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Opinion: A Ms-take: Why Ms Monopoly missed the mark

by Lucy Hughes Lucy Hughes

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  • Posted on Friday 13th September, 2019

Don’t get me wrong, I love a game of Monopoly. I grew up with our trusty, tattered box of the Yorkshire edition (obviously) and at one point I even had the app on my iPad – which, at £4.99 a pop, is quite an investment for me as far as apps go. Every week, Hasbro (note the ‘bro’) seems to launch a new edition: there’s a socialist version, a cheat’s version, editions devoted to Queen, ABBA, 007 – you name it, there’s a Monopoly for it.

However, the brand’s newest launch is an unfortunate one: a misplaced endeavour into ‘wokeness’, attempting to capitalise on the feminist movement and playing on the gender pay gap.

The news of ‘Ms Monopoly’ launching hit headlines in September, and already it has amassed news coverage across multiple national publications, both in the UK and the US – much of which wasn’t the most positive.

Frankly, the use of the word ‘Ms’ as a preface to the game is enough to garner criticism from some quarters. Monopoly editions of past times have never required a gendered title. It also comes across self-consciously – you can practically hear the marketing team in the background arguing that ‘Miss’ is too juvenile, ‘Mrs’ too presumptive, but ‘Ms’ is just right.

Titles aside, it’s also the implication that the gender pay gap is something to poke fun at. Across the world and in the huge majority of industries, women still receive less than men in their pay-packet. This blog isn’t about wider socio-economic implications of pay inequality, but you can’t deny that a game in which the female players are generously given extra to pass ‘Go’, is not going to present itself to the average shopper in a light that empowers females. Shoppers are now more aware than ever of the nuances of sexism.

Ms Monopoly is a total misreading of the consumer climate – brands are called upon now to work with their target market rather than just sell to them. If Hasbro really were keen to make a splash about the gender pay gap, a simple stunt could have done the trick.

Piling up the thousands of pounds in Monopoly cash outside the Bank of England to reflect pay disparity in the UK would have been a much more empowering message, and a strong picture story that would have added a bit of variation to the constant headlines announcing new editions of the game.

Surely this will be put down as a bad joke and we can all look forward to the next launch which will hopefully be a little more sensitive. Who knows – perhaps they’ll charge females less for the app in the future to reflect our lesser wages?! As for me, I’ll stick to playing the Yorkshire edition.

*Googles to see when ‘Ms Trivial Pursuit’ is coming out*