ONTD Political

Six-year-old schools Hasbro on gender equality

2:21 am - 11/21/2012
When Jennifer O'Connell's six-year old daughter was playing the Hasbro board game "Guess Who?" with her brothers, she noticed something was a little off.

The game, which encourages kids to guess which character their opponents have chosen based on facial characteristics, features 19 boys and 5 girls. That, the toddler thought to herself, didn't seem fair, so she decided to hip Hasbro to the issue. And in the end, she proved to be a heck of a lot more cognizant than the corporate automatons she reached out to.

Her first step was to write a note to Hasbro:

"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."

The company responded to her, but mostly missed the whole point of her letter. Instead, it sent a rambling note filled with phrases seemingly plucked from a marketing checklist.

"Guess Who? Is a guessing game based on numerical equation," they wrote, adding that the game "is not weighted in favour of any particular character, male or female." They also described the way "Guess Who?" was played while largely ignoring the issue of gender misrepresentation.

"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," they wrote, ending with a boilerplate corporate signoff.

O'Connell took things into her own hands at that point, scolding the toy company for its lack of an answer and its inability to speak to its young customer base in a direct and child-friendly way.

"I must confess that, despite being 37 years of age and educated to Masters level, I am equally at a loss," she wrote. "Why is female gender regarded as a 'characteristic', while male gender is not?"

Hasbro finally wrote O'Connell and her daughter back with an answer that was a little more appropriate, though it still sounds a bit like a blow-off to adult ears ("We love your suggestion of adding more female characters to the game and we are certainly considering it for the future"). It also offered to send extra sheets for the game with equal numbers of girls and boys.

But the company couldn't help slip into marketing mode at the end, adding "We hope your mum does not throw out your Guess Who game!"

Awesome mother/daughter team: 1. Corporate behemoth: zero.


lickety_split MOD NOTE21st-Nov-2012 04:26 pm (UTC)
A post like this demands a photograph of... something.
luminescnece Re: MOD NOTE21st-Nov-2012 04:35 pm (UTC)
All I could find was this picture of a hawk with a knife. But I found it by typing "Mother daughter epic winning" into google images.

69love_songs 21st-Nov-2012 04:30 pm (UTC)
I just saw this on twitter! My mind was blown by that first response by Hasbro.

And the six year old has a point, too. Go mother/daughter team!
lickety_split 21st-Nov-2012 04:35 pm (UTC)
On the bright side though, this will probably go viral and the company might be forced to address this.

And there's nothing more glorious than seeing a huge corporation have to submit to public opinion after making a big stink about sticking to their guns.
moonbladem 21st-Nov-2012 04:46 pm (UTC)
What an awesome kid! You go girl!
shhh_its_s3cr3t 21st-Nov-2012 05:00 pm (UTC)
That's simply awesome. I wish more parents would take the time to type stuff out for their kids. Let the children be heard - they aren't dumb like most adults I know and most adults I don't know.
mysid 21st-Nov-2012 05:05 pm (UTC)
The kid is right; if you play the game as a female character, you always lose. (And yes, that's based on mathematical probability.) My kids figured that out pretty darn quickly and never play as a female character. They much prefer their deluxe version of the game in which they can play as monsters, animals, or even as household appliances. I'm surprised Hasbro didn't try to up-sell them to that version.
lickety_split 21st-Nov-2012 05:32 pm (UTC)
The Pokemon version of Guess Who is EPIC, especially if you play with people who ask questions like, "Can your character learn Blizzard???"
bluebombardier 21st-Nov-2012 05:16 pm (UTC)
I love how they offer to send extra sheets. Why didn't you just up and send extra sheets without asking? She was obviously upset enough by it that she wrote you. Are you expecting her to say no? Whatever, Hasbro. I take your Guess Who? game and turn it into Guess Doctor Who?

"Are you the Doctor?"
"Do you wear a scarf?"

Okay, maybe not.
jessalae 21st-Nov-2012 06:06 pm (UTC)
...now I want to go buy a used Guess Who game and make a new set of cards to turn it into Guess Doctor Who.
angelofdeath275 21st-Nov-2012 05:18 pm (UTC)
sooo about kids being too stupid to notice ~little things like gender under-representations
astridmyrna 21st-Nov-2012 05:25 pm (UTC)
Are you nuts? Parents ~ feed them this information~. Don't you know that children don't have any independent thoughts?

Srsly, though, just imagine what would happen if the mom forgot to add the "oh, I dictated this letter to my mom" bit at the end.
astridmyrna 21st-Nov-2012 05:20 pm (UTC)
Tis most awesome. I see where the daughter got her badass genes from.
ceilidh 21st-Nov-2012 05:21 pm (UTC)
awesome kid! I don't know why the article calls her a "toddler", though. Six year olds are already in elementary school (and fully capable of pwning dumbasses like the people who made this game).
schexyschteve 21st-Nov-2012 06:59 pm (UTC)
That's what threw me off when I read it. I'm like, "Wow, that's quite an advanced 2 year old!"
poetic_pixie_13 21st-Nov-2012 05:22 pm (UTC)

I want to snuggle this post.
zemi_chan 21st-Nov-2012 05:33 pm (UTC)
I can't believe that I still haven't seen this movie...
maladaptive 21st-Nov-2012 05:35 pm (UTC)
I wonder where the "little girls don't notice sexism, that's adults projecting" brigade will be for this one.

I noticed the same thing too with Guess Who as a kid. Because, shockingly, I noticed when there were fewer people like me. And by asking "is it a boy or girl" allowed you to knock down a LOT of tiles if the answer was "girl."
eveofrevolution 21st-Nov-2012 09:06 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I always noticed it too. Which led me to not want to be a girl in the game, even though I was a girl in real life. She totally has a valid point about the message it sends about women.
sihaya09 21st-Nov-2012 05:40 pm (UTC)
You go, tiny badass.
abluestocking 21st-Nov-2012 05:54 pm (UTC)
That's awesome. <3333

One way to play it might be to disallow the "boy/girl" question or just to say "Who knows? I haven't talked to them, so how should I know how they identify?" That would avoid the multitude of tiles crashing down if you said "girl" that I remember from childhood playings.
romp 22nd-Nov-2012 03:13 am (UTC)
someone upthread said that question wasn't allowed when she was growing up

I like your idea: who can tell the gender?!
glass_houses 21st-Nov-2012 06:20 pm (UTC)
I was literally JUST thinking about this game this morning. Weird! I loved playing it.
lil_insanity 21st-Nov-2012 06:31 pm (UTC)
I came across this blog a minute ago... looks like somebody tried to make their own version of Guess Who with equal numbers of males and females and better race diversity:

halfshellvenus 21st-Nov-2012 07:07 pm (UTC)

ultraelectric 21st-Nov-2012 07:24 pm (UTC)
I like this story for several reasons, and my main reason is, kids are a lot fucking smarter than adults give them credit for. I can't wait to hear the mass populace be all "she's a kid, she doesn't know anything about this must be her parents" uh no, sit down. Kids see through your bullshit and they always will.

And good for mom standing by her daughters side with this.
atomic_joe2 21st-Nov-2012 07:42 pm (UTC)
"Get away from her you BITCH" has to be one of the greatest movie lines of all time.

And kids still play board games? We played Guess Who? when we were kids too. And Connect Four and Monopoly and Game of Life. Fair made for a good evening after a day of churning butter in the olden days I'll tell ya.
jrs1980 23rd-Nov-2012 05:58 am (UTC)
Saw kids playing Connect Four at a Thanksgiving dinner tonight. We did a halfhearted game of Trivial Pursuit, too.
cellared 21st-Nov-2012 07:53 pm (UTC)
"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"

Oh, fuck off.


hammersxstrings 21st-Nov-2012 07:57 pm (UTC)
toddler? at 6?

okay though, this little girl is badass
saturated_style 21st-Nov-2012 08:14 pm (UTC)
Random comment about Guess Who?: If you have a tight knit enough social circle, the most fun you can have is by making a personal drinking game of Guess Who? using everyone's Facebook profile pic. Rules change a little, since you'll be asking questions about them as personalities you know personally as opposed to basing it on facial characteristics, but the outcomes are pretty great.
tabaqui 21st-Nov-2012 08:58 pm (UTC)
Awesome letter is awesome. :)

I never heard of this game and had to Google it - the wiki article says the '80's version has only five girls/women, but in the 2000's, they made the male/female ration more equal.

I wonder how equal? And why in hell wouldn't they just make it equal to begin with?

romp 22nd-Nov-2012 03:22 am (UTC)
Ah, must have come out after our time. I'd never heard of it. And, yeah, how did it start with being a female character being as rare and telling as IDK wearing glasses? Bah.
eveofrevolution 21st-Nov-2012 09:08 pm (UTC)
What also amazes me about that game is that there's NO freaking racial diversity. They're all white!
vulturoso 21st-Nov-2012 09:53 pm (UTC)
Uh, no. Some of them are African-American and I remember at least one Asian (female?).
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