Annie RKH
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A Woman's Own (Spoiler: Sexist) Response to Justin Bonomo on Women in Live Poker

I urge you all to read @Justin Bonomo's  blog post on Sexism and Misogyny in Poker and only then maybe come back to my humble - and possibly sexist, retrograde and defeatist - response:

Thanks, Justin for this piece - yes, it helps reading a man's sympathetic take on women in poker. And no, it will not make much difference. I’m afraid live poker will remain a frustrating and masochistic experience for women and to make it more female-friendly we’d have to strip it out of most of its basic premises and arsenal.

The very setting of a live poker game is a woman’s worst nightmare - the sheer proximity of the male strangers at a full-ring table, the studied projection of dominance and aggression, the intentional provocative talk, threatening postures, and the ‘stare-downs’ are all meant to induce vulnerability, intimidation, self-doubt, and the ultimate surrender of the opponent (see any beginner’s guide to live poker for more!).

To men, live poker may be a mental game and mastering all of the above instruments can be an exciting challenge. To women, it is an exhausting and unrewarding reality show.

Poker is great but for a fair and equal battle (and enjoyment) women will have to rely on friendly home games and online rooms. And because I can feel the outline of a doctoral thesis coming on, I will thank you once again and continue the discussion on my own blog to leave room for all the congratulatory and hateful messages that are sure to flood the comment section!..

This is what it's like to be a woman at a full-ring live poker table...

What it's like to be a woman at a full-ring live poker table...



The problem is as much in women's minds as in men's eyes. Because this ‘mental game’ begins for us the moment we are born girls in a world which depends for its reproduction on female ‘desirable looks’ attracting male ‘looks of desire’. It is very hard to dissociate the live-poker experience from real-life one where we are looked upon and reduced to (and conditioned to perceive ourselves) as sexual objects and essentially reproductive organs.

That is why, of the tiny proportion of female live poker players, a disproportionate share are attractive women, TV personalities or seniors (and two notable gay players). These are women accustomed or immune to the male gaze. Either because they’ve been exposed to it all their lives on account of their looks and/or profession - and can actually exploit it in their turn and literally and figuratively  ‘play with men’. Or because their age or sexual orientation provides a natural firewall - not just because of the different way men look at them, but because of their own self-perception. In their minds, these women are no longer objects, they no longer care about or depend on men for self-worth; they can at last act as free and independent subjects and turn ‘the gaze’ back on men (whether they happen to be poker players or street stalkers, or any other brand of abusive alpha males).

This can theoretically be achieved by political correctness policing and universal feminist education but by the time women master ‘the gaze’ ourselves, we’ll all be ordering our gift-wrapped babies online…

I have only gracious envy and genuine admiration for the brave women who wage our battle at the live poker tables.

Will continue to laud and applaud them but have long decided for myself I am not strong enough and will only play the two games (with men and with poker players) one at a time. So off to my Sunday grind now :)

Justin Bonomo Talks: Sexism and Misogyny in

Actually, I could have used this post/Habitat pic as an illustration:

Adrien Bacchi - Blog Post - Ranking

Hint, hint: maybe RKH Team needs some basic feminism101 training @Adrien Bacchi @Max Guiot ?.. :P 

This is a fantastic post. Patriarchy and misogynism are two great problems for society the world over (particularly for women, obviously) but poker seems to be stuck in the 1960s. Women are massively under-represented in the game (as well as politics, engineering, business and most other areas in life) but the poker world still seems to actively encourage the outdated idea that looking pretty for the men is the primary - and usually only - role for women.

As sad as it is, I'm not surprised to hear that women receive the most horrendous treatment from a lot of men in the game. The fact is, as is pointed out in Justin's article, is that men are horrendous. Perhaps the biggest problem of all is that a lot of men think it's absolutely fine to sexually harrass and/or assault women and it's the woman's fault if she's not cool with it.

Like Justin, I'm not going to go down the mansplaining route as it's not for me to make the case on behalf of women but it's absolutely correct that men should be holding other men to account when they're out of line.

Poker would be a better and healthier environment with proper female representation and we should all be doing what we can to encourage it. A good starting point might be to stop treating women like shit.

It's just occurred to me that my own username might be a little out of place for this conversation.

@Startling Grope Ah ah, no, really? :D

Yes the habitat shows the "dream" of poker as represented, and... that's about as sexist as that.

Same problem in video games I heard.