guess who?

19Nov12

Growing up, I was always the kind of girl that wanted to be “a girl” when I played games. But there was one game that was never the case. You see, while I like my gender and like “pretty characters,” I also have an infatuation with winning.

And as a young girl, I knew you didn’t win being a girl.

And that’s what Hasbro’s Guess Who? game teaches. Now, as they told a six year old who had the courage to write to them about this inequality:

Guess Who? is a guessing game based on a numerical equation. If you take a look at the characters in the game, you will notice that there are five of any given characteristics. The idea of the game is, that by process of elimination, you narrow down who it isn’t, thus determining who it is. 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.

But Hasbro, that’s not good enough. As the girl’s mother pointed out, just as masculinity isn’t a “characteristic,” neither is femininity.

But Hasbro isn’t the only one reinforcing these unequal gender stereotypes in games. You are too. The mothers and fathers and aunts and uncles and brothers and sisters and neighbors and anyone else who tells a boy he can’t play with glitter or a girl can’t have a Stars Wars Thermos.  You are all enforcing this idea that gender defines you.

And those boundaries later begin to define children as they grow. We can complain about the gender gap within pay, and we can create meme after meme about “binders full of women.”

But is that the root of the problem?

Education is magical thing. And maybe if we start with how we play, with games our children use, we can change the headlines from featuring the record fact that we have 20 women in the senate to something deeper.

If for no other reason than because we are more than x or y chromosomes.

And if one six year old has the courage and the smarts to write a letter, isn’t time that we all started to do something?

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2 Responses to “guess who?”

  1. 1 Jess Monack

    Fabulous post! I played Guess Who? with my brother all the time growing up and I definitely used to wonder why there were only 5 or 6 female characters. And those characters usually got ruled out pretty quickly because of their decidedly “feminine” features like hair, jewelry, etc.
    I think you make a great point about focusing on “something deeper” rather than patting ourselves on the back for having 20 women in the senate. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fantastic progress, but it’s also quite sad that this is how we must define progress in this day and age. In my mind, true equality would require much more of us.

    • 2 befrank86

      With Guess Who?, the secret to winning is to get the one dark-haired guy with a mustache. (I fail and forget his name). But numerically speaking, he will win (assuming no one picked up on your secret). Yes, it’s a fun game, but it’s the idea of painting a picture of who you need to be to truly succeed. The game could have been just as successful and painted the same “learned objectives” that they desire by being more abstract in the creation of the players.

      But that’s how society is based. Men must prove that they are men, and women must fight to have rights.

      And I agree, equality should require more from us, but it feels like we are in the uphill battle that is truly bringing in circles. Society needs this balance of inequality to feel like they have succeeded, and people are shallow enough that they only rely on “skin deep.”

      Who knows, maybe some day will have an election that is more about the state of the country and less about the personal lives and opinions of the (wo)men applying for the gig. But I digress…


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