Mum abused for questioning McDonald's about gender stereotypes

McDonalds Happy Meal toys
McDonalds Happy Meal toys Photo: Getty Images

A mother who took a stand against the stereotyping of McDonald's Happy Meal toys has received messages from people saying she should be euthanased.

Imogene Burgess, from New Zealand, said she was shocked by the aggressive messages which also included people telling her she was an "idiot" and "stupid".

The backlash started after Burgess posted on the McDonald's Facebook page on the weekend asking why staff had asked for the gender of her child when she ordered a Happy Meal.

She did not think the gender of her child should determine what sort of toy she got. 

The post sparked an online storm and shortly after McDonald's revealed it would make changes to the way it presents toys it offers with its Happy Meals.

In her post she told people about her daughter and how she loved cars, trucks and bikes.

"I can guarantee if she was given the choice of a toy vehicle or a barbie doll, the vehicle would win 9 times out of 10," the post said.

While McDonald's has been sympathetic to her opinion, others who saw the post were not so welcoming of her view.

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In the past three days the post has attracted thousands of reactions, including 3500 comments and private messages to her own Facebook page.

"I saw a comment where someone said I should be euthanased," Burgess said.

Another person sent her a private message "telling me I'm an idiot, that I'm stupid, and that I'm a stupid attention-seeking whore".

Burgess said she made the post because she was actually genuinely curious as to what McDonald's stance on the issue was and Facebook was the easiest way to connect with companies.

She didn't think it would get such a reaction.

"I honestly thought that I would be ignored."

But she said it was an important discussion to have.

"The way that toys are gender stereotyped and separated, this is for girls to play with and this is for boys to play with, can be harmful for the development for children. 

"By separating the toys like that you are telling them that half of them don't deserve to be able to learn that kind of stuff."

"I thought we were beyond that - like I thought that as a society that was outdated and not necessary anymore and I was surprised that they are still asking that question."

Partner Hayden Burke said they should be asking what toy the child wants not what gender they are. 

"So then you can put it back to the kid, the child gets a choice rather than are you a boy or a girl," he said.

Burke said was also shocked at the online abuse Burgess received.

"If I was sitting in a restaurant having this conversation with the manager, people wouldn't be cutting in saying that I should be euthanised. That just doesn't happen."

- Stuff