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Illustration by Jason Reed

You too can play the ‘woman card,’ with this Trump-inspired deck

Turns out everybody wants to play the woman card.


Mary Emily O'Hara


Posted on Apr 29, 2016   Updated on May 26, 2021, 8:59 pm CDT

When Donald Trump mocked rival presidential candidate Hillary Clinton this week for supposedly playing the “woman’s card,” he couldn’t have known he was birthing a feminist rallying cry.

Much like the “Binders full of women” legacy left by Mitt Romney’s campaign in 2012, the #womancard phenomenon quickly spun from a misogynist jab to a reclaimed badge of feminist identity.

Nestled among countless memes and social media posts—including an epic Twitter thread detailing one woman’s period—lay a few ambitious projects that aim to transform the woman card idea into a tangible reality.

The most prominent is The Woman Cards: a deck of playing cards created by sibling duo Zach and Zebby Wahls, who started furiously brainstorming the project within hours of Trump’s offending speech at a Tuesday night campaign event.

“Trump is a misogynist and really put his foot in his mouth for the umpteenth time,” Zach Wahls told the Daily Dot via phone on Friday. 

Wahls is also well known for the group Scouts for Equality, which works to expand LGBT acceptance within the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. But this time, he’s taking a backseat to his sister Zebby: a 21-year-old illustrator working toward a bachelor’s degree in fine arts at the University of Iowa.

The pair worked quickly to choose 13 prominent American women for the suits, and Zebby’s illustrations of Hillary Clinton (ace) and Beyoncé (queen) were finished just in time to launch a Kickstarter campaign on Thursday.

“We were hoping to raise $5,000 by the end of May,” said Zach, stunned by the response. “And we hit it within three and a half hours.”

By Friday afternoon, the fundraiser page had collected $19,000 in pledged donations with nearly 900 decks of cards ordered. Not bad for 24 hours.

While brainstorming the deck of cards, Zach and Zebby realized there weren’t many decks that featured women leaders. Hoping to keep up the momentum and work fast, they decided against illustrating 52 separate cards—for now.

“We’re definitely hoping that a 52-woman deck could be in the making,” said Zach. “We wanted a deck that would reflect the diversity of the American experience.”

The initial deck will feature a potpourri of historical figures in addition to Clinton and Beyoncé: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Clara Barton, Sylvia Rivera, Amelia Earhart, Harriet Tubman, Mary Cassatt, Susan B. Anthony, Wilma Rudolph, Rosa Parks, Ida B. Wells, and Sally Ride. 

The card’s creators have been inundated with emails suggesting badass ladies for a future 52-card deck, too. People have written asking to see everyone from Oprah to Mother Jones on the next cycle, said Zach.

Expecting the excitement over The Woman Cards to continue, the Wahls registered Web domains like thewomancard.com. In the future, they say, the website could feature an interactive element that allows users to build their own deck with their favorite inspirational women.

There’s time to plan: The Kickstarter page’s fundraising period doesn’t even end until June 1. 

“We wanted to pay homage,” Zach told the Daily Dot, “To the American women who made such an incredible impact despite the fact that the deck was stacked against them—no pun intended.”

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*First Published: Apr 29, 2016, 8:07 pm CDT