Posts Tagged ‘Stereotypical Gender Roles’

No Female Characters In McDonald’s Beware The Batman Happy Meal Toys

September 4, 2013

happymealThis is just getting ridiculous.  Since starting this blog a couple years back, I’ve done four different posts about the complete lack of female characters in McDonald’s Happy Meal toy lines based on DC characters.  This will be the fifth, with their new Beware the Batman line.

Before we get to that, let’s do a quick recap.  First, a series of Young Justice toys in March 2011 only included male characters, despite the team prominently featuring several female members:

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Their multitudinous Batman: The Brave and the Bold toy line didn’t fare any better in May 2011:

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Almost a year later, the Green Lantern: The Animated Series toy collection had no ladies at all:

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And then in November 2012 we got a second Young Justice line that again ignored the show’s many female character’s:

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Now McDonald’s is set to launch a Beware the Batman toy line, based on the new Cartoon Network show.  Not surprisingly, there are no gals whatsoever.  In fact, there’s only one guy, over and over:

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We all love Batman, of course, but that’s a lot of Batman.  Who does a toy line with only one character?  How are you supposed to play with those?  You need sidekicks and villains so you can make your own awesome stories.

Speaking of sidekicks, Batman’s main sidekick in the show is Katana, a female character.  She’s on all the posters and everything, and she’s really cool.  She’s got a sword even!  But no, it’s just Batman, and McDonald’s already has a second line of toys for girls anyway, based on The Wizard of Oz:

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Which oddly enough actually features some male characters.  Half of the “girl” line are males, while none of the “boy” line is.

That McDonald’s regularly features two different lines based on some rather stereotypical and reductive concepts of gender is annoying enough, but the complete lack of female representation in their superhero-based toys is just dumb.  Notice how the Wizard of Oz toys include the male characters that feature prominently in the story, while ALL of their superhero lines exclude the many female characters who are key parts of each program.  You’ve got to go out of your way to not include a single female character over five different lines of superhero toys. They’re really hard to miss, but it seems that DC and McDonald’s have learned how to expertly turn a blind eye.  It shouldn’t be so hard to get a female superhero with your chicken nuggets.

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McDonald’s Yet Again Excludes Female Characters In Young Justice Toy Line

November 7, 2012

This is, sadly, the fourth post in what’s become a series about McDonald’s and DC Comics’ poor/non-existent treatment of their female characters in their Happy Meal toy lines.  Let’s start with a quick refresher.

In March 2011, McDonald’s first line of Young Justice toys featured no female characters at all, despite there being several ladies on the team:

Then in May 2011, their numerous Batman: The Brave and the Bold figures didn’t have any women either:

Then in April 2012, McDonald’s put out toys based on Green Lantern: The Animated Series, which also didn’t include a single female character:

And now they’re back at it.  They have a new line of Young Justice figures comprised of skateboards featuring some of the cast of the show.  Let’s see if there are any female characters this time:

Not a one.  We have Robin, Batman, Superboy, Superman, Aqualad, and Kid Flash, and that’s it.

First off, they’re WAY behind.  The show jumped ahead five years a while ago and became Young Justice: Invasion.  Robin is Nightwing now, Aqualad is a secret bad guy, and Kid Flash is retired.  Superboy looks about the same, but regardless, these are some very poorly-planned tie-ins.  And it’s made even worse by the fact that the show isn’t even on the air right now.  Well done, everyone.

Second, no ladies!!  Young Justice has several great, starring female characters.  Miss Martian, Artemis, Zatanna, Batgirl, Wonder Girl, Bumblebee… there are options, and most of them are on the show more than Batman and Superman are.  But no.  McDonald’s and DC Comics have shown yet again that they don’t think girls and superheroes go together.

They also clearly don’t think that girls want to get superhero toys either, since alongside the Young Justice toys there’s this very pink and purple line of Littlest Pet Shop toys:

The Young Justice line is for boys, and the Littlest Pet Shop line is for girls, because I guess it’s 1952 and that’s just how things roll.

This is a big problem.  Dichotomous gender roles pigeonhole kids and teach them that it’s not okay to just be themselves and like what they like.  They have to match these prescribed roles.  I’m sure there’s lots of girls who’d want a Young Justice skateboard (my nieces sure would), and there’s lots of boys who’d prefer a cute animal from the Littlest Pet Shop, but two things happen:

a)  Kids aren’t given the choice, seeing as they are assigned toys based on their gender.

b)  If given the choice, kids are more likely to align themselves with their gender role when it’s presented to them so starkly, lest they be considered odd.

That’s just awful.  Plus, teaching them these gender roles at such a young age colours their thinking for the rest of their lives.  This stuff gets engrained.  Women are homemakers and mothers and they love pink and adorable things.  Men are big, strong breadwinners and they love sports and action.  Now, none of those things are bad at all.  It’s the idea that you’re SUPPOSED to fit a mould based solely on your gender that screws up a lot of people.

Anyway, McDonald’s may be delicious with their chicken nuggets and golden fries, but they’re awful when it comes to gender roles.  And DC Comics isn’t much better.  Give us some female characters next time, please.  They exist, and people like them.  Don’t pretend the show is all boys, for boys.

McDonald’s Superhero Toys Again Exclude Women Entirely OR The Problem With Green Lantern

April 3, 2012

In the past I’ve written a couple posts about the Happy Meal toys at McDonald’s and how their superhero lines never have female characters.  My first post was a rundown of several different toy lines, including Young Justice, “Marvel Heroes”, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, The Spectacular Spider-Man, the Lego Batman video game, and the Legion of Super Heroes cartoon.  The second was a follow-up piece with even more Batman: The Brave and the Bold figures.  NONE of these lines had any women characters at all.

Plus, all of these lines had a more girl-oriented toy counterpart, because McDonald’s LOVES stereotypical gender roles.  There’s always a boy toy and a girl toy, and superheroes are for boys while cutesy pastel coloured animals and dolls are for girls.  While McDonald’s swears up and down that they never refer to the toys as boy or girl toys, they do it ALL the time.  Or just give the kid the toy that matches their gender without asking.  My niece Lois regularly gets indignant with the cashiers when they try to foist a girl toy on her… she’s only 5, but she’s kind of a bad ass.  It’s pretty awesome.

Of course, all of this is terribly insidious.  Infecting children’s minds with dichotomous gender roles limits their choices, first with toys and games and then down the road with work and real life, and you get things like income disparity and few women in positions of power and the patriarchy keeps rolling on because they’re goddamn superheroes and ladies are for making babies.  Thus are all their toys so infantilized.

So now McDonald’s is continuing this ridiculous trend with toys based on Green Lantern: The Animated Series.  Here are the toys:

We’ve got:

  • Three different Hal Jordans.
  • Kilowog (a dude).
  • Razer (also a dude).
  • A power ring.
  • Cool mask glasses that I kind of want but they probably wouldn’t fit my face.
  • The Interceptor (a ship).

No ladies at all.  Now, there aren’t many ladies in the show from what I’ve seen thus far (I’ve only seen a few episodes because the shows airs on a delay in Canada and certain other means of procurement have been slow to show up on the internets).  Hal, Kilowog, and Razer are trapped in some far edge of the galaxy and it’s just the three of them.  However, at the end of the fourth episode, their ship’s sentient computer system, Aya, turns into a sort of android thing who looks like this:

Plus Carol Ferris is set to turn into Star Sapphire in the ninth episode.  There ARE ladies, with cool superpowers and everything, and they could have maybe stuck one in instead of THREE Hal Jordans.  But they didn’t.

Here are the girl toys, in case you were wondering… they’re something called Squinkies that promise, and I quote, a “surprize inside”:

So little baby animals for little girls to love and care for (in preparation for their future children!!).  To be fair, a couple of them are sort of cool sounding.  There’s a dragon and a unicorn and a pegasus.  Still, you really can’t get more stereotypical than pastel baby animals.

But back to Green Lantern.  As terrible as McDonald’s is, and they’re pretty terrible, this does continue a trend of few to no women in DC’s Green Lantern properties.  Next to the Batman family, Green Lantern is their biggest brand right now, and the ladies are rare at best.

In terms of female creators, the Green Lantern comics are terrible.  I’ve been doing women in comics stats for over a year now, and there are rarely any women involved.  Of the four Green Lantern books published now, only one features a female creator, Nei Ruffino colouring Green Lantern: New Guardians.  There are no women on Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, or Red Lanterns.  For March 2012, there were 40 credited creators over those 4 books, and only one was a woman. 

Inside the comics, the Green Lantern book has a few female characters, but it’s the guys who are the stars.  Soranik Natu is the only decent, regularly appearing female character.  There are a few more, but they look like this:

Or this:

Which is just super classy.

McDonald’s systematically excludes women from their superhero toy lines, but in this case women are hardly well served in Green Lantern products anyway.  Girls can be superheroes too.  Girls can LIKE superheroes too.  But not at McDonald’s, or in Green Lantern comics.

Maybe McDonald’s would go for some cutesy Green Lantern babies.  Baby Kilowog would be adorable.

McDonald’s Toys LOVE To Reinforce Stereotypical Gender Roles

March 23, 2011

A lot of comic book sites have been commenting lately on McDonald’s line of Young Justice toys.  Currently, when you go to McDonald’s you get one of eight fun Young Justice figures.  Take a look:

They are, in order, Robin, Batman, Superboy, Superman, Aqualad, Black Manta, Kid Flash, and Captain Cold.  They look very cool, but there’s a problem.  They’re all boys.  The TV show features several female characters… Miss Martian and Artemis are regulars, while Black Canary is the team’s official trainer.  Furthermore, there are female villains, such as Cheshire.  There’s no lack of women in Young Justice, but they’ve been excluded here.  And in favour of some odd choices too… Superman’s barely ever in the show, Black Manta was only on once, and Captain Cold hasn’t even shown up yet.  Yet they got picked over female characters who are in EVERY episode. 

However, this is perfectly okay to the folks at McDonald’s… if you’re looking for a female toy, Young Justice is only half of the current line-up.  They also offer a delightful selection of Littlest Pet Shops toys, tiny little animals with stands you can decorate with flower stickers.  They look like this:

McDonald’s does this all the time.  They put out two lines of toys, one aimed at boys and one aimed at girls, that only serve to reinforce stereotypical concepts of gender.  The boy’s toys are always cars or trucks or superheroes, something actiony with moving parts and usually somehow associated with violence, while the girl’s toys are always dolls or cute animals, something they can cuddle or comb and generally nurture.  Plus, these toys are explicitly referred to in gendered terms.  The question is rarely “Do you want Young Justice or Littlest Pet Shop?”, but rather “Do you want the boy or the girl toy?”  And that’s just in the drive-thru… if they can see your kid, you’re getting the toy that matches their gender.

This is a problem.  Instead of getting to pick the toy they like the most, kids are bombarded with the idea that their gender must determine their preference.  When boys are constantly given toys referred to as “boys” toys, they start to think that a) this is what boys are supposed to like, b) boys aren’t allowed to like “girl” toys, and c) girls aren’t allowed to like “boy” toys (this all works vice versa with girls too, of course).  This sets up a paradigm where anyone acting outside of their proscribed gender roles becomes an object of scorn and ridicule.  As this seeps into their little brains, kids start to see everything through a gendered binary.  What starts out as toys, games, and activities, over time affects educational choices, careers, and household responsibilities.

And it’s all McDonald’s fault.

Well, not quite, but they do this ALL the damn time.  Observe:

These are the Marvel Heroes toys from 2010.  Not a female in the bunch, but there was an earlier line of Littlest Pet Shop toys available for the gals.  There are quite a few female Marvel heroes (Ms. Marvel, She-Hulk, any number of X-women), but none of them made the cut here.

Also from 2010 is this selection of Batman: The Brave and the Bold toys.  They could have gone with Wonder Woman or Black Canary or Catwoman or Vixen or Batgirl, to name a few, but not so much.  There were, however, a lovely selection of My Little Pony figurines.

In 2009, McDonald’s had toys from the Spectacular Spider-Man TV show.  Gwen Stacey, Mary Jane Watson, and Black Cat were all options (I can understand them not doing an Aunt Mae… that’s a dull figure), but they went for Hello Kitty instead.

The Lego Batman game was all the rage in 2008, and so McDonald’s had this line of toys.  If you’ve played the game you know that not only are Batgirl, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, and Catwoman heavily featured, they’re also SUPER handy because of their awesome double jump feature.  But McDonald’s had girls covered with some weird looking Wizard of Oz dolls.

Finally, in 2007 there was a series of Legion of Super Heroes figures.  The show featured Saturn Girl, Phantom Girl, Emerald Empress, and several other female characters, but McDonald’s went with all boys.  Plus, of course, a cute Build-A-Bear doll.

Lest you think I’m picking on McDonald’s, lets take a quick gander at a few superhero related toys from other restaurants:

Burger King put out some figures for Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer in 2007, and lo and behold they included Sue Storm, the Invisible Woman. 

Previously, Burger King’s X-Men: The Last Stand toys had featured Storm AND Jean Grey (who dies five minutes into the damn movie!!).

Wendy’s 2005 Teen Titans Go! toys included a wristband, a Frisbee, and this cool clock, all of which included Raven and Starfire alongside their male teammates.

Finally, we are back to Burger King for their 2003 Justice League figures that featured Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl.

So, what the hell, McDonald’s??  Why do they love relegating kids’ preferences into tiny, stereotypical little boxes?  Are they patriarchal fiends trying to perpetuate the stereotypical concepts of gender that have subjugated women and kept men ruling the world for millennia?  Or, perhaps they’ve stumbled upon the most brilliant business model of all time.  Forcing children to deny their own desires and conform to a rigid concept of gender likely builds up feelings of loss and resentment.  And what does the Western world do with these unpleasant feelings?  We try to eat them away.  And where do we eat them away?  AT MCDONALD’S!!  They’re just raising the next generation of McDonald’s customers.

Whether they’re patriarchal jackasses or brilliant, malevolent businessmen, I am most definitely NOT loving this toy situation.

UPDATE: For more examples of McDonald’s ridiculousness, check out this post.


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