Goodbye, Queen of Hearts and One-Eyed Jacks? New Playing Cards are Gender-Free

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday January 20, 2021

Goodbye, Queen of Hearts and One-Eyed Jacks? New Playing Cards are Gender-Free
  (Source:Screencap/Yahoo! News)

Is it game over for the Kings, Queens, and Jacks that have long featured in the traditional deck of playing cards? Maybe so, now that a Dutch woman has created a substitute that uses gold, silver, and bronze in place of the regal trio, reports UK newspaper the Daily Mail.

It was as she was explaining a card game to her cousin that 23-year-old Indy Mellink was suddenly struck by the gender bias implicit in the traditional deck of cards, the news account said.

"If we have this hierarchy that the king is worth more than the queen, then this subtle inequality influences people in their daily life because it's just another way of saying 'Hey, you're less important,' " Mellink told the press, Yahoo News reports.

"Even subtle inequalities like this do play a big role," the psychology graduate added.

And it wasn't just the gender issue that bothered her.

"I thought about it and most of the picture cards you see, are white people," poker blog Cardplayer Lifestyle quoted her as saying. "It's always a white king, queen, and jack. Whether that's intended or not; they're certainly not people of color. I didn't think that was representative either. That's another a form of inequality."

Encouraged by her father, Mellink created and produced 50 decks of the revised playing cards, which use precious metals in place of gendered authority figures. Gold bars replace the King; silver coins now takes the spot the Queen once occupied; and the Jack has been replaced by a bronze shield, Yahoo News explained.

Family members bought up the initial run, the news account related. Mellink started selling the playing cards online and now she has racked up sales of around 1,500 decks to people across the world.

How will diehard card players respond? Berit van Dobbenburgh of the Dutch Bridge Association told the Daily Mail that she was "all for it" when it came to "gender neutrality," but said, "I wonder if it's worth it."

Still, van Dobbenburgh said, "It's great that someone of this age has noticed this. It's the new generation."

Watch the Yahoo! News clip by clicking on this link.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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