How I'm Teaching My Daughter About Gender Equality - One Card At A Time

It’s the horrific cases of sexism, discrimination and assault that make the headlines - but unconscious gender bias, the stuff we don’t always notice, surely that can be just as damaging?

It was a forgettable October morning. Overcast. Drizzling. And I’m at home desperately trying to keep my delightfully energetic daughter entertained. Seeing as we’d already exhausted Lego, Pet Patrol, and coloured in every surface of the kitchen, she asked if I could teach her a card game. She’s only just turned five, so I opted to skip the poker tutorial, bypass the blackjack basics, and go for something a little less challenging instead. A game of high card. What could be tricky about that?

Ben Edwards

Five beats two. Nine beats four. 10 beats nine. It’s not exactly complicated.

That is, until she asked a question; “so what’s better, King or Queen?”.

I knew the answer. We all know the answer. Every pack of playing cards has the same ranking the world over. A hierarchy that’s almost as old as the concept of royalty itself. In cards, a King is better than a Queen. Although I obviously knew this, I didn’t like it.

Inevitably, I began to tie my mind in knots. “It’s just a game”, “it’s just always been that way”, “those are just the rules”. She looked at me with absolute innocence waiting for an answer. Her eyes impossibly wide. Unblinking. Staring into my soul.

I’ve always prided myself on being a progressive parent. I’ve never pushed pink on her. I try and opt for sustainable toys rather than cheap plastic stuff. And most importantly, I do everything in my power to ensure that she knows that women are awesome.

She deserves to grow up in a world where women are treated as equals. Where there is no gender pay gap. Where women don’t have to hide their intention to have children at their upcoming job interviews. Where inappropriate cat-calls, inappropriate comments, inappropriate touching are actually inappropriate - resigned to Hollywood movies about pigs of the past, not present on Hollywood movie sets today.

And as the radio behind us played rolling news coverage about Harvey Weinstein, I realised that this simple question about Kings and Queens is a really important one.

My brain accelerated to dangerous levels. Why is the Oscar statue a man? How come the Green Man’s a man? And why isn’t the royal representative for burgers a Burger Queen? Queens love burgers too. Yes, it’s the horrific cases of sexism, discrimination and assault that make the headlines - but unconscious gender bias, the stuff we don’t always notice, surely that can be just as damaging?

I did what any self-respecting parent would do. We changed the rules. We played so Queen outranked King. And since that day, we haven’t looked back.

With the full support of International Women’s Day, #QueenRules has taken on a life of its own. Thousands of people all over the world are playing with our rules. Bespoke playing cards have been created that celebrate powerful women of all different shapes and sizes. And most importantly, this simple card game is now raising money for HeForShe, a charity we’re immensely proud to partner with.

So how can you get involved? Well, on International Women’s Day, we encourage you to pick up a pack of playing cards too. To teach #QueenRules to your friends, your family, your kids, and refuse to blindly teach future generations that men are better than women. It doesn’t matter if it’s at home, or in one of the many live Queen Rules Poker tournaments being hosted around the world. It doesn’t even matter if you’re playing Poker, Rummy or Solitaire. We just want to get the conversation about gender equality on the table.

So on March 8th, make it so that Queen outranks the King. Play Queen Rules, and be proud to have her royal highness sitting at the top of her castle.

It’s four months on since my daughter asked the question that toppled the King from his throne, and it’s still the way we play today. Why wouldn’t it be? Queens really are just as good as Kings, and sometimes better. Queen Liz is proof of that. She really has rocked the throne just as hard as any William, Dick or Henry ever could. And come to think about it, I’m not sure Henry VIII was ever that much of a spokesman for women’s rights anyway. Long live the Queen.