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.