A six-year-old girl has written a letter to the company Hasbro, wondering why the classic game Guess Who? has nineteen men but only five women. Hasbro’s tone-deaf, sexist response? Boys and girls have “the same chance of winning the game” regardless of what characters are featured.
The girl, who lives in Ireland, wrote the message to Hasbro with the help of her mother, Jennifer O’Connell (a journalist). Her initial message to Hasbro read:
I think it’s not fair to only have five girls in Guess Who and 19 boys. It is not only boys who are important, girls are important too.
O’Connell has since posted the entire exchange on her blog, including the several responses the family has received from the gaming giant. At first, they told the little girl:
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.
Hmm. That doesn’t even begin to answer her question as to why there are almost four times the number of men as women represented in the game. When O’Connell wrote back, saying she didn’t think Hasbro’s explanation answered her daughter’s important question, she got another canned, vague response from the company:
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.
Again, totally ignoring this six-year-old’s question. Hasbro did say that they “loved her suggestion of adding more female characters” and would consider it in the future, but their responses to her very legitimate question were so vague and condescending as to be offensive.
I’m pretty incensed at the runaround this company gave to a little girl and her mom who were just looking for some answers. This six-year-old’s instincts to question the number of women represented in the game were right on; how is it possible that in 2012, we have a popular children’s game that is so blatantly unbalanced in terms of gender? Little girls aren’t oblivious and they’re not dumb: they pay attention to the world around them, and to the messages that their world is sending them. When a girl notices that there aren’t many people like her on her favorite game (and receives several bullshit responses as to her honest inquiry about what she’s noticed) what does that teach her about the value of women in the world?
Shame on Hasbro for continuing to manufacture this outdated, biased game, and shame on them for trying to justify their sexist choice to a little girl who merely wanted to know why there were more males than females in the game she likes to play.