Feminism 16 November 2012 Hasbro: Being a boy is normal, being a girl is a "characteristic" Guess Who should get better PR. Print HTML You know those heartwarming stories where an adorable child writes a letter to a company and gets a fun response from a PR person with a sense of humour and the freedom to go a bit off-piste? This isn't one of those. The daughter of Jennifer O'Connell, a freelance journalist for the Irish Times, wanted to know why Guess Who? only has five girls and 19 boys in it. So she wrote a cute letter, as you do when you are six. Hasbro's response was that: 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. Looking past the absolute tone-deafness of the response (and the icky double-spaces at the end of sentences – this isn't a typewriter, guys), reading between the lines reveals a pretty disturbing view of gender. Guess Who? contains "five of any given characteristic". This means there are five people with glasses, five people with red hair, five people with curly hair, and so on. And five girls. It's one thing to argue that wearing glasses is a characteristic, but to say that an entire gender is notable for not being the other gender is pretty messed up. Even more so if their stated intention 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". C minus, must try harder. › Melanin without tokenism: black people are slowly being allowed to be normal on TV A screenshot from a Guess Who? advert. Photograph: Hasbro US Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter. Subscribe More Related articles How the “conscience” objection for doctors is being used to threaten safe access to abortion In super-rich divorce cases, I find myself cheering for Team Gold Digger At the Olympics, one question will hang over the female athletes: are you a real woman, whatever that is?