Sexism in Pinball: Practical Examples


Do you really think people go around looking for things to be offended about? What’s up with that? Maybe you might consider that some people actually have feelings that get hurt by the kind of stories that happen in this thread. Or maybe you’re just being an asshole who doesn’t care about other people’s experiences.


Ok let’s reel this one back a notch everyone.


For what it’s worth this thread was directly responsible for making me aware of some unconscious biases I held and for pointing out some behaviors I was making based on those biases. I have since made attempts to curb those behaviors. I considered myself a relatively polite and conscientious person but sometimes we still need things pointed out to us. Thank you @chesh and thanks goes out to all the other contributors in this thread. I’m sure the unwitting benefactors of my education out there in pinball community would also thank you were they aware.


Some do. I can’t explain their motivations- it doesn’t make sense to me and I’m not a psychiatrist.

I don’t contest that at all. But I’m also aware that reality is more than just perception. Miscommunication happens everywhere. If you take an approach of ‘my perception is the only thing that matters’ and combine that with incomplete information- how do you think that will end up?

That’s the dangerous region that has no good outcomes IMO.


Reality and miscommunication is subjective where someone saying they’re offended by someone else’s words or actions isn’t. Each of us have different tolerance levels and just because the majority of people don’t find what someone said or did to be offensive it doesn’t mean the people that do are wrong. It is important to try to identify the tolerance levels of folks before being unfiltered so you know who you can say what to and when.


Not always. There are plenty of neanderthal guys in the hobby who immediately equate being female with being inexperienced. I’ve seen it.


I find this post to be offensive and it should be removed. Because I alone decide what is offends me, no one else. You may not agree with me, but I am not wrong. Since it offends me, that’s all that matters.

See how this goes?? How can you have any reasonable interaction with people if there is no checks against what an individual may find offensive and actionable?

We used to say “you shouldn’t get offended by that” when someone was taking offense to something that didn’t pass scrutiny by others - Now standards like the one you outlined basically tell the person “you aren’t wrong… you decide what is offensive” and just tell others you don’t have to agree with that individual’s take but you must respect it. That’s incredibly open ended, when the things discussed are not just personal feelings, but include real world consequences.

Second, the misinformation element is key… because people can be reacting to things that simply aren’t there or because of assumptions. We shouldn’t build further on miscommunication, but rather correct and then re-evaluate. The “my interpretation is the only one that matters - you can’t tell me otherwise” is the equivalent of shutting your eyes and ears to all additional information.


So because some subset of people did it with some malice… everyone who uses similar language is now guilty of the same? This is some binary world that is completely blind to actual people and interactions…

When I call someone ‘bro’… am I a racist because SOME people have used the term in a derogatory way? No, you would look at context, you’d look at the relationship people the people, you’d evaluate the interaction.

If you took immediate offense simply because of the WORD - and refuse to look at anything else - then yet I lump you into the ‘want to be offended’ category… and we get to the ‘walking on eggshells’ society. If you can actually get beyond the word and look at the interaction and include the perspective of both sides… you have a chance to forge a better place where people have tact and awareness of each other.


Okay, can you describe in what way it’s offensive to you so that we can try to understand you better and make things better going forward?[quote=“flynnibus, post:284, topic:1800”]
See how this goes?? How can you have any reasonable interaction with people if there is no checks against what an individual may find offensive and actionable?
Context is a great place to start. If you’re worried what you’re going to say is going to be misconstrued as offensive, maybe it’s time to rethink what you were going to say! Or just don’t say anything.

Not intending to cause offense doesn’t make it less offensive. That’s putting the blame on the offended and not the person causing the offense. I think becoming aware of what sort of language should be avoided and when isn’t asking too much. [quote=“flynnibus, post:285, topic:1800”]
When I call someone ‘bro’…
Let’s use a real example because bro is much to tame. When you call someone [slur] am I racist because others have used it in a negative light? Well, the thing you said would be in this case. Does that mean you’re racist? Not necessarily, it means you did something racist,though, and there’s a difference.


Unfortunately, any of us could be accused of being sexist regardless of our intent. “Reasonable Interaction” is another one of those subjective things. I just use my moral compass which is always evolving and if someone finds something I say as being sexist I apologize and then at that time I have the choice of continuing saying/doing that action or not. I also have the choice like they do on whether we should interact with each other further.

When I was at Pinburgh I saw a child who was in the group next to me that had long hair and I told a women in that group that the girl (child) was really good. She turned around with a disgusted look on her face and told me it was a boy. At that time I apologized, shut up and moved on. I didn’t try to have a “reasonable interaction” with her.


Thank you! This was my only goal in having started this thread, and I’m really happy to hear that some people have taken it to heart.


@chesh, I hope you know I have great respect and love for you, but this message has bothered me since I read it a couple days ago, especially as part of a “Sexism in Pinball” thread, so I write the following in a sincere attempt to understand…

  1. After you stated “I have absolutely no idea how to play this game”, if your friend had offered a few unsolicited tips, would you have considered those tips to be sexist or otherwise offensive?

  2. If a friend of mine (whether gal or guy) walks up to a game where I’m standing, looks at me, and says “I have no idea how to play this game”, I would personally feel very uncomfortable to stand there silently waiting specifically for a question to be posed. Questions can be implicit. In this situation, I would feel there’s an implicit question of “how do you play this game?”. It bothers me if a legitimate explanation would be considered “mansplaining” or “sexism” or whatever. Is that how you would see it?

[Important aside: if I’m serving as a scorekeeper, TD, or any other similar role, I will not offer tips on a game, even if asked by a good friend… I feel tournament officials should be as impartial as possible, and in that role, I don’t want to be accused of offering player X some key information that I didn’t offer to player Y. When I’m serving as an event official, my usual “tip” if asked is “avoid draining as long as possible”, even if I know the game well…]


After being told that the person doesn’t know the rules, I probably would have responded with something along the lines of “I know it reasonably well, would you like some strategy tips?” (That’s if I’m not acting as a scorekeeper or TD, of course.)


OK, @michi, so my question is: if a friend tells me that they don’t know game X while we’re standing next to that game and I know that game, am I being sexist or otherwise offensive to proactively offer some tips? Because in my mind, if the player states “I don’t know this game”, it’s extremely unlikely that they will decline tips if I have them.


I’d say that this is not sexist (or, if the person has the same sex as me, otherwise inappropriate). If someone openly states “I don’t know this game”, they are inviting comment from others. Why open their mouth otherwise?

IMO, your scenario is different from offering unsolicited advice (which can easily be perceived as sexist).

And, sexism aside, I get annoyed when another man walks up to me and starts telling me all sorts of things about a game that, for all he knows, I may already know quite well. People who do this get on my nerves because they make assumptions about what I know and they assume that I need or want help when, in fact, I may be perfectly content to not get any advice at all. This is doubly true if the advice I’m given happens to be advice that I know for a fact to be wrong, or that I happen to disagree with for strategic reasons.

It really is simple: don’t offer advice to someone if they don’t ask for it. Otherwise, it’s really easy to come across as overbearing and arrogant (whether this happens between people of the same sex or not).

The one time I tend to break that rule is when I observe a beginner in social play clearly struggling with technique or a rule set (that is, outside a tournament setting). In that case, I tend to make social contact and also let the person know that I’m happy to share what I know if they have questions. But, even then, the offer of help is not the focus of the conversation.


I agree with you, @michi, which is why I am bothered with @chesh’s scenario in the context of a “sexism in pinball” thread. If my friend tells me “I don’t know this game I’m about to play”, I’m going to try to help my friend [scorekeeping/TD/etc concerns excluded]. Doesn’t matter if my friend is a gal or a guy. Few people know every game.


Ooh, you significantly changed your message while I was responding, and you touched on the crux of my message:

Righto, but I consider a statement of “I don’t know how to play this game” from a friend to be a question. That it’s not phrased in the form of a question (Jeopardy! style) is not very relevant to me. If a majority of the community tells me that this isn’t appropriate, I’ll certainly take that into consideration in the future, but as a human I don’t want to be overly pedantic about sentence structure.


I’m sure Elizabeth can speak for herself. Personally, I find myself agreeing with the points in her original post. I’ve observed a fair bit of this behaviour at various events Down Under. Sexism is often subtle, but it is there, and I find it distasteful, at the least.

I’m also prepared to give women the benefit of the doubt, in the sense that many women encounter so much sexist behaviour on a daily basis that, sometimes, they end up being on a short fuse and do or say something that men perceive as an over-reaction. If I were a woman, I’d probably be on a short (or much shorter) fuse, too. There is only so much crap I can take before I lose it…

As I said, if a woman says “I don’t now how to play this game”, I take that as an invitation to respond. If I then say “if you like, I can give you a basic run-down of the rules”, I don’t think that’s being sexist; instead, I think that’s being helpful, and it is no different from how I would respond to a man making the same statement. And, of course, the woman is free to respond “Thanks, but I think I’ll give it a shot myself first and see what I can learn on my own.” (I have been in exactly this situation many times, saying to someone “I have no idea how to play this thing.” Quite often the response is “I can show you a few things” and, inevitably, I gladly take up the offer, whether the offer is from a man or a woman.)

I think the point here is that things become sexist when men assume that a woman needs to be helped and then proceed to help her whether she wants it or not. It’s nice to ask first and be prepared to take “no” for an answer. Otherwise, the “offer” is simply an implicit assumption that the woman is incompetent.


No, because we are friendly. But, I was refreshed that he’d taken to heart what women have said in this thread and elsewhere and was obviously making a conscious effort. That was the only point behind relaying the anecdote.


Fair enough… thanks for the clarification, @chesh. That makes sense.