2016 WSoP stats: minutes played: 45. Sexist microaggressions witnessed: 3.
When I wrote my semi-recent blog about misogyny in poker, I felt like I had copped out a bit by only focusing on the hot button topics like rape coming from famous pros. I wanted to talk about the little stuff a bit, and now that I've spent 45 minutes playing at the World Series of Poker this year, I have 3 new stories of microaggressions to share. Yes, 3 in 45 minutes.
A microaggression is exactly what it sounds like. Per top google result, it is a "subtle but offensive comment or action directed at a minority or other nondominant group that is often unintentional or unconsciously reinforces a stereotype".
I buy into the $1,500 NL 45 minutes before dinner break (I am currently writing this on dinner break). A few minutes later an attractive blond girl in her 20's sits down. A dealer in his 60's with a charming southern drawl joins us a few minutes after that. He's clearly trying to be polite. He goes out of his way to make a couple comments about the young lady, calling her beautiful with no context. She gives a fake smile and puts her headphones back on. My read on the situation was that she was annoyed, but the dealer read the signs differently. Whatever, maybe it's no big deal. He starts saying a 3rd thing to her. She lets a slightly bigger but still somewhat subtle sign of aggravation out on her face as she takes her headphones off this time. He proceeds to tell the following joke:
** #1 **
"Why did god make women beautiful? So that men can love them. Why did god make them stupid? So that they can love me."
Dude, are you fucking serious? You work in the service industry, and this is how you talk to customers? Even if this joke wasn't incredibly degrading, it still would not be funny. Why do you think the young lady with headphones on would want to hear this? And just to be clear, I'm not only upset about the "women are stupid" half. Implying that beauty is the only reason to love a woman is probably not what they want to hear.
The girl is clearly unhappy but just puts her head phones back on. The dealer makes some other worthless comment on the back of this joke, and I say, "You know, some people might not like hearing that."
"Hey, I'm a dealer, it comes with the territory!"
"I don't think calling your customers stupid comes with any territory."
** #2 **
A middle-aged eastern European man sitting next to the left of the lady jumps in on the jokes. I couldn't quite hear everything he said, but it was something along the lines of, "God made women out of only a rib, so they can't have brains." Great joke buddy. I'm sure I missed the subtlety and comedic timing that would have made it truly an elite joke.
The dealer defends himself a bit and eventually gives an apology as he leaves the table 20 minutes later which included, "I'm sorry if I offended anyone". The woman was extremely polite and said, "I appreciate that".
Incident #3 was far less appalling than the first two, but to me it was just the perfect icing on the cake. Dealer #2 appears to be in his early 30's and is a relatively sharp looking clean cut guy. He sits down as I'm saying to the girl, "I'm sorry but I have to ask. On a scale of charming to annoying as fuck, how would you rate that dealer?" She smiles, shakes her head, and gives the very polite answer of, "Well, he certainly had some old school jokes". I tell her, "That's a very political answer", and she expands a bit saying the joke was rude and she didn't appreciate any of his chit chat, but not too much beyond that.
** #3 **
The poker action folds to a guy on the lady's right. He's on his iPad watching sports and doesn't realize it's his turn. I wave my hands above his screen to get his attention. As he folds, the girl says, "He was watching fùtbol." She enunciated the word very carefully and was clearly trying hard to mimic a European accent. The dealer doesn't pick up on this I guess, and corrects her. "No, that's soccer." I instantly face palm hard, and the girl raises her eyebrows as if to say, "Is this real life right now? Are you fucking kidding me?" Still, she remained extremely polite and said nothing.
To the dealer's credit, I think he fairly quickly realized his mistake and felt bad about it. It was an innocent mistake I'm sure, but not one that was the result of anything resembling overestimation of her intelligence.
So why am I sharing this? A ton of people think that women are seen as equals at the poker table and there are no problems. My blog got a lot of criticism saying that this kind of thing is extremely rare. Some people said they had never once seen anything resembling sexism or misogyny at the table.
I'm sorry, but it's just not that uncommon. I have played a grand total of 45 minutes at the WSoP, and I already have the above 3 stories to share. Let's just stop for a minute and realize that it must be exhausting for women to put up with this bullshit every day. I promise you, it's really not that rare.