'Sexism' Is the '70s Board Game That's Still Disappointingly Accurate

In Depth

Sexism is a board game, created in 1971, which you’ve probably never played. You likely won’t even find a copy on eBay. The game’s goal is simple: get a woman into the White House while overcoming the daily struggles that women face in a male-dominated world. It was meant to educate both men and women and was inspired by a four-year-old’s casual remark.

Created by Carolyn Houger to “bring out the humor in the women’s liberation movement,” the game was prompted by a comment made by Houger’s four-year-old daughter after playing Old Maid with a friend. “Wouldn’t it be terrible,” the four-year-old asked, “to be an old maid?” Houger was not amused.

According to Dangerous Minds, the game is intended for adult players of all genders, and men were encouraged to play as a woman to give them an idea what it was like being a woman in the 1970s (and today). Players would draw from different sets of cards based on the gender they’d chosen to play as.

From Dangerous Minds:

When it comes to the cards that you might draw while playing Sexism, playing as a woman you might draw a card that says “Go back two steps because you’re a woman. You’d just as well get used to this.” Whereas a man might draw a card that makes this incredible statement:
I staunchly defend motherhood, God and country. I’m against giving more money to ADC (Aid to Dependent Children) for each child. I’m against abortions. I’m against women earning as much as men. I’m against paying taxes for free child care centers. Go ahead three steps.

Houger explained back in ‘72 that the game isn’t meant to be anti-male, but to make men aware of their privileges, as well as alerting women to the ingrained and internalized sexism they may be perpetrating and reinforcing. The game’s ultimate goal, Dangerous Minds reports, is to make it understood that all people should be treated as people.

Of course, the game’s not without its biting humor. If someone playing as a woman would win the game, she’d be told to celebrate the fact that she was now entitled to be treated as a person for an entire 24 hours. Everyone else would be treated as usual. If a man won, however, his message would inform him that he’d “won for now” and then ask “or have you?”

Lots of photos of the game can be seen at Board Game Geek, but you can see one of the squares from the game above, a reminder of how limited women’s reproductive choices are, something that’s still very true today.

The game was originally sold for five dollars via the National Organization for Women (NOW). Then it disappeared. Now, a copy might be priceless.

Contact the author at [email protected].

Lede image via Getty; Game photo via Board Game Geek

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