Identity Politics Summed Up in a Game


Understanding that Hasbro has been trying to find the profit in contemporary politics by targeting markets with specialty versions of Monopoly, I still am a little surprised that this game made it through to production:

One of America’s most recognizable board games is getting an upgrade. Pawtucket, Rhode Island-based Hasbro is debuting a new game celebrating women’s empowerment — Ms. Monopoly, marking the first time in Monopoly history when a new mascot will be featured on the cover of the game.

The twist? In Ms. Monopoly, female players will get more money.

Switching the “mascot” and the iconography of the game is fine, but creating sex-specific rules for players seems destined to ensure that playing it always has a hostile tinge.

The most likely scenario is that all of the players will be women, in which case their advantage is illusory.  In those cases in which men are at the board, the rules seem designed to emphasize anything unhealthy in the relationship.  Perhaps the man is obsequious.  Or maybe he’s playing the male feminist as a predatory strategy.  Or maybe he’ll approach the game in good fun, but his loss will have the taint of unfairness and his victory will come with a feeling of “Ha! The man won anyway!”

This is only a gimmicky game, of course, but culture is important.  Why not just stick with equality?  Even Jimmy Kimmel gets it.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    I remember a newspaper story from some years ago. Hasbro was experimenting with “doll houses” for both sexes. When the girls were left with them, they “played house” as expected. When the boys were left with them, they developed catapults and shot the “babies” against the walls. Remember “action figures” (dolls) for boys? I wonder if that was the upshot of the experiment above.