Thomas S. sent in this photo of the toy options for kids meals available from Burger King as part of their tie-in with the Marmaduke movie. The dogs are helpfully divided, as in most kids’ meals at fast-food chains, into those for girls and boys:
Notice the gendering of the dogs. Both girls and boys have the option of a Marmaduke figurine, though they are posed in different ways: the girl version is lying down, while the boy version seems posed to run or jump. The other girls’ options are passive in their poses, the descriptive words in their names (cuddly, loungin’, comb ‘n’ style), and what they do:
- Comb ‘n’ Style Jezebel: you can comb her hair
- Bone Catchin’ Marmaduke: his tail wags when you move the bone
- Loungin’ Giuseppe: he just sits on the tassled cushion
- Cuddly Raisin: he’s soft
On the other hand, the boys’ options are given active descriptive names and different types of actions:
- Pouncin’ Marmaduke: leaps in the air
- Darting Lightning: you wind him up and he moves
- Stick ‘n’ Move Bosco: you attach his leash and he walks
- Turn ‘n’ roll Mazie: you wind up her tail and she rolls over
So the boys get the option of a doberman (or maybe a Rottweiler?) and what looks like an Australian shepherd, while the girls get a toy dog (a papillon, I think) and a collie, which is also a herding dog but here is presented as something to groom.
Obviously, the breeds and names (Bosco, Giuseppe, etc.) come from the movie, so Burger King didn’t create that part. But in creating the tie-in toys, different dogs from the movie were defined as girls’ or boys’ toys, and were designed accordingly.
It’s a great example of the feminine = passive, masculine = active gender dichotomy and the way children are socialized into it. Toys aimed at girls emphasize posing and appearance/grooming, while boys’ toys are usually more active and rarely involve grooming or dressing up (unless you count changing out the weapons G.I. Joe dolls action figures carry).
Of course, this doesn’t mean that kids and their parents will request the gender-intended toy. My sisters and I didn’t get kids’ meals often, but when we did, my mom almost always requested boys’ toys because they were usually more fun and did something, whereas the girls’ toys often just sat there. I’ve heard similar stories from lots of women. Given that men are discouraged from crossing gender lines more than women are, though, I wonder if parents are as willing to get their sons the girls’ toys if the son asks for it. And if we found the girls’ toys boring and wanted the boys’ versions, it seems likely that boys would generally reject them too.