Some combatants in the war on women are of such tender age that they probably haven’t yet heard of male chauvinism, let alone are able to spell it. One of them, a 6-year-old girl living in Ireland, was so vexed by the discriminatory treatment of the fairer sex in the children’s game Guess Who? that she dashed off a letter to the manufacturer, Hasbro. Actually, it was her mom, Jennifer O’Connell, who dashed off the letter, though the child swears her mom functioned solely as her typist.
CBC News has 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, [sic] 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.
Mmm, I dunno. R______ insists that her mother was strictly her amanuensis, but the claim that she “could throw Guess Who out” if Hasbro doesn’t “fix it soon” suggests the elder O’Connell may have had a more central, and perhaps even advisory, role.
That is a presumption that seems borne out by the mother’s penning the second letter after Hasbro replied to the initial one. In their response, the makers explain that the designers of Guess Who? used an algorithm to assign physical features. These include different configurations of facial hair—characteristics that females, if they are lucky, will lack.
The mother’s letter attempts to be analytical, but the tone is testier than that of her daughter. “Unfortunately,” she laments, R______ “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. (Obviously, she could choose to be a male character, but as you know, that’s not usually how children work).”
It is interesting that O’Connell professes to know “how children work.” Having ushered three children of my own through their formative years, which included playing Guess Who?, my sense is that kids, left to their own devices, spend more time worrying about winning than grousing about underrepresentation of their sex. This is the sort of noxious idea that enters their own developing minds only when it is placed there by a parent with an axe to grind over the most trivial injustice.
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