Sexism in Pinball: Practical Examples


#134

It bothers me the most that the girl is sitting to play…

I lurk interesting threads on Pinside here and there but the posts mostly seem to alternate from “I just spent a lot of money, let’s talk incessantly about my new toy.” to “Wives amirite”. I don’t want to be a complete hater tho, I’m sure it’s a valuable resource for those looking for information regarding the mechanics and care for a specific pin.

To reiterate the point that a lot of posters have already made is that there isn’t anything on PInside saying “No Anne’s allowed”, but those kind of posts just don’t really make it the homie I want to kick it with.


#135

I (disclaimer - gay guy, not a woman) love Pinside for its prolific activity and wealth of information, but the seedy boy’s club atmosphere is awful. When I first got into pinball I did what I always do when I get into something - find the biggest online forum. I immediately stumbled across a thread about how Caitlyn Jenner is a monster, which made me both angry and nauseous. That and a couple of weird irl things almost totally put me off pinball, until I found the Skillshot zine/podcast, which was so friendly and welcoming, and thankfully got back into pinball (goodbye, money).

The Woah Nellie thing is a whole weird situation that ties into why so much sexism goes unnoticed by the people perpetrating it. Imagine if Woah Nellie was about hunky farmers, visibly engorged in their butt-hugging cutoffs, inviting the player to get metaphorically funky - would the Pinside crowd be as hot to defend it? Or would they go “ick” and put Stern down? Women are portrayed in a lascivious manner over and over in all kinds of media, which contributes to this ambient cultural idea that women exist to serve men, as if you can just put enough coins into them and they’ll deliver sex. It’s why you hear guys talking about their dates “putting out”.

Men also get a lot more violent over rejection, which goes hand in hand with the cultural expectations of subservience. You might say, well, I’m just trying to pay a compliment, but how many women have had an experience where a man flatters them, then asks them on a date, then gets angry when they say no? I’ve seen it even happen on the street - a guy catcalls a woman, who ignores him, and then he calls her a rude, violent name. It sucks, but the wariness isn’t unfounded, and if the only outcome is that you might have to curtail your compliments, then maybe that’s something that can be lived with.

And a woman being called a cow is sexist. It’s fatphobic and mean in general, but it’s also sexist because that’s an insult that gets hurled at women more than it gets hurled at men (if it ever does). I know. I’m a fat guy. I’ve heard it all, but I’m not treated in the same way fat women are. Can you imagine a woman in a car telling a guy on the sidewalk that he has nice hair, and then calling him a fat hog when he ignores her? It’s all these little things that add up.


#136

Glad to hear you were able to find something to bring you back into the community, and thanks for sharing your experiences.

I find a frequent reaction to the Nellie issue to be the observation that pinball is a male-dominated community. While that may be true demographically, it’s weird to hear an argument that essentially says it’s okay to alienate people who aren’t already “in the club”.


#137

I really wish I had logged on to see this thread earlier, but I’ll happily chime in this far down.
My goal with our local pinball league? Teach men to stop playfully saying RAPE. Holy shit.
Don’t say you raped that machine when you got a good score.
Don’t say you raped that MPC200 board for it’s transistors.
Men, please tell other men to stop using rape as a casual verb! I am shocked I have to hear it every month and no man says anything.
It’s not a huge ask, or is it?

Anyways, I run a women’s league in Ottawa, Canada, and there are also major leagues in Toronto and Montreal. One unifying factor is that we are all explicitly trans friendly and try and invite the LGBTQ community.

If you think you have a really funny joke to make about your Lola backglass for Taxi, you’re probably not doing a great job at helping pinball feel inclusive.


#138

Also should say that I came to Tilt Forums specifically for the quality level of conversation as exhibited in this thread.
On pinside I found myself the target of doxing and harassment, corrupting pinball with evil feminist values. Members there used anon forums to try and sway others to help “destroy” me. (Yes, I have the screencaps)
An esteemed pinside member assured me via DM that I got off easy and that his friends could have done far worse, if they wanted.


#139

This idea, that we have the freedom to choose who we associate with, isn’t very relevant in many situations, especially the ones described in the original post. It is akin to Trump saying that if his daughter Ivanka was harassed at work, then she would be strong and confident and… go find other work. The logic is that she should bounce around from job to job until she finds one that is free of sexist jerks. That puts the onus on her, and not on the perpetrators. At Pinburgh, should she (a general “she” here) find another foursome? Or perhaps she should just find another activity that’s not pinball, given the fairly strong likelihood of encountering someone who’s sexist. In pinball, she might not have this freedom you have. And that’s the part of the problem. You are speaking from privilege, where you have freedom to avoid things you don’t like.


#140

I’ve had plenty of comments about how I should keep my feminism out of pinball. Or been called a feminazi for speaking out. If they were nickels, I’d have a GBLE by now.


#141

I should point out that the Sinosphere is like that and has always been like that. (The Sinosphere includes places like China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and southeast Asia, and to a lesser extent the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Mongolia, and Nepal.) In these countries, it is considered highly rude to go right up to someone and speak to them without proper introductions or knowing who they are first, and there are specific rules of conduct for politeness. You are to keep your distance and be as quiet to strangers as possible.

It’s why in these countries, part of the American stereotype is that they are loud, intrusive, have no sense of personal space, and are uncaring of the person they speak to. Whatever personal bubble an ordinary American might have, it is way smaller than the personal bubble for an ordinary east Asian. (At least, that’s how it seems to be every time I would go visit my family there, and based on my experiences working within a Korean community.)

[quote=“trunchbull, post:135, topic:1800, full:true”]The Woah Nellie thing is a whole weird situation that ties into why so much sexism goes unnoticed by the people perpetrating it. Imagine if Woah Nellie was about hunky farmers, visibly engorged in their butt-hugging cutoffs, inviting the player to get metaphorically funky - would the Pinside crowd be as hot to defend it? Or would they go “ick” and put Stern down? Women are portrayed in a lascivious manner over and over in all kinds of media, which contributes to this ambient cultural idea that women exist to serve men, as if you can just put enough coins into them and they’ll deliver sex. It’s why you hear guys talking about their dates “putting out”.
[/quote]

I can say this: Kyoto Animation had traditionally created anime series with a lot of eye candy for its male viewers. When they made Free!, aimed at women about attractive male swimmers, the reaction from Kyoto Animation’s fans got absolutely livid. They were talking as if Kyoto Animation was an old friend who abandoned or betrayed them or something. (Free would go on to become Kyoto Animation’s biggest success in ratings and merchandise sales.)

Not to mention all of the heaps of hate any time you have male pop musicians aimed at teenage girls. There was N*Sync and Backstreet Boys in the 90’s, and you have Justin Bieber and One Direction today. (And many others–I’d say the 2010s has seen a resurgence of pop marketed to girls.) I think it says something that teenage heartthrobs like Leonardo diCaprio and Justin Timberlake were the devil incarnate in the eyes of many guys, but once they moved on to become actors aimed at general audiences, the hate wore off. And now Joey Fatone is hosting reality TV and getting more respect from men because of it.

If I had to give an explanation here, I think envy fuels much of it. These attractive guys who win the hearts of thousands, if not millions, of girls and women tap into a kind of primal feeling of rivalry and competition, even if the former consists of fictional characters and the latter are celebrities no normal person can ever reach.

But the point remains: When you DO get cases where something comes out with a lot of eye candy for women, the men get furious. Whereas when you get the tons of stuff with eye candy for men, and women get angry, the men get angry back. I think that’s a double standard right there.

And I know Justin Bieber’s been a gigantic jerk as of late. That, if you ask me, is completely independent of any kind of sexism, and the hate that gets piled on him for THOSE reasons, I feel, is at least partially deserved. What I mean is the initial hate, and current hate, towards Bieber mainly because he appeals so well to girls. (Well, not as much as he used to, but it’s still there.)

[quote=“bkerins, post:136, topic:1800, full:true”]I find a frequent reaction to the Nellie issue to be the observation that pinball is a male-dominated community. While that may be true demographically, it’s weird to hear an argument that essentially says it’s okay to alienate people who aren’t already “in the club”.
[/quote]

Maybe it’s because I was always an outsider growing up, but I never liked the idea of exclusionism. The principle behind it is that you’re part of something that not everyone is allowed to be part of, and that’s supposed to make you feel superior. I find that mindset abhorrent.

Doxxing and harassment? The idea that feminism is evil? I didn’t think it had become that bad. There are circles on places like YouTube and GameFAQs I never visit because of that kind of malice against women, or even men who stand up to women. I figured Pinside would eventually become like that, but I didnt think it’d be that quick.

I like what you’re doing right now. Don’t stop just because they all want you to.

(I haven’t seen the word “feminazi” for a long time now. The word “feminist” in general seems to have taken on that definition lately.)


#142

I’d say that you should hold everyone to that higher standard, regardless of their gender or whatever else. When I grew up I was also taught to respect my elders and hold the door for people. I just do it for everyone. Ask yourself if you’re doing it for the person because of their sex, or as a kind gesture. If you’re doing it because of their sex, why is that?

Yes, some people just don’t want the door held for them and hey, that’s fine too. :grinning: It doesn’t mean I’ll stop offering to strangers. I’ll just take the hint when they say “I’ve got it.”

As others already pointed out, the cow thing is about the gender implied negativity (cow female, bull male). It’s like calling someone a bitch or a pussy whether they’re a male or female. Putting someone down by associating them with something that’s female (implying that’s negative) is a slam on women. It’s no different than calling someone, straight or otherwise, a faggot or using any of the myriad of racial slurs for that matter. In a pinball tournament environment I would hope to never hear any of those words. If I did, I would not think it was a welcoming or inclusive environment at all. I would understand why people of different genders, races, or sexual orientations wouldn’t feel welcome or comfortable.

I’d encourage thinking more about indirect sexism. Most on here seem to agree that blatant and outright sexism is bad and that’s awesome.


#143

Happy to see this stuff play out here. I think it helps.
Hardly nobody on the internet is going to immediately go “you know, you’re right,” but people take ideas with them and they invariably take hold. What’s going on here I think will have a positive effect on pinside.com.
People often say ‘what if it was your sister?’ but this thread makes me think of the ladies in my league, and it really hammers it home thinking about what they may have to put up with. Also a shout out to Martha on Buffalo pinball, they represent some positive co-ed interaction on there, but I’m sure there is some bs too (don’t see the chat). Anyway, young people will see a bunch of civil behavior on there and they’re certain to emulate it.


#144

That is absolutely horrible and I’m glad you were able to push past it.


#145

Devils advocate / counter point to all this is that sometimes men do treat women differently, because they are (in the main) interested in the opposite sex. I’m certain that sometimes these clumsy male approaches may be inappropriate, but (in my experience) it’s not generally done because men look down on women (though again - there may be a minority that do that). If anything it’s entirely the opposite. Men want to seem endearing to women and will do whatever they can hoping for a positive interaction.

So going back to the examples in the first post, I would say to some of them could easily fall into that category. As had been said already, a lot depends on intent. I would hope women don’t assume that any time a male attempts to hold a door open, strike up a conversation, or a straight out make a compliment that this is seen as a hostile sexist attitude… because we’re doomed as a species if this is the case!

Note also - I’m not denying sexism is ‘a thing’ or attempting to make excuses otherwise. If anything this thread has opened my eyes to some issues that I think I can be more proactive about combating now. I’m just rationalising that sometimes, men are just flirting with women!


#146

My wife and friends are typically shocked when I say something positive or feel happy—this isn’t going to be one of those times.

Pinside doesn’t stand a chance. I’ve been heavily participating in internet forums since 1996 or so and seen all this stuff play out multiple times. When you start a forum if you don’t set the tone for discussion immediately, in a specific direction (let’s say tolerability and lack of personal insults) you’ll devolve into mob rules—whatever those may be. Pinside was done for when Robin and the moderating crew decided to do nothing when the misogynest pinbro cult started outshouting everyone that disagreed. It seems like there might have been a small effort to “tone it down” but that all went away as soon as they converted the site to an income generating model. Mixing forums and money will always force this sort of “compromise.”


#147

Man, I hope you’re wrong!

But what do you expect from the world’s largest pinball forum where hardly anyone wants to talk about playing the machines! Mostly there’s commiseration about poor playing, not like here.


#148

This is not a good reason to treat women at pinball events differently. Women do not go to pinball events to be flirted with, they go to play pinball!


#149

You’re absolutely right of course, but my argument is that that isn’t what I would term sexism.

I would term sexism as something that treats women in a derogatory way, such as belittling or making out that man is superior.

I certainly agree that sexism should be abolished wherever it exists, but we can’t surely be arguing that women (or men for that matter) have an automatic right not to be treated kindly by the opposite sex in an attempt at courtship, however misguided it may be. I think standard protocol for misguided flirting may be a gentle rebuke, but not an accusation of sexism.


#150

But flirting with people who just wanted to go to a pinball tournament is treating women in a derogatory way.


#151

These continued conversations about whether X or Y example is “sexism” are missing the point.

If that’s your sticking point, try to rename the topic in your head “Things that frequently happen to women pinball players that make them feel unwelcome and uncomfortable: Practical Examples.”


#152

I am always horrified when I hear stories of all the places women get hit on. At the grocery store. At the gym. While out for a morning jog. On public transit on the way to work. At work. I cannot imagine what that is like. I don’t have a point, I just agree with you 100%.


#153

Hmm, if I were to do a straw poll I’d suggest that more than 90% of people in a relationship happened to find their partner by chance. This argument ‘I didn’t come to the grocery store looking for love’ may be entirely true, but its also how a lot of people meet their lifelong partners.

I’m also agreeing that being flirted with may cause some people to feel uncomfortable (and by the way - me too). But still, we have ways of dealing with this that don’t need to be branded sexist right?