On the Bright Side: The Winning ‘Woman’s Card’

Woman CardIllustration by C.A. Martin

Just what does playing the “Woman’s Card” entitle you to? Nicholas Kristof writes in The New York Times, “It has been said that Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did—just backward and in high heels. Now that’s the woman’s card.” Winning five primaries last Tuesday night, the probable Republican nominee for president claimed that that his most likely adversary would not be a contender without the special advantages her gender affords her.

This comment unleashed torrents of reactions. Kristof points out,  “This is the card that in the United States earns women just 92 cents to a male worker’s dollar, less than one-fifth of the seats in Congress, a bare 19 percent of corporate board seats, an assault every nine seconds—and free catcalls and condescension! Frankly, I’ll stick with my MasterCard.” You don’t have to be a woman to know that the deck is stacked against anyone who’s female.

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One of the most forceful responses came from Alexandra Petri in The Washington Post. She details a (partial) list of “privileges” that carrying “the Woman’s Card” entitles you to:

  1. lower pay
  2. higher prices on female oriented products
  3. being told there is something wrong with your looks and/or body by advertisers
  4. being hassled by unwanted attention from men
  5. limits on your reproductive freedom imposed by men

In other words, Petri is not convinced of the wonderful “advantages” of playing this card. Best of all, she writes, “unlike Man Cards, Woman Cards do not increase in value as they age. In fact, they depreciate. Do not collect Woman Cards. Even in mint condition, they are worthless.” She continues, “You can also use it in fun card games, including but not limited to ‘Go Fish’ (what your boss says when you ask for a raise), ‘Can You Have It All’ (fundamentally identical to ‘War’ but you can’t win), ‘Sorry!’ (compete to see who can say this the most in the course of a single meeting), ‘Don’t Wake Daddy’ (mom has to do all the child-rearing by default), and ‘Five Card Slut Poker’ (for men, this is called Five-Card Stud, but this is the double-standard edition).”

Women typically get ahead by working harder than men and waiting longer for their time to shine. Like millions of women throughout history, they often put their husband’s career first and put up with endless aggravation, heartbreak, and humiliation. Often they have been dealt extra cards, including the infidelity card, and many have been abandoned by the very men they have supported.

RELATED: A Woman Who Made a Difference: Illinois State Sen. Evelyn Bowles

Unlike what many men believe, women who fight for the rights of their “sisters” do not want to start a gender war, nor do they see it as “us vs. them.” While the “old boy network” has been around since men first decided to start exclusive “clubs” (the Middle Ages?), part of whose purpose is to keep women in their place, there was no “old girl network” at all. The pioneers of the feminist movement faced, and we continue to face, an entrenched hegemony unlike no other. Progress has been slow and uneven. And it’s been in spite of, not because of, the cards we have been dealt.


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  • b. elliott May 2, 2016 at 9:46 am

    Loved this post! Woman’s card, indeed! HA!