As soon as I saw the headline, the first thing I did was check the date, to make sure it wasn’t an old story from April 1.
But no, it was from this week.
Toymaker Hasbro announced it was rolling out a new version of its classic Monopoly board game, naming this one Ms. Monopoly. In this version, female players receive more money than male players.
Female players receive $1,900 at the beginning of the game, compared with $1,500 for male players. Girls also get $240 each time they pass “Go” on the board, while boys get just $200. Instead of a real-estate mogul, Ms. Monopoly invests in female entrepreneurs. The front of the box is adorned with a woman in a sassy stance and steel-colored blazer, gripping a to-go coffee. It reads: “The first game where women make more than men.”
As I’ve stated before, I’m all in favor of companies taking a stand on social issues, and gender equality in the workplace is certainly something that needs to be addressed and implemented.
But this does not seem like the right way to do so.
- First, how is giving MORE money, based simply on gender, promoting equity?
- Second, I don’t think the target audience is probably too aware of the gender inequality issues that exist in the workplace, so I don’t think they will get whatever message Hasbro is trying to send.
- Third, I can’t imagine what sort of battles this is going to create when a group of boys and girls is playing this game. In the classic version of the game, everyone gets the same amount of money and is playing by the same rules. That sounds like equality to me, so why would you want to tinker with it? Ms. Monopoly would seem to place pressure on a 10-year girl to explain why she is getting more money than her 12-year-old brother. How is she supposed to respond if he asks such a question?
Christine Sypnowich, head of the philosophy department at Queens College and a feminist scholar, states that “It’s unhelpful to portray women as needing special advantages. What women need is to be treated as equals with respect.”
Elise Gould, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, believes the toymaker could have opted for a more meaningful way to tackle the wage gap, such as looking at the opportunities they provide for women in the company, versus men. Hasbro’s executive management team, for instance, has seven men but just one woman.
In addition to addressing gender equity in its own workforce, Mary Pilon, author of “The Monopolists,” believes that Hasbro needs to recognize that it was a woman, Lizzie Magie, who came up with the original idea for Monopoly, and that the company should not hold on to the original belief that it was Charles Darrow who invented the game. Magie received a patent in 1904 for an invention she called The Landlord’s Game, and which set the rules for modern-day Monopoly, including corners labeled “Go to Jail” and chances to buy up railroads, collect money and pay rent. Sounds like Monopoly to me.
The Wall Street Journal had an editorial about the new game, poking fun at it by suggesting other versions of the game Hasbro could come up with, such as:
- Harvard Monopoly: Asian players who roll six are allowed to move only four spaces. If you’re competing against friends on your family’s copy of the game, you’ll still get extra turns under the “legacy” rule.
- Green New Monopoly: The “Free Parking” space is reserved for players whose families drive Teslas.
- Das Monopoly: In the classic game, players who land on “Income Tax” pay 10%. In this version, it’s 70%. There’s also a new wealth tax on the richest player, taking 3% of assets each turn. Das Monopoly can go for hours, thanks to redistribution.
And as always, the comments on the WSJ add their own sense of humor to the discussion.
Other than from the spokeswoman for Hasbro, I have yet to see one positive comment about Ms. Monopoly.
I’ll be curious to see how long it lasts. Maybe the best thing that you can do is to buy a copy and hope that it becomes worth something in a few years as a rare edition collector’s item.