose is not a logical reason to deny all differences between the sexes.

      • Andrew

        you both are wrong. Boys and girl do typically have different likes and dislikes and should be given what they typically like. I guess ugly girls dont want to be classified as girls. shocking

      • Beth

        She’s right categorizing by gender is stupid. When I was a kid I never liked dolls and I know a lot of people like that. We live in a sexist society.

      • Steph

        Right. There’s no reason why the toys should be gender classified. When you order a kid’s meal, you’re not given a toy option, but a gender option, “boy toy or girl toy?” Why do fast food places need to further gender norms and stereotypes?
        Mostly it bugs me that the “girl toys” don’t actually DO anything, they are just made to be pretty, whereas the “boy toys” are things to play with, movable parts and all.

      • TheJediCharles

        A person to believe that boys and girls are basically the same must have gone to college to learn to be so warped against reality, and the ramifications of such tripe being taken as true has had upon our society should be obvious to anyone with a pulse.

        The mere presence of exceptions does not render a rule of real life irrelevant or false. Only the person who has been so indoctrinated by liberal, politically-charged propoganda will try to cram reality into their feel-good theories, theories on how the world “should” work instead of how it “does” work.

        I found the way Burger King’s promotional read quite refreshing, considering it’s becoming harder and harder to find advertisers who haven’t taken their cues from ivy league law schools instead of… well, normal people in touch with reality.

      • Emily

        Plenty of times I have been to BK with my kid who didn’t want the ‘girl’ toy, & they gladly give her the ‘boy’ toy instead. They are not trying to force a gender on kids, just having something available to make every kid happy. Geez!

      • Mo

        Emily, so have I, but most of the time they wouldn’t even ask – we would just find the Transformer in my son’s bag and the Little Pony in my daughter’s, and had to go back and exchange the girly one, which is kind of a pain. I appreciate it that they have the different options, but I also wish that they wouldn’t have my daughter have to ask for a “boy’s” toy. And god forbid any of the boys ever were more attracted to a “girl’s” toy, because you know how much fun it would be for them to have to ask for them that way.

      • Mo

        Oh, and perfectly put, Steph. And TheJediCharles (you wish), maybe the “rule of real life” is that because we insist on declaring that it must be so, and we condition our children from birth that they are meant to fit narrowly into the boy mold or the girl mold.

      • amj

        I agree with Mandi here! She is not wrong. Why separate this way? Generally little girls might prefer the necklaces but not across the board. Plus, couldn’t they make a girl specific action toy then. But, why are we surprised when they have those commercials that in my opinion are bizarre and frankly frightening to me let alone little children? Afterall, why would the King be spying on someone when they are sleeping…stalker much? I haven’t understood their marketing campaign in over 2 years. Who are they marketing to anyway?

      • John

        She is absolutely wrong. This is insane. Burger King probably made an effort to provide girl-specific toys in response to consumers complaining about a lack of toys for girls. The fact that society (often to everyone’s detriment) promotes gender roles does not support the proposition that there are no biological differences between men and women that might create innate predilections. At times, socialization may simply reinforce already present genetic proclivities. Increased testosterone produces increased aggression in males. While this doesn’t excuse a man beating someone, denying the existence of testosterone or its effects is scientifically unsupportable. A child’s choice of toy is, of course, more complicated and many unknown factors come into play. But the fact that socially-endorsed gender roles may have an effect on the child’s decision doesn’t mean that biological differences don’t also play a role. The two are not mutually exclusive.

      • Truthseeker

        Wow, what’s the big deal just say u want the boy toy and you will get it. That’s all you have to do, quit freaking crying about it.

    • RickAfterDark

      Wow, Michael. You provide only three words and one of them (you’re) you can’t even spell correctly. Way to take advantage of that prime real estate.

      • D’Oh

        Wow Rick what next calling someone a stinky Poo Poo head?

      • Greg

        I assume that you are accepting his argument given the fact that the only thing you could criticize about it was his grammar and conciseness.

      • MV

        The only reason that the majority of boys still “like” action figures and girls still “like” accessories is because that is what is expected of them. Children are easily influenced. If you were to take a boy, call him Cindy, and put dresses on him, he would choose the accessories – not because he is a girl, but because he was raised to think that those are the appropriate toys for him.

        It’s so sad how people don’t see the brainwashing of the status quo.

      • Jake

        Seriously, why is it that we expect everything to be catered to every single person, when I go out I don’t expect to se items marked “for Jake”. Get over it, for thousands of years it has been gender specific, don’t expect it to change over a bunch of gender identity freaks, if the boy wants jewelry then get him jewelry don’t throw a fit cuz BK doesn’t also say its for gays, its like saying gays can be married, don’t call it marriage, its a civil union, the bible says marriage is between a man and a woman who become one and spend their lives together in hopes to raise offspring/ gays cannot have offspring therefor nature tells us its wrong, we just have to wait for humans to catch up and see this since human nature as always been a bit slow.

      • Mo

        Oh Jake. The bible also gives us the heartwarming stories of infertile couples who use their slaves as surrogates, and the like. Yeah, the bible is wonderful.

      • Are you for Real?

        Jake—why are you assuming the comment is about gays? I know plenty of straight women who preferred action toys as children to dolls. I had Barbies but I always preferred to play with the Barbie bus since it did something! Plus, my favorite cousin who is perfectly heterosexual with two children played both the parts of Luke and Daisy when we were kids and played Dukes of Hazzard. Please don’t imply that liking something generally intended for one specific gender (not your own) makes you gay. I would also appreciate if you don’t imply that Mandi’s article is about non-gay friendly issues because I didn’t read that at all.

    • Brian

      Her wrong what?

      • Charity

        Haha… I love grammar humor.

    • Vikki Sixx

      She’s definitely not wrong. I am a girl and I grew up playing with GI Joes and Transformers. I liked Jem, too, but guess what..I know multiple boys who also liked Jem. That didn’t stop me from being more into comic books(and by that I mean the real stuff not the fluff) than any little boy out there nor did it make me play with the matching toys any less. I agree that there is no need for gender to play a part in this and thats not being pc..that’s just facing reality. Not just boys like that stuff.

      • Mark

        Quick Vikki….fish Tacos or Hot Dogs? Quick…pick one!!!

      • Kel

        I prefered the Hotwheels toys to those itty, bitty Barbie dolls that when you try and comb their hair it all comes out in one swoop. There’s nothing wrong with saying toys are for boys or girls, but kids should still feel free to play with what they want. For me, as a young lady I would’ve prefered to play with an Iron Man action figure than an Iron Man necklace…>_>

      • Matt

        You knew multiple boys who liked Jem? Wow, that’s crazy. Believe me, they are in a very small minority…sorry, but that does not make a good argument.

      • TR

        @Matt- everybody in the 80s loved Jem. Boys or Girls at my school. It was like a safer version of the the punk movement.

        I think BK would have been better off doing a non-gendered version of toys like McD’s did with Pirates 3.

        Offering, action figures mixed with messageboards or journals. Everyone writes. Throw in a gender neutral pendant and you’re all set.

        Or better still would be a series of action figures like BK did with star wars. Which was what I was actually hoping for, the Super-D style was awesome.

    • DidYouEvenWatchTheEpisode?

      nope… not wrong at all. let kids play with what they want to without pushing them towards one product or another by labeling it “boy” or “girl”.

    • Kevan

      Yeah you’re wrong. If a kid who would be getting a toy with his fast food knows WHY he would want to get a girls toy then he is too old to be getting toys with fast food. Adults are adding some sort of sexual bias to this. The designation of not for the kids. It’s so when the associate taking your order is putting the toy in your daughters meal she’s not getting an action figure when she may have wanted to play dress up. If I was a little kid and got a barbie or a necklace in my happy mean I’d be upset because I don’t want a girls toy. Not because as a little kid it makes me like a girl but because I see no use for the items girls use. Take the sex and adult preferences out of it because kids don’t think like that.

      • Paul

        But that’s just not true for all kids. Look at it from the other side. You’re one of the boys who’s not into action figures at all, but loves playing dress-up and loves pretty things. They give you an action figure, and you see no use for it. Not because it’s “what boys use,” but because they’re just not a category of toys you like playing with, no matter how many people keep buying them for you. The boy in that position — the boy who likes playing with necklaces, or the girl who hates frilly pink things and likes some good rough-and-tumble toy violence — is put exactly in the position you describe. It doesn’t even have to have anything to do with gender orientation, and it *doesn’t* have anything to do with sexual preference. It’s simply a way of saying that not all kids are the same, and we’d give the kids more freedom and pleasure by letting them have the choice (“lifestyle accessory” or “action figure,” if not specific toy) instead of assuming the choice for them and telling them implicitly that’s what they should want.

      • mtraptor

        Thanks for saying pretty much exactly what I was thinking, Paul.

      • Mark

        They can simply request the other type of toy if they feel so inclined!

      • TR

        My problem is that the gender split BK uses isn’t as strong as “Do you want Barbie or a car?”

        Plenty of girls would want the action figures so why label them “Boys toys”?

        Really it seems like too much of a stretch to even make “girl’s Iron MAN toys” So just leave it all Gender Neutral.

    • Bryan

      It’s a toy! Why the heck is this even important?

      • amy

        It’s important because there’s millions of dollars tied into these things from the movie and restaurant side…and it makes a cultural impact.

      • TR

        Important? I don’t know. “Interesting” I’d say.

        It’s a multi-million dollar action movie with the word “man” in the title attempting to create collectibles for girls separately from boys.

        I think from a financial standpoint, it’s weird to place limits on action movies (which usually appeal across gender lines)

      • Darwin

        Even His name is sexist. He should be called “Iron Person”

    • amat

      Yes your wrong you act like kids don’t have the option 9 times out of 10 they don’t ask whether the child wants one toy or the other so its always been an option. I know when I was little I used to get angry when I got the pink pony instead of the batman toy

    • AD

      Every comment that used “your” instead of you are or you’re is automatically excluded on the basis of stupidity.

      Otherwise, she’s correct, you don’t need to say “boy” or “girl” toys, because kids don’t need to be made to feel there is something wrong with them if they enjoy toys for the “other” gender. No political issues, just about not making kids feel uncomfortable.

      • TR

        I think McDonald’s just says “Barbie or HotWheels” mainly in case of girls who like cars.

        Maybe some parents let the boys play with Barbie but it more acceptable for a girl to want the Hot Wheels.

        Still, they realize “Boys toys and Girl’s toys” are too old fashioned.

    • Darwin

      I recent study shows that even 9 month old children choose gender specific toys. http://news.yahoo.com/s/hsn/20100416/hl_hsn/even9montholdschoosegenderspecifictoys

  • Nerwen Aldarion

    Burger King and McDonalds have been doing this for years…and now you are offended by it? Ironically it is usually pretty accurate, I have a 4 year old cousin that doesn’t want anything to do with “boy toys”

    • rebecca

      McDonald’s gender toys are good because they have boy and girl toys that are completely opposite. Like Barbies and Hot Wheels, but when a movie comes out they have toys for everyone, not based on gender. This is the first time that I have noticed a movie toy being based on gender

      • Miranda

        Before I posted my comment, I took the time to read other people’s perspective on the issue & I completely agree with Rebecca. I couldn’t have written it better myself & I believe that also answers Mandy’s question.

    • Mikky J

      IRONically, huh huh.

      • Christopher

        I think that it is a real shame that this is even a discussion, holy crap the fundies are right and everyone else just takes all of the fun out of being of dubious gender.

        You know what, maybe we can have male, female, neuter, non-committed, boy-gay masculine, boy-gay feminine, girl-gay masculine, boy-bi (again masculine and feminine), girl-bi (same), non-sex, hermaphrodite, and yes all of the various bestialist preferences, out there.

        Like it or not, most people do identify with a particular sex at an early age. For those who don’t, well they might as well figure out that others are not like them at an early age. Better that BK indicates this preference in their toys, than that they have to undergo therapy later because they are surprised by society’s insensitivity later.

    • Brian

      More power to your little cousin! I stand behind his decision.

      • gender_is_invented

        Hah.

    • JenR

      At McDonald’s they always ask us if we want a “boy toy” or a “girl toy” and if I say I want the Hot Wheel, or whatever the “boy toy” is, they don’t know how to ring it up. You have to answer “boy” or “girl,” so I always say, “My daughter would like the boy toy.” For some reason the “boy” toys are always cooler and better made.

      • jason

        I’ve always maintained that girls toys suck. Absolutely. Always have. Way to think around the lines.

      • James

        I worked at McDonald’s one summer YEARS ago and while I went out of my way to ask the parents if they wanted a car or a barbie, the PARENTS would totally fight me and respond “the boy toy”

    • Nick T

      It’s because they referred to them as “lifestyle accessories,” which sounds pretty offensive.

      • amj

        I do agree with this statement..that offended me just reading it!!!!

  • rebecca

    They should have just made the toys like they did for the first movie. I still have my Burger King Iron Man toy that looks just like Iron Man, but he has a jet pack or something. The should have left the gender out of the toys and just made action figures. I would have gone to Burger King to get a kids meal just to have an Iron Man toy, but not anymore since they aren’t action figures. Now they all light up. Dumb! You just lost a customer Burger King. Besides I haven’t been to Burger King since last summer, its not like they lost a loyal customer!

  • Emma

    Seriously? This is what it’s come to? You have nothing else to report on. I doubt that any boy who wants one of those charms reads Burger King’s press releases. Nor does anyone else for that matter. It’s just there to imply to the shareholders that BK is covering every possible demographic.

    • rtl

      Well said. This is why I crack up when people say that our country or world is in trouble. We have so much free time on our hands that a woman has time to blog about her possible perception of sexist language in a press release from a middling fast food resturant and we all have time to write silly replies to it.

      • bootsycolumbia

        Actually, some of the comments here are interesting and thought provoking. I agree that on the surface, talking about cheap kid’s toys from a fast food chain is stupid and a waste of time, but it does raise some valid issues about how we socialize our kids. Maybe you don’t have kids, so it’s not that big a deal to you.

  • Billiam

    Would little girls really prefer the little piece of plastic “jewelry” to something that actually looks like a toy? I wonder if BK should have only made the one set of toys.

    • erin

      yeah, fast food girl toys usually suck

      • JenR

        They are always more cheaply made. The so-called boys toys usually do more and have more engineering behind them.

    • StrawberryFields737

      I usually hated the girl’s toys when I was little. I wanted the cool toys, not the plastic jewelry.

  • kelsey

    This separation of toys by gender supports what I learned in my 200 level Child Psych class – that young girls and boys are traditionally attracted to gender specific toys (girls to dolls, boys to toy cars, etc.). So I guess if you take that view of it, it’s not really a big deal. Or, alternatively, it is both awesome
    *and* sexist.

    • Liz

      Why do you think kids are attracted to the toys for their gender? Could it be that because from the second they are born (literally hospitals put them in caps that are either blue or pink) we are gendering our kids. My nephew got a kid “motorcycle” from my father for his second birthday, my niece got a play kitchen complete with frying pan and a washing machin extension pack for her second. Kids are gendered from minute one and have little chance to break from that.

      • Brian

        You are ignoring the science, Liz. These are randomized trials Kelsey is talking about. It even works with ambiguities in sexuality. While most boys will play with trucks, boys that identify as girls will more likely play with the dolls, and vice versa.

      • kai

        Am a mother of 5 sons and I let them decide what kinds of toys they wanted. Some played with dolls and stuffed animals, some trucks and legos. All turned out fine.

    • Brian

      Good cite Kelsey. Furthermore, we use this fact to help us sort out identity in the case of genetic and chromosomal abnormalities that lead to ambiguous genitalia.

    • amy

      Actually, there is a lot of debate about whether or not boys and girls are conditioned to like toys society views as specific to their genders(drooling dog thing in psych class terms).

      • Blink

        Liz, there is a biological predisposition towards certain traits. There is research to show that men, on average, have better spatial abilities and muscle control, while women have better language and social skills. This makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint, with the men being the hunters while women cared for and taught the children. While these roles no longer apply in this country, that does not change the genetic predisposition of the sexes. Is there conditioning? Absolutely, but to state that conditioning is the one and only reason that there are gender roles shows a very biased viewpoint.

  • TBK

    I think most children will respond to the gendered division of these toys in a positive way. The reason, though, is because the behaviour of boys and girls is socialized– boys are taught to like action figures, girls are taught to like dolls– from a young age. There is absolutely nothing ‘natural’ about these types of associations– children pick them up because they are perpetuated by society.

    • @TBK

      Disagree. Children aren’t “taught” to like certain toys. They just naturally gravitate towards them. Experiments which tried to teach them to like the other’s toys haven’t worked.

      • toostie

        I see what TBK is getting at in regards to social constructs, which is true in many cases. However, I’m an example of the opposite as well. I naturally gravitated toward the cool “boy” toys because of my tomboyish personality.

        Kids will pick what they like but either way, I don’t think gender-specific toys are necessary.

      • Mo

        That’s nonesense! no sits around and trys to teach their kids what toys to play with. You take your boy or your girl to store and trust they pick what they want to pick! or you’ll have a screaming baby to deal with

      • gender_is_invented

        have you ever thought that they may only “naturally” gravitate to gender-specific toys because of the way they’ve been socialized? i mean, that was TBK’s point! any “experiment” like the one you mention would have to be conducted with children who grew up without a concept of gender in the first place. the socialization that TBK brings up begins IMMEDIATELY. in other words, we are ALL “taught” to be “male” or “female”.

      • mel

        I don’t think Mo understands what a social construct is.

      • Darwin

        There have been studies involving children as young as 9 months old. You can’t believe that these kids were also taught which toys to play with.

    • Shane

      Actually that’s not true. Studies have shown that children tend to play their gender role even if taut differently. On study gave girls GI Joe Action figures and hot wheel cars and showed them cartoons and other video to get them to change and the same with boys, they gave them Barbie dolls and tea set, at the end the boys were playing war and the girls were giving tea parties to the GI Joe and hot wheel cars. There is always an exception but for the most part girls and boys always go back to their gender role even if taught something different.

      • Paul

        You can’t just erase years of social conditioning in a couple of hours. Kids absorb gendered messages from all around: the way they’re dressed, ads on television, what they’re given and told they should like by well-meaning aunts and uncles, what they see other children playing with. Even the pictures on the packaging that often show boys playing with action figures and trucks and girls playing with Barbies and tea sets. Those are powerful messages that get deeply internalized. So I don’t think there’s any wonder that you can’t “unteach” certain gender roles in the course of an experiment; the social messages you’re working against are too powerful and persuasive. I’m not saying it’s impossible that there are biological tendencies to play in these directions, but to actually find out, you’d have to raise children with no exposure to the media or to any people who weren’t part of the experiment. Realistically, by the time the kids are old enough for researchers to observe them at play, the social gender coding has already been done.

    • Dee

      REALLY?
      I have let my son pick out toys since he was a baby. I never told him hey no that is for girls. However he totally leans towards toys that are directed towards boys. Society didn’t perpetuate how my son thinks. He is only 3 and hasn’t been influenced by preschools and the media. I really think you are generalizing things and not looking at a complete picture.

      • Amelia

        That’s because most of the toys they market to girls are just plain boring! I much preferred the building blocks, Lego castle sets, Creepy Crawlers and plastic dinosaurs when I was a little girl.

      • Francesca

        Really? You have never let your child watch television, utilize any other meduim (computers, any commercialized toy), or expose him to anyone else in society?

        Unless you have kept your child in a sanctuary away from all of Western society, he has been influenced by society and media.

        He is already a product of his environment. Denying influence of media over ourselves or our children is complete denial or misunderstanding of media and media literacy.

      • GJVG

        I would like to point out that, before children are able to make choices for themselves, we dress them in blue, for boys, or pink, for girls. Also, in general, we crop baby boys’ hair short and allow little girls’ hair to grow long. Once these norms are established, they can then use these to associate themselves with other people they see on TV or on the street. These choices have nothing to do with nature, and do indeed influence their sense of ‘self.’ On the other hand, will I force my children to adopt opposing gender norms? No, society has already been set (although it will progress slowly in time) and forcing change is also unnatural. But the point is that people need to be aware of the concept of gender, and how it (most of the time) corrals us into our various walks of life. It is sexist, but that won’t change in the next five years or so, and we need to be aware of how this influences what is OK or not in our lives. We don’t need to be mad at each other and completely polarized about the issue. Simply thinking about things never hurts (although we never do it enough). I would also like to point out that the majority of the ‘sexism isn’t real’ comments are from men. Also, in general (certainly not just on this site), at least 60% of conservative comments contain spelling mistakes or incomplete sentences…

      • John

        I don’t think anyone is trying to say “sexism isn’t real.” Rather, they’ve come to the reasonable conclusion that this particular press release was blown out of proportion. Although many children have been socialized from a very young age, it does not follow that biological differences would produce no instinctive preferences. A recent study showed that in children as young as 9 months, boys always preferred moving toys, and girls preferred toys with facial features. A study from 2001 found even 1-day-old boys spent longer looking at moving, mechanical options than 1-day-old girls, who spent more time looking at faces. You’ll have a tough time with the argument that a baby just out of the womb is succumbing to societal pressure. In general, you’ve got a causation problem because you’re choosing a particular baseline. You claim that children are socialized to behave a certain way. However, it’s equally plausible that marketers are responding to innate desires displayed by different demographics. Or they may work in tandem, with society pressuring and reinforcing some instinctual preferences. I think we should all be encouraged to make our own choices about gender and sexual orientation, including which toys we like. But the fact that society has progressed to a point where we’re all permitted choose is not a logical reason to deny all differences between the sexes. While pointing out that certain people in this thread can’t spell is an apt observation, it is not an argument that supports your case.

      • Paul

        Has your son ever been to the movies or watched TV? Have you dressed him in traditionally male clothes? Has he ever been given toys, or suggestions of how to play, at any time he wasn’t picking? Has he ever overheard conversations discussing things that boys or girls typically do? Have any decorations of his room been of a style traditionally associated with either gender? Has he seen pictures on toy boxes or in advertisements showing children playing with toys? Has he ever played with any other kids for which some of these things have been true?

        The questions are rhetorical, of course; my point is that all the things I describe above are social messages about gender, and it’s completely impossible to avoid them. There are a lot of assumptions that we internalize long before we understand what they mean. All this weight of completely unspoken social pressure and encoding probably has a much greater impact than your telling him not to play with girls’ toys would. That’s nothing against you; there’s nothing wrong with it. There wouldn’t be any way to shield a child from all that even if you really wanted to, and no one’s saying you should.

        But I do think it’s better for children — it allows them more creative freedom and individuality — to lessen that social pressure whenever possible. And things like this Burger King toy division, assuming that one sex of kids will want one thing and the other will want another, are a powerful part of that social pressure, so I think it’s better not to treat such divisions in that way. Besides, not all children do fit the gender roles, and there’s no reason we should make those kids feel uncomfortable or abnormal.

    • AR

      TBK, unfortunately, you’ve been programed to believe there is no difference between male and female. But then, you’re probably chums with Nancy Pelosi. Put a number of girls in a room and a number of boys in another room, (from any culture) with the same toys available to them. The boys will gravitate to the cars, action figures and such. The girls will take to the dolls and decorative things, 95% of the time. They don’t need American or western ideals pumped into them. It’s naturally there. Do some more research before you spout your party line.

      • gender_is_invented

        you don’t think about things as much as you think you do. what is the difference between “male” and female”? according to you, i mean.

      • TBK

        @AR: If anyone’s party line is painfully obvious, it’s yours. This is an article about gender stereotypes, not American politics.

      • Paul

        And other cultures don’t also strongly enforce gender roles? I don’t think there are any modern cultures that don’t have gender-based expectations, which means there’s really no way to conduct an experiment to find out what’s “natural,” because the data will always be tainted. You’d have to raise a child in isolation from media and from cultural standards of whatever kind to really figure this out. By the way, American partisan politics have nothing to do with this question, and bringing them up isn’t a good way of suggesting that you’re really interested in truth.

      • info

        Actually this would be even more true for cultures that are not “modern”. Gender specifications go way back and western culture is generally more accepting of things outside the norm.

  • erin

    Of course it’s ridiculous, but you obviously don’t have kids, or you’d be familiar with and way past caring about complaining about the sexual divide of toys. It’s not just Burger King – it’s our whole culture. It’s unfortunate, but whaddyagonnado? What matters most is how open-minded parents raise their children to be.

    • Francesca

      Agreed. Good point. it is our entire culture that socializes us and our children. It is up to each of us as parents to raise our children with a sense of wonder and with open minded ideas. We are not their only source of socialization, but we are their main source.

      • rtl

        God, imagine that! Our culture socializes us and our children. Explain to me how it could not.

  • Tonya

    This is the first time I’ve seen seperate toys for the same promotion. As pointed out, it’s usually Barbies and Hot Wheels kinds of choices.
    Is it sexist? Only if they insist on only girls getting girl toys and boys getting the boy toys. I have a son who likes when there are stuffed animals, so he’ll order the girl toy over a boy toy then. And if the girls can get the action figure, if they don’t want a necklace or whatever, then fine. It’s about choices, right?

  • Ember

    BK’s ads over the past couple years have been disgusting. (“teenage” burgers making out, and getting caught by the “parent”. “teenage” burgers acting like obnoxious punks in public). Regardless of the toy selection, I will not spend a dime at BK.

  • nae

    you are making too big a deal of it.

  • Ben Wes

    I think in the long term it would be best for the kid’s if they didn’t eat at burger king.

    • LOL

      Exactly.

    • Jen

      Burger King is actually not so bad. My daughter gets mac and cheese (Kraft), appple fries (we don’t let her have the carmel sauce), and white milk. My husband and I have grilled chicken salads or the chicken sandwich with no mayo and a side salad. Families are busy and sometimes you have to eat on the run.

      • Ben Wes

        i thought i posted a reply to jen, but it seems to have disappeared…

      • Mary

        Oh please. If you want to feed your kids apples and white milk stay at home and save money. Fast food restaurants are for indulging and are just fine in moderation. I know when I was a kid I wanted a cheeseburger and fries and a shake or it wasn’t worth it to go to McDonald’s.

      • Jen

        It sounds like none of you have kids. Or you sit around at home all the time and are boring. Don’t you ever go on vacation?

    • Paul

      You win the comment thread. I’m actually kind of sad that I didn’t even think of that before reading your reply.

  • Christian

    Wow, if this issue ever becomes important enough for me to worry one iota over, we will truly have achieved a utopian society.

  • Bucky

    Does anyone think this article is a bit over thought? When it comes down to “it” does anyone really care or is this just another article written to illicit comments and to form sides? What in the world has this world become when we debate the gender profiliing of children’s toys offered by fast food restaurants?

    • Dee

      EXACTLY! I just was stunned by how ridiculous this article is.

    • mel

      What do you mean what has the world become? Save that sort of talk for things like how people didn’t help a dying good samaritan in a New York street yesterday.

      This is a comments section where people are discussing the need or lack thereof for gender specific toys.

    • gender_is_invented

      @Bucky, this is something we SHOULD be discussing. frankly, i’m surprised to find something this academic, being written about on Entertainment Weekly!

  • Truman Sparks

    As a vetran parent of several, who cares about this mindless drivel? Sexism ??? What are you kidding ??? People like you are the ones who drive this ‘politically correct’ BS too far. Since when was getting a toy with your meal a requiset? Get some kids of your own and then ‘report back’. The whole promotion is just another way to exploit a current movie. Good grief.

    • randy

      Agreed. It shouldn’t even be something that needs to be discussed. Burger King designed toys that they thought boys would enjoy, and made toys that they thought girls would enjoy. Burger King designed it, they have a right to say who they designed it for. Ultimately, it’s up to the kids and their parents to decide which toy they want, and I doubt Burger King would interfere with that choice (even if it went against their advertising commercial).

    • chris

      @Truman Sparks- it is that kind of thinking, or lack thereof, that has put us in the position to have this discussion in the first place. People are finally realizing how much everything you take in as a kid affects your whole life. When you are a child you can be influenced to be anything or anyone. Just think if we all actually put 150% into raising our kids to be open-minded toward all people regardless of gender, race, political background, culture, religion, or any other factor and to really try to do something in this lifetime… Then we’d be getting somewhere..

      People need to quit assuming everything ‘just happens’ and ‘thats the way its supposed to be’! Its not!

      • Corpsegoddess

        Well put, Chris.

        I’ve always objected to gender-based targeted marketing, but sadly it’s common.

        *My* personal problem with this particular issue is the description given. “Lifestyle” toys? What the hell does that mean? It simply reinforces the fact that girls should be more concerned with their possessions, how they look and their lifestyle, while only boys get to lead “action-packed” lives.

        And before you all start howling, I’m a 38-year-old married female, and played with BOTH barbies and Tonka trucks as a kid. My parents let *me* decide what toys I wanted to play with; they didn’t decide for me based on my gender.

    • VoiceOfReason

      Too right! Who cares anyway. This conversation, other than winding up a bunch oh P(olitically) C(orrect) proselytizers, will have no effect on BK. We, myself included, should vote with our wallet on this issue, and buy (or not buy) or meals wherever, and for whatever reasons we choose. Bringing politics, spelling, or grammar into it as a means of deriding another’s views only serves to obfuscate the issue with irrelevant inanities, in an attempt, I suppose, to show one’s superiority – the last bastion in any unsuccessful argument : I’m better than you are, so I’m obviously right. Bombastic twaddle is all that is… (look it up, grammar cops)

      • Corpsegoddess

        I don’t agree with your sentiment, but I applaud your use of vocabulary and grammar—which, although you find pointing out its usual lack specious, you have to admit does nothing to further people’s images as intelligent participants in debate when it’s not present.

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