If you think Cards Against Humanity—the popular “party game for horrible people”—is just a card game, you are sorely mistaken. It’s an empire—complete with alternate card holders and expansion packs that cover everything from politics to design. And now we have a Cards Against Humanity edition specially made for women.
Perhaps you are thinking that women already play the regular Cards Against Humanity, and that there’s nothing particularly gendered about the card game. You would be correct. But Cards Against Humanity has a solid counterpoint to your indignation: the woman’s version is pink. It goes great with a chilled glass of white. And it comes with its own branding campaign that features loopy script, animated butterflies, and saccharine web copy.
In case it’s not obvious, the company created its latest product, Cards Against Humanity For Her, with tongue firmly in cheek. The cards are exactly the same as the regular edition, save for the way they are presented. Until the FAQ starts to dissolve into an abstruse string of marketing-babble (“It’s adorable. It’s cute. Self-care. Take time for yourself. Chia bowl….”) the site for the branding campaign is impressively on-point in its imitation of the tropes of marketing products for women. Mom trying to have it all? Check. Themes of keeping fit and taking spa days? Yep. Millennial pink? Everywhere.
It’s funny, and it’s dark. We recognize the joke because this type of branding is so pervasive—it’s even got a name “Femvertising,” (maybe the clunkiest portmanteau ever). In an unfortunate twist to the progress that we’ve made as a society, feminism is now being packaged and sold back to us in the form of body-shaped shampoo bottles, “empowering” makeup, and countless “for her” versions of products so basic that we assumed they already were. As writer Jia Tolentino so eloquently put last year it in a piece for the New York Times, marketing empowerment “dilutes the word to pitch-speak, and the concept of something that imitates rather than alters the structures of the world.”
Cards Against Humanity for Her may be a commentary on the inanity of this type of gendered-branding, but the product is real. It costs five dollars more ($35 per pack) because “you’re worth it,” and also because all profits will be donated to the nonprofit EMILY’s List.