Sexism in Pinball: Practical Examples


I’ve followed this thread and it’s short necro-rebirth with some interest. My opinions on it haven’t really changed.

I can’t control how others will respond to me. I can have the best of intentions when raising an issue, giving feedback, or just talking to someone, and there’s always the chance that person will misinterpret what I’m saying and over-react. All I can do is just be myself and if I happen to run into someone like this, I’ll just disengage. Fortunately for me it rarely happens.

As it relates to sexism in pinball (or anything for that matter), it seems to me the safest course of action is to just not talk to anyone. I can’t be accused of being sexist if I ignore everyone (I think). I’d rather just be myself, but frankly I don’t want to do the mental gymnastics required to analyze every situation and make sure I’m not falling into a sexism trap. It doesn’t seem worth it.


this is a thoughtful and well-intentioned post. i just wanna add (or clarify?) that your plan is not instructing people to be silent, antisocial, and disengaged – it’s just instructing them to be thoughtful and to err on the side of caution. when you say “say nothing” you don’t necessarily have to say nothing, it just means you can think of something else to say that has less of a chance of making the other person feel awkward or unwelcome.


unsmith, the problem with saying “all i can do is be myself”, and “when it happens i simply disengage”, and classifying a moment of thoughtfulness as some kind of burdensome “mental gymnastics” and classifying hurting or insulting someone else as a “sexism trap” is that it’s basically (if unintentionally) saying the following things to women:

  1. your comfort level and feelings are not worth my consideration.
  2. despite your repeated insistence, i do not believe that men tend to engage (often unknowingly) in sexist patterns of behavior towards women.
  3. It doesn’t affect me, therefore it is of no concern to me.
  4. Since I’m not aware of it, it doesn’t exist. (which is particularly convenient, since you are actively refusing to try to be mindful of it)

I think some of the wording of #2 above is important here – i think we all agree that a lot of this is unintentional and unconscious patterns that dudes are not aware of. i’m certainly guilty. i catch myself sometimes talking over a woman, or interrupting someone mid-anecdote, or stupidly assuming they know less about something than i do. i’m not perfect, but the least i can do is admit it and try to do it less, and give a quick apology to that person when i catch myself red-handed.


I try to find a way of talking to people such that I can talk to anyone without giving offense, no matter what the country of origin, religion, race, sex, social status, or any number of other things. The more different from myself the people I talk to are, the more I usually learn. On the other hand, if I stay silent, I’m unlikely to learn much.

It really isn’t rocket science. I listen, I pay attention to the vibe, I’m polite, I try and think before I speak. When I disagree, I disagree respectfully, or phrase my disagreement as a question rather than an accusation. It works most of the time. When it doesn’t, I’m free to disengage rather than fighting a battle.


Please don’t put words in my mouth. All of this is your opinion, not mine. It’s ludicrous to think any well-adjusted adult thinks this way.


i’m not putting words in your mouth. i’m trying to explain what your words sound like to others.


Well unless the other person is you, I don’t see how you can speak for anyone else.

As I said, I can’t control how other people respond to me, so I’m not going to worry about others getting in a twist about what they think I’m saying. I know I’m generally a good person, and that’s enough for me. I would hope that anyone unclear about something I’ve said would do me the courtesy of asking me for clarification instead of assuming something, but again, I can’t control that. So I don’t worry about it.


Just want to note that I got the same impression from your initial post. I imagine that’s not what you were trying to convey, but I read it the same as @pezpunk


you are saying you can’t control how others interpret what you say, but that’s not true – you can easily control it with a moment’s consideration of how your words might be perceived. most people don’t feel like it’s a tremendous burdeon to think for a split second before they speak, but it seems like you’re trying to claim you have zero responsibility for how your words impact others.


Since apparently I do need to clarify, I’ll just put it succinctly:

If I find myself in conversation with someone I don’t know, I’m going to act naturally and do what normal human beings do - follow along with voice and visual cues to steer the conversation. That’s all.


Of course not. If you’re unclear what I’m saying, try asking me instead of drawing a conclusion.

Clearly I can’t just be a dick to everyone I meet with no thought of repercussions, that would be silly. On the other hand, if I’m having a normal conversation with someone and I literally have no idea that something I’ve said is upsetting, then it is equally silly to expect me to magically know that. Speech interaction is a complex thing and sometimes humans get it wrong. I don’t want to live in a world where everyone is on eggshells worrying about offending everyone.


I hear that email/text interaction is even more complex in that respect :wink:


well, i didn’t ask you what you meant because i wasn’t drawing a conclusion about what you meant, i was drawing a conclusion about how your words would be perceived by others.

you’re absolutely right that it is impossible to nail every social interaction, and that obsessively worrying about offending people is no fun. but i think you’re wrong that the only alternative is to disavow yourself of any responsibility for how others perceive you.

i doubt we’re that far apart here - i’m sure in real life you don’t walk around blithely pissing people off right and left with dickish behavior. like all adults, you’ve got a mechanism in place that stops you from saying some percentage of the things that pop into your head.


I’ve said it before in this conversation and I’ll say it again: Nobody is expecting people to never say anything they find offensive or troubling. Instead, the more important part of this discussion is how people react when it is brought to their attention that they have said such a thing. When I look at all the blowups around this for the past decade, the trouble is never what the person said initially, but the fact that when it was brought to their attention they immediately get aggressively defensive and refuse to acknowledge that the feelings of other party have any value at all.

Focusing on “I’m scared to talk” or “There’s nothing I can say which won’t be offended” is the wrong tack to take. None of us are perfect, I actually have friends calling me out for saying shitty things quite a bit, but I always try to intiially react with an apology and an effort to understand where they’re coming from. If everyone in this thread did that, I think this conversation would be much much shorter.


I don’t know why you keep saying this. I have never said this.


okay, cool. let’s figure this out, then. here is what you wrote:

“I can’t control how other people respond to me, so I’m not going to worry about others getting in a twist about what they think I’m saying. I know I’m generally a good person, and that’s enough for me.”

that seems to me functionally pretty similar to disavowing responsibility for how others are impacted by your words. What do you see is the difference? I apologize if i’ve misrepresented your position.


Maybe that’s because

  1. Instead of dialogue people retreat to other places to complain and turn to shaming the other party as guilty
  2. People insist their interpretation is 100% accurate and infallible
  3. People rush to labeling behavior with serious consequences vs focusing addressing the individual impact

It’s hard for someone to acknowledge the other side when that side makes unilateral statements that they hold to be unchallengeable and infallible… without any checks and balances… or interest in other perspectives.

There are a number of dicks in the hobby… no denying that… they exist everywhere. But when people stop having meaningful dialogue and refuse to open their perspective to include both sides… There is only “I’m right, you are wrong” arguments left… and you get anger and hate instead of forward progress.

It is possible to disagree with someone… even on the scope of something being offensive. If you deem that disagreement disallowed - the scope is also unbounded.


What I mean by that is I’m going to approach any new conversation the same way, without worrying about it. If it looks like the conversation is going awry, then I’ll backtrack when I need to, apologize if I need to, smooth out some language if I need to, etc.

This is in contrast with measuring every word in an effort to not get into a situation in the first place. That to me seems mentally taxing and far easier to just act natural and try to feed off cues to keep the conversation level. I’m pretty sure if I was constantly thinking about it, my actual conversation would seem stunted and awkward, and since perceptions are such a big thing now, I can’t even fathom how a new person would react if I was fumbling so badly to them.

To wend this back on topic, I do this whether the person I’m speaking to is male or female. Doesn’t matter to me, I tend to look at people as people, not as man or woman.


More likely, you read that? :wink:


Just to provide a different perspective on this, the following tidbit crossed my Facebook feed this evening, posted by a female friend:

When you leave work at 8pm and are a bit shattered and the custodian stops dead in his tracks to to tell you … “you have beautiful hair” … nothing but gratitude … totally made my day! :slight_smile:

Was this a sexist remark, in the sense that the custodian likely wouldn’t have made the same comment to a male passerby? I’d bet a lot of money on that, yes. Was the comment unkind? No. Was it appreciated by the recipient? Yes.

Let’s all focus on being kind to each other, men and women alike!