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What Shall I Be? 60s Board Game Spotlights Rapid Social Change

In dystopian fiction, we see themes of curtailed freedoms and societies that strive to eliminate individualism. Does it look like this?

I’ll be giving a talk about themes in dystopian fiction at the Free Women Forum in Austin this weekend. All that thinking about individualism, feminism, and choice brought back memories of a board game we had when I was a kid. I dug around on Ebay until I found it…

 

What Shall I Be? The Exciting Game of Career Girls, which was first released in 1966 and was released in different editions in 1972 and 1976, might look like something out of a dystopian nightmare to today’s girls and young women.

It is pretty disturbing by today’s standards, but remember, girls—my mom’s generation didn’t have many choices.

Mom was a practical feminist. She wasn’t able to go to college, and had fewer options than those presented in the board game, yet she forged a successful early career from her limited choices. She even kept working full time after I was born, but when she became pregnant with twins four years later, she had to quit her job at the downtown offices of a major corporation where she’d been promoted to a staff position in Personnel. In less than a decade, she’d clawed her way up to a job that was supposed to require a college degree. Then, because daycare didn’t exist, she quit to be a stay-at-home mom, and returned to work eight years later.

If you read or write enough dystopian fiction, you see themes of curtailed freedoms and societies that strive to eliminate individualism. Thankfully, you also see lots of strong female characters that are willing to fight for change and question authority. I wonder how some of the recent dystopian heroines, like Jen Talbot, Katniss, Tris, and my Careen from The Resistance Series would react to the choices in the earliest version of the board game?

“Hmmm…what shall I be?”

Ballerina
Actress
Model
Nurse
Teacher
Stewardess

 

Obviously, some of the training for these careers was arduous. *snort* But the hearts, collected as players progress around the board, highlight character traits which make the players ill-suited for certain careers. *sigh*

You are overweight game card

 

Thankfully, the choices in 1976 version of the board game had evolved a bit, to:

Surgeon
Jockey
Astronaut
Commentator (on a news program)
Theater director
Lawyer

I love to read and write about strong, capable young women like my own daughter, who is a graduate student pursuing a Ph.D in economics, and an activist for liberty. She’s also been a ballerina, an actress, and and a stage manager. And she’s free to choose whatever path she likes for her future, which is exactly the kind of world her grandmother dreamed of for her.

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