Sexism in Pinball: Practical Examples


In reply to @Wizcat - I’m bowing out of this- I think @echa made a super good point above, so this would fall under “further debate of whether a specific thing is sexism”


Well, I don’t understand what you want. Do you want flirty behavior at a pinball event to not be labeled sexist? Is “incorrectly” calling it sexist more distasteful than calling it sexist and making an effort to stop it? You yourself said you didn’t feel comfortable with it. Debating whether or not something is sexist takes away from the conversation on behavior. It is known that ‘notallmen’ and ‘not all x behavior is y.’


So many times this.
Legit, there is a small but vocal contingent who want to keep feminism away from pinball.
I am so very unapologetic about my feminism.

Yep, that’s why I don’t participate in any discussions on pinside, really. Have to maintain just a superficial presence, since I do use it for reviewing games, and tech discussions.
A group of guys there were in to that “g@mmer g@te” crap and pinsiders would repost discussions there on to their anon/chan boards to decry feminists destroying their hobby.
The discussion that followed on those sites was partially about decrying women “taking over our hobby”, partially comments like “These c**ts need to be scythed every time they pop their heads up” (actual quote), and partially “oh I didn’t know people still played pinball”.

On the anon sites, their subtext turns to text.
Other comments, like "They just can’t fucking stop, can they? Wherever there’s a group of men enjoying themselves and their harmless hobbies, these fucking harpies have to come in and fuck shit up."
Real quote, real pathos.


I think it’s important to frame the discussion correctly so that we know the problem we’re trying to fix. Just to repeat - I know sexism is a thing, and I totally agree I would like to see it abolished. But if we’re also going to try and abolish other things too, then let’s make sure we include them in the discussion

I personally think trying to abolish ‘flirty behaviour’ is going to be much more difficult than correcting the sexism problem. To abolish ‘flirty behaviour’ we have to basically tell men and women to stop hitting on each other wherever we go? (To which my response is - well how do we as a species continue? We just rely on Tinder and arranged marriages?)

Or are we just trying to fix the sexism problem (including flirty behaviour) at pinball meets and nowhere else?

And as an aside - are those saying ‘no flirting at pinball meets’ speaking for everyone? If their sister/cousin/brother tagged along to a pinball meet and by chance found someone they enjoyed the company of - we’re saying that’s verboten now?


OK so I googled ‘flirting or sexism’ and came to the realisation that this is not a new discussion. The first article I read was this, which explains the differences between honest flirting (acceptable) and overtly sexual harrasment (obviously, not acceptable). Nothing in here I can’t agree with :

So with humble apologies to the ladies for muddying the waters, I’ll step back now


In some cases, we’re never going to change certain people’s minds about what they think and feel like they need to protect.

But in all cases, we can change other people’s minds by calling out their ridiculous behavior. This is trash. Someone who would say this about other players is a cancer on the community. These are the people who should be marginalized. It’s not their hobby, it’s our hobby.


Joining this lively conversation late- I’m adding my voice from the perspective of being in the pinball business. This has always been an emotional topic for me because frankly it just plain hurts. And it is personal.

I’ve been called ‘uptight’ and told to accept that ‘pinball is targeted at men’. That I should, ‘relax’ and just go to the Pinside Meet and Greet at Tilted Kilt or Hooters (litmus test: would you want your daughter working there having men drool over her?).

I’m a woman running a small company that regularly participates in pinball shows around the country. Some of the owners of other companies in the industry almost always default to talking to my husband about our company. Two very well known pinball company owners regularly come to our booth, shake my husbands hand and completely ignore me, like I’m invisible. I’ve heard that one of these men doesn’t ‘like to work with women business owners’. One owner stopped us and told my husband, ‘Hey, thanks for all the support you are giving us on Facebook. I really appreciate it.’ Never looked at me. Frankly, I run the damn company along with a trusted employee. My husband contributes but has another job. I don’t like the presumption about my role- whatever it is. I often go to that deep, dark place and assume they think I’m there to go get coffee, look good, do the books or be their secretary. But I know going to this dark place is doing the same thing they are doing to me.

Here is what I try to do with my fellow humans. I try to listen to the voices of the marginalized and ask myself honestly, ‘what behaviors do I engage in that may contribute to this problem?’ Part of what humans do is judge others (in good and bad ways). The trick is being conscious of those judgments and the resulting behaviors. It’s the unconsciousness that kills. And another tip I’ve picked up- avoid saying things like, ‘I’m not sexist’ or ‘I’m not racist’. It just sounds like you are defensive.


Yes, thank you. Women have always been in to pinball, they are just now demanding to be heard.
It’s not a man’s hobby being invaded, but a former status quo being upended.


Love that little checklist! Gave me a great belly laugh!


enthusiastic applause


I call it my “radical feminist vagenda.”


So now anything that is ‘undesired’ is treating people derogatory? Is flirting at a bar, when someone just wants to drink also derogatory???

This is what I was referring to before… sliding into a state where we will retreat to not socializing at all because you sure wouldn’t want to be accused of harassing people :dizzy_face:


Just last night I walked the 8 minutes it takes me to get to my favorite local pinball spot and had the following exchange from a guy who pulled over and rolled his window down:
“Hey baaaaby”
“Do I know you?”
“You look good tonight.”
*put headphones back in
"Fuck you."



I’ll simply point to an earlier post on the topic which clarifies this I think…

I specifically call out when there ‘is no choice’ - and to your example of Pinburg, if they want an environment that is welcoming to all, then they should embrace and promote that (which I think they do). The bar example doesn’t have to cater to everyone… nor should I believe they be forced to. If they want to be that way in their niche… I feel they have the right within our legal system to do so. I


As @kayluh mentioned just below you, many women are routinely subjected to unwanted advances. Like, very very often. So, before you go, “wtf I just wanted to talk, why don’t people want to talk anymore?” keep in mind that the person you’re talking to may be exceptionally worn out and wary of people talking to them. It’s certainly not as black and white as, “anything ‘undesired’ is treating people derogatorily.”

[quote=“flynnibus, post:169, topic:1800”]
I specifically call out when there ‘is no choice’[/quote]

I know, but that just seemed like a side topic to me - not really on the point of this thread. We’re largely talking about behavior at pinball events, and pinball culture.


And to make a point that dovetails into this: how quickly a good portion of men become distant and less amiable to socializing once you mention you have a boyfriend. Particularly when I was in a 6 year relationship, I’d go out to see bands all the time and usually alone besides shows that my boyfriend was playing. Guys would talk to me a bunch and I was happy to meet new people who shared my same interests. Especially if it was a show that I booked myself. But as soon as you bring up your boyfriend, they vanish. So maybe not every guy is really just looking for a new friend. I don’t doubt that there are several with fair to positive intentions of just connecting with another human being who enjoys the same things. Though, I have been on the end of that interaction that ceased when the other party realized I was “taken,” and it sucks.


You are missing the point about ‘how does one know’ and if the potential consequence of being wrong is severe… you will retreat entirely. If the interpretation is FULLY left to the receiver without any checks and balances… then its completely unpredictable and hence you must retreat. Then people will fuss about how hard it is to meet people… well DUH… no one wants to be painted a sexual harasser because XYZ person was ‘worn out’ that day.

[quote=“romballs, post:170, topic:1800”]
I know, but that just seemed like a side topic to me - not really on the point of this thread. We’re largely talking about behavior at pinball events, and pinball culture.[/quote]

Yet… you went on this long explanation about how the logic doesn’t work because of workplace examples… :confounded:

You shouldn’t have different rules just because its pinball… that cuts BOTH ways.


I’m genuinely curious what your preferred model of male/female interaction would be for courting and finding available partners? Why is it so off putting to found interesting enough to be attractive to another person to the point they make an attempt to make a connection?


I don’t think this is really that difficult. If you’re wanting to talk with someone that happens to be female, why not greet her like any other person first? I’ve never been worried about sexual harassment being implied when saying hello to someone so why would you? If the person doesn’t want to talk to you or isn’t interested in more than that, they’ll make it clear. You shouldn’t have to never greet someone again just because one person didn’t want to talk to you, right?

If you’re greeting females differently than men and/or adding sexual connotation, you are being out of line. All of the women here are telling you this happens and it makes them uncomfortable.

If your goal is to hook up with people, yeah, get an app. If your goal is to actually talk to someone, start with hello.


I think the focus moving to “How men and women meet as romantic partners” is drifting somewhat off topic. I’d like to pull out of that if possible. I realize how @flynnibus feels the two are tied together via comments made above, but I also feel fairly certain there is an intractable gap between two viewpoints as well and I’m not sure there is a ton to be gained by following that any further.