My daughter received the classic game of Guess Who? for her seventh birthday. It’s a two-person guessing game designed to eliminate characters based on their physical characteristics. Since that day two months ago, hundreds, without exaggeration, of games of Guess Who? have been played in my house. It has been played by all combinations of my children, and sometimes not by my own children. And the girls have devised all kinds of non-traditional ways to play the game too.
Early on, however, my girls ran into a problem. They figured out that if they chose to be a girl character (a natural choice give that they are girls), this would radically decrease their chances of winning the game. This is because there are 19 male characters and only 5 female characters.
I was so satisfied when our office manager extraordinaire Lizz
, sent me this blog post
by Jennifer O’Connell, a mom in the UK, facing the exact same problem. Her insightful six-year-old daughter had written to Hasbro with her concerns about gender inequality in the game. The response she received back from the company failed to placate either the mom or the girl. The company explained that the game, based on process of elimination, isn’t biased because there are no more than five of any given characteristic. Here the mom waded into the fray, asking Hasbro why female gender is regarded as a “characteristic,” like having a moustache or wearing glasses, while male gender is not.
I was even more satisfied to see Jennifer’s post republished yesterday on Jezebel
giving this issue an even greater platform.
As for my girls, I’m not tossing out the game just yet. They figured out their own solution to the Guess Who? gender gap. They decided, that if they were going to play the game, you simply weren’t allow to ask the question, “Are you a girl?” Not super-satisfying, is it?