Hasbro’s newest monopoly board game has been announced in the last week and it has a very special theme, that has already raised some controversy. What’s all the fuss about and what do I think of it?
Power of Women and Ms. Monopoly
Ms. Monopoly is a monopoly game just like any other, but with a few twists. It promotes the idea that women are equal to men and that they can accomplish anything they set their mind to it, but actually, the newest Monopoly board game is promoting sexual inequality.
The invention of monopoly is a sex discrimination story in its own: a female called Lizzie Magie sold the patent to Parker in 1935, but never really capitalized on it – it was Charles Darrow who got all the credit, allegedly copying one of her versions of the game.
The properties are repainted to resemble the theme – they represent the greatest female inventions and include the likes of:
- stem-cell isolation,
- chocolate chip cookies,
- home security system,
- modern shape-wear,
- retractable dog leash,
- paper shopping bag,
- coffee filter,
- space station batteries,
- edge-less beauty sponge,
- windshield wipers,
- fire escape,
- DNA model,
- life raft,
- a bulletproof vest and others.
Inventions are nicely implemented and are explained in more detail on property cards. There are a few occasions where they could be better arranged (chocolate chips cookies and stem-cell isolation are on the most expensive tiles and don’t really relate to each other much; hairbrush, coffee filter and space station batteries on orange are other examples), but most of the time they are relevant and relatable.
Check out the hilarious “review” of Ms. Monopoly by Jimmy Kimmel:
Women Make More Money than Men
Now we come to the part, where the real controversy begins. In Ms. Monopoly, women start with $1900 and collect $240 each time they pass go, while their male compatriots start with $1500 and collect $200.
I am not sure what Hasbro meant to achieve with this, but it’s definitely not sending across the right message – a message of equality and equal chances for both sexes. I assume it’s another one of those modern reverse-sexism moves, where women are treated favorably to give a marketing impression that the company is not sexist.
Such treatment, in my opinion, is just as harmful to women as sexual discrimination – in fact, it is sexual discrimination. Giving beneficial treatment to women, sends a message that females can’t succeed if they start on the same level as men and are therefore inferior. That’s certainly not gender equality.
I noticed two more examples of so-called reverse-sexism that happened this year.
2019 was the inaugural season of an all-female single-seater racing championship, called Formula W. 22 female drivers from around the globe were selected to take part in a six-race season. Live coverage available on Channel 4 in the UK got the series quite a big media coverage. Jamie Chadwick won the championship in the end.
Yes, motorsport is a predominately male sport, but that does not mean women are not allowed in it and that they cannot succeed in it. Just remember Danica Patrick, a well-known American racer. But giving them a series is like saying: “We know you can’t make it in the world of motorsports on your own, so we’ll make a series just for you.”
Pippa Mann, a British Indycar driver shared her thoughts on the subject on Twitter: “What a sad day for motorsport. Those with funding to help female racers are choosing to segregate them as opposed to supporting them. I am deeply disappointed to see such a historic step backward take place in my lifetime.”
I believe a better way to endorse women in motorsports would be to sponsor someone talented (like Jamie Chadwick) and give them a seat in F3 or GP2, and to really see how they stack against others of the similar talent, instead of finding a dozen drivers of dubious talent and giving them a seat in series on the sole merit that they are female.
On the 14th of August, the UEFA Super Cup match took place in Istanbul. Super Cup is half competitive, half exhibition match that takes place preseason. It was a clash between Liverpool and Chelsea, and it was a pretty entertaining match. Liverpool won after penalties eventually, but the point is that the game was refereed by a full women lineup – Stéphanie Frappart being the main ref. She did a solid – not perfect – job
Frappart is indeed one of the better and more experienced female referees (refereeing the latest women World Cup final), but compare her to the full pool of refs (including males), she is nothing special – one could even argue she lacks a bit of experience with the toughest of matches. There are at least a dozen of male refs of the same or better credibility, who could easily have been selected for the match.
Still, Stéphanie Frappart was selected and I couldn’t shake the feeling it was a marketing thing, trying to sell how a female can do it as well. TV crews certainly noticed the refs, giving them more screen time as usual and I am sure UEFA capitalized on the whole thing nicely.
And that is what bothered me. Had she been selected on the merit of being a great ref is one thing, but they pushed her forward for all the wrong reasons (personal gain), disguising it behind the gender equality curtain.
The real world is a very complex thing. Although I don’t think examples like the above are the way to go, I realize there are a lot of factors to consider, so I will give them some slack. Some.
But the world of board games is much simpler and giving equal starting chances to all players has been a part of them forever. Therefore, I really don’t understand why Hasbro would use the unequal income in Ms. Monopoly. To give men a taste of it? I find the idea stupid, and it’s not a game I would want to play. And it’s not a game I see a bright future in front of.
Read about Monopoly editions I do recommend.
If they really wanted to promote gender equality, they should finally stop denying Lizzie Magie’s involvement in game creation, apologized for ignoring her, and build a game around this. That would send out a much better message, the one acknowledging women’s big contribution to the existence of monopoly, not “let’s turn the tables on men”.
What are your thoughts on the subject?