He Pays, She Plays: Ms. Monopoly in Review

Monopoly has been dominating dining room tables and initiating family feuds on game night since 1935. 

The infamous board game, first owned by Parker Bros then bought out by Hasbro, has had much influence on pop culture over the years. The game is played by millions and is available in 1144 versions, both fictional and board game editions. From Game of Thrones Monopoly to Monopoly: Ultimate Banking and everything in between, the sky seems to be the limit for this popularized game. 

The only version missing? One where the principal character is female. That is, until now. 

Just a month ago, Hasbro announced the release of their newest update to the game, this time called Ms. Monopoly. Ms. Monopoly is the niece of Mr. Monopoly and is a “self-made investment guru,” according to Walmart’s listing of the product. 

Just like all previous versions, players force their opponents into a state of bankruptcy while remaining as financially stable as possible. There are a few key differences though, which in my opinion, make or break this new adaptation.

First, instead of obtaining as many pieces of property as possible, Ms. Monopoly players will be going around the game board buying inventions curated by females. From wifi, invented by Radia Perlman, to chocolate chip cookies, first created by Ruth Graves Wakefield, there is girl power aplenty.

The second and most prevalent change is the toss-up of the gender pay gap in this version of the game. According to a previous article by Newsroom, Hasbro dubs Ms. Monopoly as “the first-ever game where women make more than men.” 

Females begin the game with $1900 in Monopoly money, while males begin with substantially less, a mere $1500. When passing GO, instead of having all players collect $200, women and girls collect $240 while men collect $200. The playing pieces have also been swapped out, cars and wheelbarrows replaced with goblets and notebooks. 

These unusual rules have brought the issue of gender inequality to tables around the globe. According to an article by CTV published in 2017, on average, women with full-time, year-round jobs earned 87 cents for every dollar earned by men in Canada. 

In 2019, the gender pay gap is still alive and well. According to Global News, women now earn 84 cents for every dollar earned by men in Canada. Of course, this gap is also larger for women of colour, earning about 55 cents for every dollar made by men from 2005 until now. 

Rightfully so, females are angry about the lack of gender parity. Ms. Monopoly was created by Hasbro to give the male population a taste of their own medicine, enhancing their understanding of the principles of equity. 

Of course, it’s going to take more than an update on an old board game to move the general population to end gender inequality. Hasbro however, hopes in creating this game, a step will be taken in the right direction. 

Or perhaps Hasbro is trying to make amends for failing to disclose the fact that it was a woman who invented the first game of Monopoly. Just last year, the creator Elizabeth Magie was finally mentioned on the inside of the Ms. Monopoly box.

Previously, Hasbro claimed Charles Darrow created Monopoly and sold the license to Parker Brothers in the 1930s. Magie however, had created a game prior, then called The Landlord’s Game, which worked similarly to Monopoly and had the same goal; to amass wealth. George Parker, the founder of the Parker Brothers company, bought the patent from Magie to create Monopoly. In theory, Magie should be credited for the original game idea however, upon her passing, her involvement in the game was never mentioned. 

In a New York Times article, former reporter Mary Pilon expressed her concern with Hasbro’s sexism. “I think if Hasbro was serious about women empowerment, they could start by admitting that a woman invented the game,” she wrote.

Promoting the remodeled Monopoly in all of its feministic glory might not necessarily be the right approach. This overplayed game is being marketed in a way that is almost insulting to both genders. In 2019, you’d almost assume that Ms. Monopoly is a parody game for misogynistic males to laugh at while gloating about their extra income.

Created for ages eight and up, it’s clear Hasbro’s goal is to try and teach children about the imbalance of gender pay from a young age. My concern is not with the board game itself but with the message Hasbro is attempting to half-heartedly promote to the public.

We should be more sharply focused not on gender but the expectations of a job, like how much time and effort the job entails and how difficult the job itself might be. When considering the amount of pay one should be making, in no way should gender, race or ethnicity come into play. It should be about the skills and competency of the person doing the job and how often and how well the job is being done. It should be deemed only fair that the more work is being put into the job, the more pay that will come out of it.

That said, the mention of Monopoly’s feminine switch up is very prevalent in promoting awareness of an equal community. In creating this version of the game, women hold a hierarchy above men, so rather than fixing gendered stereotypes we’re just flipping the characters around and settling for that. 

As we’re nearing 2020, we should be more focused as a society on creating a completely equal community with an equal economy to follow. 

No matter the disparities, please remember to welcome Ms. Monopoly to family game night with open arms. After all, unless the gender pay-gap changes, ladies, this is the best we’re going to get.