Target: Brian Goldner, CEO of Hasbro
Goal: Re-release the popular game Guess Who? with more female characters
She might not even be in primary school yet, but one British kindergartener knows inequality when she sees it. A six-year-old girl from the United Kingdom recently sent a letter to toy giant Hasbro complaining of the unbalanced gender makeup of the popular game Guess Who? The game, which is won by eliminating visual characteristics to guess your opponent’s character, only features five female avatars to choose from–as opposed to 19 boys. This gender inequity doesn’t just make it more difficult for players who select female characters to win. It also teaches dangerous lessons about what it means to be a girl in society today.
As six-year-old “R” puts it, “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.” If young girls identify with the female characters on the board, they will soon be taught the lesson that to be a girl is to lose quickly. The game’s design also reinforces the construct of maleness as the default human state, with femaleness a “special” quality. Because femaleness is regarded as a characteristic in the game in the same way hair colors and accessories are, being a girl is rendered as something “different” from the norm.
If Hasbro wants to make products that appeal to children of all genders, it needs to stop broadcasting the dangerous message that girls are different or inferior to boys. Tell the toy company to give Guess Who? a more realistic gender breakdown.
Dear Mr. Goldner,
When young children sit down to play board games with their families, they aren’t just entertaining themselves. They’re also learning valuable lessons about the world around them. But what kind of lesson are children learning from a game that ensures all who select its female characters will lose?
The guessing game Guess Who? only features five female avatars, as opposed to 19 male ones. Statistically, the great majority of children who select a female character will lose the game. The game’s design also reinforces the notion that being male is the default human state, while being female is an added characteristic.
I urge you to bring Guess Who? into the 21st century and redesign the game with a more realistic gender split. Little girls shouldn’t have to face sexism in kindergarten, especially not from a beloved family game.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: boardgamegeek.com