Without fail, the "woman card" seems to become a popular buzzword during every major election that involves a woman — and without fail, it seems to be used far more often against women than in favor of them. In recent years, that has often meant that it's associated with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. On Tuesday, Clinton took back the woman card in a big way, telling her supporters to "deal her in."
Clinton spoke to a large crowd in Philadelphia on Tuesday, following her sweeping victories in four of the five states that voted that day, including Pennsylvania. In her victory speech, Clinton addressed the criticism that she has gotten for playing the so-called woman card throughout her campaign, saying, "If fighting for women's health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the 'woman card,' then deal me in!"
It didn't take long for Republican frontrunner Donald Trump to double down on previous comments: "I think the only card she has is the woman card. She's got nothing else going. And frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don't think she'd get 5 percent of the vote."
Trump's comments only reinforced the unfortunate trend: the idea that there's a woman card in politics, and that using it is a bad thing. As it turns out, Tuesday wasn't the first time that Clinton has owned the notion of the woman card, and it certainly wasn't the first time that women have pushed back against the idea that their gender is a tool for pandering.
Clinton is no stranger to the "woman card" attack, and she has come up with some pretty remarkable ways to turn it around in the past. In July, Clinton responded to Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell's gendered attacks by saying:
There is a gender card being played in this campaign. It's played every time Republicans vote against giving women equal pay, deny families access to affordable child care or family leave, refuse to let women make decisions about their health or have access to free contraception. These aren't just women's issues, they are economic issues that drive growth and affect all Americans.
Actress, author, and all-around feminist Lena Dunham is a proud Clinton supporter — and she has also addressed the misunderstood notion of the woman card. As Dunham said on social media after she indicated her support for Clinton, the woman card is a fallacy because women don't make political decisions based on something as surface-level as gender. "Accusing women of supporting Hillary just because she’s female is misogynistic B.S. — women are smart enough to make decisions based on a number of factors: policy, track record, campaign strategy," Dunham wrote in an Instagram caption.
Cards Against Harassment
Talk about taking the gender card literally. In 2014, a woman named Lindsey (she prefers not to use her last name publicly) started a campaign called Cards Against Harassment. After realizing how often she was subject to harassing comments and behavior in her everyday life, Lindsey began passing out cards to the men who harassed her. The cards attempted to explain to the men what was wrong with their behavior, with sayings such as, "It's not a compliment. It's harassment." If there's one woman card that women need in their lives, it's definitely Lindsey's, not Trump's.
Thanks to gendered attacks like Trump's, the woman card is in desperate of re-claiming. Gender shouldn't be grounds for a political attack any more than talking about women's issues should be taboo. If both Clinton's and Trump's campaigns continue to find success in the upcoming primaries and nominating conventions, one can only hope that the conversation steers clear of the gender card once and for all.