Update on 8 January 2016: Hasbro has added this comment to their Facebook page today:
“Hasbro Gaming People who have already purchased the Monopoly: Star Wars game can obtain the Rey token by contacting Hasbro Consumer Care when the updated game becomes available later this year.” This is great news.

I am a Star Wars fan (I made that clear on this blog last month), and am thrilled that, less than one month after release, it is already being hailed as the most successful movie of all time. It is on track to bring in about $ 2 billion in its first month of release. With merchandise revenues to flow for decades to come, this is one of the greatest entertainment assets ever created.

And yet I was dumbstruck today.

Hasbro, under license from Disney, have released a Star Wars themed Monopoly set which does not include the lead character, Rey. The four character tokens are Fin, Kylo Ren, Luke Skywalker (who appears for 10 seconds at the end of the movie, but fair enough) and Darth Vader (who is not in the movie). No Rey. No Leia (Princess or General).

Star Wars Monopoly by Hasbro
When asked about this by a number of news channels, Hasbro responded with this nonsense:

    “The Star Wars: Monopoly game was released in September, months before the movie’s release, and Rey was not included to avoid revealing a key plot line that she takes on Kylo Ren and joins the Rebel Alliance. Rey is featured in the following Star Wars games: Hands Down, Guess Who and Chess as well as our 6” Black Series figures, 3 3/4” Figures and Vehicles, Black Series Titanium and Micromachines. Additionally, fans will see more Rey product hitting store shelves this month, including 6″ and 12″ Rey action figures. We are thrilled with the popularity of this compelling character and will continue to look for ways to showcase Rey across all of our product lines.”

If that really is the case, then why is Fin included? The actor who played him was under such strict orders not to release any information about his role that he had to even tell his family that he was an extra on the set, rather than a main character.

The only explanation is sexism.

Hasbro toys list
I investigated further by going directly to the Hasbro website, to discover something even more unbelievable: Star Wars is listed under “boys toys” on their website – see the image above for the toys listings. As the father of three daughters who are Star Wars fanatics (we have already seen the movie twice, and I received multiple Star Wars themed Christmas presents from them), I find this categorisation unbelievable. I am not against gender based categorisations per se. I am happy to list Barbies and My Little Pony as girls toys, and Rambo action figures as boys toys. Sure, there are some children who don’t fit into these categories, but they don’t bother me. But it bothers me hugely that the most powerful entertainment franchise in the world right now – a multi-billion dollar asset – thinks that it is making all its money from 49% of the population. Hasbro has a category for “boys and girls” and this is where Star Wars belongs.

My colleague, Keith, commented on this issue of embedded sexism (and the related racism) twice in the last few weeks (read it here and here), and it’s been something we’ve always been concerned about at TomorrowToday – sadly, when you start looking for it, you see it everywhere. My favourite story about this comes from Canada last year, when the new Prime Minister was asked why he had selected a Cabinet with half men and half women. His response was simple: “It’s 2015”. Nothing more left to be said. But sadly, this message has not made it to Disney or Hasbro.

In the first six Star Wars movies, women didn’t get of a look in as characters. I think I read somewhere that they had about 20 lines of dialogue between them across all six movies. It’s only recently that Disney has upgraded it’s princesses from hapless damsels who need saving to the likes of Tiana and Merida. And now we have a female lead in Star Wars. But apparently someone forgot to tell the guys in merchandising (and, yes, I am pretty certain they’re all guys). What a waste of an asset if they think only boys are interested in Star Wars.

One eight year old girl wrote a letter to them to tell them exactly what she thought. I agree with her entirely, and I am sure my three daughters do too:
Letter to Disney

Come on Disney and Hasbro. It’s 2016 now. Time to sort this out.


Update on 6 January 2016: Hasbro responds.

This morning, Hasbro used their Facebook page to respond:

    We love our fans’ passion for Rey, and are happy to share that we will be including her in the Monopoly: Star Wars game, available later this year.

Hasbro responds again

While this is something of a small step forward, the list of comments on Hasbro’s Facebook post will hopefully make them realise the depth of their error. But let’s be clear about what has happened – it know that it’s not good. It’s no victory.

Firstly, Hasbro’s response above is no apology. This is straight out of the corporate communications department. We’re not Hasbro fans – we’re Star Wars fans. And our passion is not for Rey, it is for women and women’s rights. We’re glad Hasbro is “happy” to include Rey in the Monopoly set, but there should be more said than that. And they’re clearly not rushing, as it will happen sometime in the next 365 days.

Secondly, what about all the people who bought sets without Rey? Can they go and pick up a free Rey character when it is released? Now THAT would be a statement. The drivel above is not!

Thirdly, this is not a victory at all. Victory is not having some tiny concession about a game. Victory is seeing a change in the underlying values of a business that is clearly male-dominated, if not misogynistic. I am not a Marvel fan, but apparently, the same thing has been happening to female Marvel characters for years.

Fourthly, this is not just a Hasbro issue. This is a Disney issue. At least Disney include Star Wars under “girls toys” on their website. We still need to get Hasbro to make THAT change as well:
Disney girls toys

But Disney has a figurine set in their Titans series that excludes Rey and Leia:
Disney set no Rey

It’s available here – please go and give it a bad review.

The Force has definitely awakened. And it pulses with female energy. You’ve also gone and messed with Gen X Dads, who have raised their daughters on Star Wars.

Hasbro, your weak Facebook message doesn’t fix this. We need to see more from you to know you’ve heard us.

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