Dutch psychology graduate creates gender neutral pack of cards to target 'subtle inequality'

·2 min read

Watch: Dutch woman creates gender-neutral card decks

A Dutch woman has created a gender neutral pack of cards which removes the need for Kings, Queens and Jacks.

Indy Mellink was inspired to create the new form of deck after questioning why a king should be worth more than a queen.

The 23-year-old forensic psychology graduate was encouraged by her father to turn the traditional pack of cards on its head.

"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," she said in an interview.

Genderless playing cards designed by Indy Mellink lie on a table in Oegstgeest, Leiden , Netherlands January 15, 2021. Picture taken January 15, 2021. REUTERS/Eva Plevier
The genderless playing cards feature gold silver and bronze images. (Reuters)
Indy Mellink, designer of genderless playing cards, poses in Oegstgeest, Leiden , Netherlands January 15, 2021. Picture taken January 15, 2021. REUTERS/Eva Plevier
Indy Mellink, the designer of the playing cards. (Reuters)

"Even subtle inequalities like this do play a big role."

To create the gender neutral deck, Mellink replaced the images of a king, queen and jack with with gold, silver and bronze cards.

The new cards feature images of gold bars, silver coins and a bronze shield.

The first 50 decks of GSB (Gold, Silver, Bronze) cards were quickly snapped up by her friends and family and Mellink then began selling them online.

Within a few months, she had sent out around 1,500 packs, including to Belgium, Germany, France and the US. Game shops have also shown interest, she said.

Mellink has been testing the cards out on players, who said they had never been conscious of sexual inequality in decks before. Switching would take some getting used to.

Indy Mellink's family and her boyfriend play cards in Oegstgeest, Leiden , Netherlands January 15, 2021. Picture taken January 15, 2021. REUTERS/Eva Plevier
The cards being used in a game. (Reuters)

"It is good that we reflect on gender neutrality," said Berit van Dobbenburgh, head of the Dutch Bridge Association, while playing with the new cards.

It would be complicated to make a formal switch because that would require updating the rules, she said.

"I wonder if it's worth it. But gender neutrality, I am all for it! It's great that someone of this age has noticed this. It's the new generation."

Playing cards as we know them arrived in Europe in the Middle Ages having been adapted from a created by the Mamluks - an empire which spanned the Middle East at the time.

The packs were changed from Mamluk formats to represent European royalty and court figures.

A description from 1377 shows a "king", an upper marshal that held his suit symbol up, and a lower marshal that held it down were used.

Queens then appeared sporadically in packs as early as 1377, especially in Germany and the pack of cards we know today was standardised hundreds of years later.

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