Friday, November 16, 2012

Update: Response from Hasbro

Received this response from Hasbro tonight. Here's the original email trail:

Dear Jennifer,

We wanted to get back to you since our email did not fully answer your daughter’s questions.  We love to hear from all of our consumers, especially children, so we hope this response will help clear up any questions.

Dear R____,

We agree that girls are equally as important as boys and want both boys and girls to have fun playing our games. When you play the Guess Who? game, you have the same chance of winning the game whether you picked a card with boy or a card with a girl.

We love your suggestion of adding more female characters to the game and we are certainly considering it for the future. In the meantime, you will be pleased to know that we have additional character sheets that we can send out to you in the post if you ask your mum to send us your postal address. Alternatively, you can visit  to download and print additional character sheets so you can have lots of different fun people`s faces to choose from. You will be happy to know that our downloadable sports character sheet includes an equal number of boys and girls.

We hope your mum does not throw out your Guess Who game!

Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance.

Kind Regards,

Hasbro Consumer Affairs
Hasbro UK Ltd

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Hasbro knows all about selling to kids - and nothing much about talking to them


Original Text


13.11.12 19:35:41
Guess Who

Dear Hasbro,

My name is R______. I am six years old. I think it's not fair to only have 5 girls in Guess Who and 19 boys. It is not only boys who are important, girls are important too. If grown ups get into thinking that girls are not important they won't give little girls much care.

Also if girls want to be a girl in Guess Who they'll always lose against a boy, and it will be harder for them to win. I am cross about that and if you don't fix it soon, my mum could throw Guess Who out.

My mum typed this message but I told her what to say.

Dear R___,

Thank you for your email. Please find below an explanation which I hope your mummy will be able to explain to you.

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.

We hope this information is of help to you.

May we thank you for contacting Hasbro and if we can be of any further assistance, either now or in the future, please do not hesitate to contact us again.

Kind Regards,

Hasbro UK Ltd

Dear ___,

Thanks for your prompt reply to R__. She has been anxiously watching the post box and checking with me to see if there has been a response to her email, which - I'm sure you understand - it was a very big deal to her to write.

Unfortunately, she is now no clearer as to why there are only five female characters for her to choose from in her favourite board game, compared to the 19 male characters her brother can pick. (Obviously, she could choose to be a male character, but as you know, that's not usually how children work).

If anything, your response has left her more confused than before. She is a smart girl, but she is only 6 and still in senior infants at primary school, so she is a long way from being able to grasp concepts like numerical equations and weighting.

As a company that makes toys for children, I would have anticipated you would communicate with your youngest customers in a more direct and child-friendly way.

But I must confess that, despite being 37 years of age and educated to Masters level, I am equally at a loss.

Why is female gender regarded as a "characteristic", while male gender is not?

Kind regards,

Jennifer O'Connell

Updated at 11.15pm: You can read the latest response from Hasbro here

Updated to add: Coincidentally, I wrote about something quite similar for my Irish Times column this week - sadly the deadline was earlier this week, so it isn't included.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Taxpayers are being asked to pay for cosmetic surgery for a convicted criminal - but not for a new hand for this woman

By Jennifer O’Connell

It was just after lunchtime on an ordinary Wednesday afternoon in September 2009 when Alexandra Trotsenko was attacked.

She was alone in her Dublin apartment, and heard a knock on the door.

Opening it, she came face to face with a man standing in the sunlit hallway. He was wearing a balaclava, holding two huge knives to his chest, and asking about a woman called Joan.

“It looked to me like something unreal, something from a costume party. I thought it was a joke.”

She tried to slam the door closed, but he pushed her away. “Compared to his size, I’m like a kitten, so I can’t really resist,” she said.

What happened to Alexandra Trotsenko next is the stuff of horror movies.

The barbaric attack by James Kenny, who was jailed this month for 16 years, left her mutilated in a manner that almost defies description. “I can’t believe I survived after that,” she said.

There was so much blood in her face that she was unable to see for hours afterwards. She has permanent scarring on her face and the right side of her back and body, including a scar on her neck that is 11cm deep. She has lost the use of her right hand. She only has one full-length middle finger left; all the other fingers on that hand are stubs.

Two weeks ago, the Russian artist told RTE’s Liveline about the constant pain she has suffered since the attack by Kenny, who had previously served four years after viciously attacking two people during a break-in.

An operation to fit custom-made replacement prosthetic fingers are Alexandra Trotsenko’s only slight hope of returning to her career as an artist.

Such a procedure would cost “about €10,000”, she has been told. Unfortunately, she has no medical insurance or a medical card, and she is of the understanding that she is not entitled to have one fitted on the public health system.

Members of Ireland’s artistic community were so moved by her account that they got together to organise an auction to pay for her medical expenses, so she can have the procedure.

Meanwhile, on the same day that Alexandra told her story, with courage and a remarkable absence of self-pity, several newspapers carried a story about a man who had received free cosmetic surgery to repair a scar on his lip.

Like Alexandra, the man in his 30s.

Like Alexandra, he was at the zenith of his career when he was attacked.

Unlike Alexandra, his career was one which had done nothing to enrich the lives of others.

Click on the link below to read on

Saturday, November 12, 2011

You want to know the secret of eternal youth? Call your siblings

By Jennifer O’Connell

If you really want to know the secret of eternal youth, ask your siblings round.

There’s no quicker or more effective way to recapture the flush of youth than a few hours spent in the company of those who shared it, thrashing out such important issues as who ate the last strawberry Quality Street, or which one of you broke the leg off the Millennium Falcon during the treacherous Christmas of 1982.

No matter what age you are, how many adult responsibilities you’ve accumulated, or what you’ve else accomplished in life, you can always count on your siblings to reduce you in an instant to that teary, foot-stamping ten-year-old, whose Tiny Tears has just had her hair washed in the loo.

 Image by Fotopedia on Flickr

Just ask 38-year-old James Murdoch. The current issue of Vanity Fair reveals that, during this summer’s phone hacking crisis, his sister Elisabeth took father Rupert aside and advised him to persuade James to step down as the chairman of News Corp, which owns Sky and the Times newspaper group.

Elisabeth may have quit her role in News Corp some ten year previously, but – unhappily for James - her position as his big sister is a lifelong one, and comes with attendant meddling rights.

Rupert did indeed consider firing his son, who has always been regarded as the brightest and best of the Murdoch progeny (a state of play which may not, a cynic could suggest, have been entirely unrelated to Elisabeth’s intervention.) After a sleepless night, the family patriarch decided against it. Still, you can be sure Elisabeth and James will have more than just the remote control to squabble about this Christmas.

Is it any wonder that recent studies have turned the old wisdom about only children on its head, revealing that the sibling-free make for the happiest children and adults?

Click on the link below to read on