Do you remember the game Guess Who?
It’s the guessing game where players are given a board with 24 people and you have to ask yes or no questions to guess who your opponent selected. I remember playing it with my sisters during my childhood often, but I was not as astute at the 6-year-old girl who recently sent the parent company Hasbro an email calling them out for being sexist.
The email the young girl sent with the help of her mother said the following:
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.
What a smart young lady!
Not only is it unfair to have so few girls in the game, it also makes it harder for girls to win if they choose someone like themselves. I didn’t even think of that part. I am cross now too!
Hasbro’s reaction, however, left me scratching my head:
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. We hope this information is of help to you.
Not the best explanation for a 6-year-old girl wanting to be treated fairly so this young girl’s mother responded with:
If anything, your response has left her more confused than before. She is a smart girl, but she is only six and still in senior infants at primary school, so she is a long way from being able to grasp concepts like numerical equations and weighting.
Why is female gender regarded as a ‘characteristic’, while male gender is not?… She is now no clearer as to why there are only five female characters for her to choose from in her favourite board game, compared to the 19 male characters her brother can pick.
What an amazing young lady and mother!
When confronted with dolls or Barbies in a toy store I would think Guess Who would be a pretty gender neutral choice.
Turns out I would be wrong. I’m still struggling to understand why Hasbro wouldn’t equally divide the male versus female characters. Surely there are enough different characteristics to allow for such a change and it would create a far more challenging game. I wonder too about the racial breakdown of the characters and if all races are equally represented.
How would you explain the gender disparity in Guess Who to your daughter, niece or other special girl in your life?
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Photo credit: Photo by Ben Sutherland used under a Creative Commons license.