Paying Women More Than Men In Ms. Monopoly Is A Bad Move
On Tuesday, toy giant Hasbro announced a new version of game night favourite 'Monopoly' called 'Ms. Monopoly'.
It's touted as “celebrating women’s empowerment” by giving female players an advantage by paying them more money (women will get $240 when they pass Go, while men will stick with the traditional $200), and highlighting the achievements of women like the invention of Wi-Fi and choc-chip cookies.
Look, I dig the sentiment, and I love Hasbro funding young female inventors to celebrate the announcement of the game. But switching it up so that men earn 17 percent less than women in the game isn’t going to do what I assume they are trying to, which is to highlight the gender pay gap and the achievements of women.
And there’s a really obvious reason why is doesn't work: blokes won’t play.
So, really it’s just a bunch of women playing 'Monopoly' together, getting $240 instead of $200 when they pass Go, and being told in a condescending way how top some chicks are. Newsflash: women already know all about the gender pay gap and are pretty well versed in the fact that women can do cool stuff. It’s men who need to bone up and confront the reality of sexism and women’s lives, and they won’t if they’re not even playing.
Surely it would’ve been more effective to have the game mirror reality. That’s what we love about 'Monopoly', isn’t it? We love that if you manage, through pure luck, to land on and buy Park Lane and Mayfair, maybe some stations and utilities, you will get richer and richer until you eventually win.
And if you end up with nothing but Whitechapel and Old Kent, you’ll get poorer and poorer with every move you make until you end up bankrupt, or pull the classic flip the board over and storm off in a huff to get another drink. Because that’s real life. That’s why 'Monopoly' starts great conversations: because it makes us confront the way our world really works.
To flip it so that women have the advantage makes a game out of our real lives and livelihoods. If we can convince any men to actually play, at best it gives us an evening to feel what it must be like to be a dude every day, and to giggle at how fun and frivolous it all is.
Except it isn’t.
Women over 55 are the fastest growing group amongst the homeless due, in no small part, to the gender pay gap, including the caring roles we leave paid work to carry out and our corresponding lack of decent superannuation (women currently retire with 47 percent less super than men, and one third of women retire with no super at all).
In Australia, women earn 16.2 percent to 21.3 percent less than men (depending on whether you are talking about salary alone or remuneration packages more generally), not to mention the wage gap for migrant and Indigenous women. In America, for example, black women earn a whopping 39 percent less than white men and 21 percent less than white women.
Maybe black female players should get $320 when they pass Go.
Women don’t want to reverse the wage gap. You don’t have to keep freaking out about it, we’re not actually going for an advantage, guys, we just want equality. And we don’t need our own cute little version of 'Monopoly', which, again, casts us as the alternate while men are the default (at least it doesn’t look like it’ll be subject to the pink tax, it’s RRP is $19.99).
A version of 'Monopoly' highlighting the realities for women and minorities, and celebrating the achievements of a diverse range of people could be great. That’s the way to start the right conversations. Give the blokes playing the $240 when they pass Go, while the women they’re playing get $200, and make them confront the fact that this is what they do every single day.
Any decent man will be squirming in his seat by the end of the game, and, when I lose, I’ll feel way more righteous about tipping up the game table.