You know the feeling. You are chilling with homies, relaxing with a nice game of Guess Who. And you draw Maria. Freakin’ Maria.
It is not just that Maria wears a green beret or has that sly, Mona Lisa grin. It is that Maria is a woman. A woman in a game with, what, four other gals? A game where the point is figuring out your opponent’s character quickest? (And let’s face it, Susan might a guy in wig.)
You know you will slip up and reveal this damaging fact. You try to stick to “yes” and “no” answers, but eventually you say something like, “She doesn’t wear glasses.” And then you’re pretty much out, because the fact that you drew a woman means your partner can eliminate 90 percent of the cards (or whatever, math).
One cool little girl noticed this, and decided to write Hasbro a letter.
Reads the 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."
Hasbro responded, not in a thoughtful or interesting way, but instead said that gender should not be a relevant question in this guessing game. The company said,
“The game is not weighted in favor of any particular gender, male or female."
Buh-squeeze me? There are literally only 5 women in the game!
“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.”
Correct me if we are wrong, but the game is precisely about focusing on differences. We tell the figures apart and ask yes or no questions based on hair color, existence of accessories like glasses or hats, and whether the character is smiling.
What troubles us further is that in Hasbro’s gender-blind world, it seems that being a man is the default, and being a woman is a slight deviation from the norm—such that being of the female persuasion is akin to wearing a green beret or having orange hair.
What do you think? Are we overreacting about a simple little game? Or is there something to be said about all kids–little boys and girls–growing up in a world thinking “boy” is the default gender?