A six-year-old writes Hasbro to harp on an UNequal opportunity board game.
Remember Guess Who?
(No, not 1960s Canadian rock and rollers the Guess Who, original performers of “American Woman,” famously covered by Lenny Kravitz but which is totally better coming from a bunch of Canadians.)
Remember Guess Who? — the board game.
The six-year-old daughter of Irish journalist Jennifer O’Connell — is there anything more precocious than an Irish six-year-old? — wrote the manufacturers of the game, Hasbro, to lament the fact that there are 19 male characters and only 5 female characters to choose from.
Hasbro? More like Hastoomanybros, AM I RIGHT, PEOPLE.
Here’s her letter:
My name is R______. I am six years old. I think it’s not fair to only have 5 girls in Guess Who and 19 boys. It is not only boys who are important, girls are important too. If grown ups get into thinking that girls are not important they won’t give little girls much care.
Also if girls want to be a girl in Guess Who they’ll always lose against a boy, and it will be harder for them to win. I am cross about that and if you don’t fix it soon, my mum could throw Guess Who out.
My mum typed this message but I told her what to say.
In response, Hasbro engages sincerely with the nascent feminist’s complaint. Oh wait, no, that’s the opposite of what happened.
Thank you for your email. Please find below an explanation which I hope your mummy will be able to explain to you.
Guess Who? is a guessing game based on a numerical equation. If you take a look at the characters in the game, you will notice that there are five of any given characteristics. The idea of the game is, that by process of elimination, you narrow down who it isn’t, thus determining who it is. The game is not weighted in favour of any particular character, male or female. Another aspect of the game is to draw attention away from using gender or ethnicity as the focal point, and to concentrate on those things that we all have in common, rather than focus on our differences.
We hope this information is of help to you.
May we thank you for contacting Hasbro and if we can be of any further assistance, either now or in the future, please do not hesitate to contact us again.
At this point, O’Connell, aka “mum,” decides to enter the conversation.
Thanks for your prompt reply to R__. She has been anxiously watching the post box and checking with me to see if there has been a response to her email, which – I’m sure you understand – it was a very big deal to her to write.
Unfortunately, she is now no clearer as to why there are only five female characters for her to choose from in her favourite board game, compared to the 19 male characters her brother can pick. (Obviously, she could choose to be a male character, but as you know, that’s not usually how children work).
If anything, your response has left her more confused than before. She is a smart girl, but she is only 6 and still in senior infants at primary school, so she is a long way from being able to grasp concepts like numerical equations and weighting.
As a company that makes toys for children, I would have anticipated you would communicate with your youngest customers in a more direct and child-friendly way.
But I must confess that, despite being 37 years of age and educated to Masters level, I am equally at a loss.
Why is female gender regarded as a “characteristic”, while male gender is not?
Female gender is regarded as a “characteristic” while male gender is not because being male is NORMAL, Jennifer. Please, you’re a 37-year-old woman with a Masters. I shouldn’t have to mansplain this to you.
Hasbro was kind enough to respond, so props to them for that. Still, their second reply remains as slimy and corporate as ever.
We wanted to get back to you since our email did not fully answer your daughter’s questions. We love to hear from all of our consumers, especially children, so we hope this response will help clear up any questions.
We agree that girls are equally as important as boys and want both boys and girls to have fun playing our games. When you play the Guess Who? game, you have the same chance of winning the game whether you picked a card with boy or a card with a girl.
We love your suggestion of adding more female characters to the game and we are certainly considering it for the future. In the meantime, you will be pleased to know that we have additional character sheets that we can send out to you in the post if you ask your mum to send us your postal address. Alternatively, you can visithttp://www.hasbro.com/games/discover/guesswho/Guess-Who-Characters-en_GB.cfm to download and print additional character sheets so you can have lots of different fun people’s faces to choose from. You will be happy to know that our downloadable sports character sheet includes an equal number of boys and girls.
We hope your mum does not throw out your Guess Who game!
Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance.
Hasbro Consumer Affairs
Hasbro UK Ltd
It’s not about winning, Hasbro. It’s about sending a message. Get with the times if you don’t want to be Hasbeens HEYOO.