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Sexism and poker: what would you do?

Posted on: September 5, 2011

I like to play poker at my local pub. Once a week, if I can. Poker is still a male-dominated pursuit, although there are a handful of women who play each week, which is nice. I do find it intimidating to be the only woman amongst a bunch of men. It makes me shy, and I worry about saying or doing something that would make me seem foolish. So I say as little as possible. I’ve been playing on and off for a few years now, so experience has taught me which men are nice to sit with, and which men I should avoid, if possible. It’s usually their conversation that puts me off, more than anything they directly say or do to me. Only once have I thought that a guy really didn’t like me, simply because I was a woman. I’d taken a lot of chips from him by being a bit sneaky, and he took offense. He seemed to think that I should have bet honestly. Because the game if poker is founded on honesty, isn’t it?
Anyway, I was sitting on a final table the other night, with some of the men I usually try to avoid. The guy next to me told a sexist joke to the guy on his other side. He said it quietly, but I still heard. The joke was related to the conversation they’d been having, so it wasn’t an attack on me. But I felt pretty uncomfortable, especially when the teller then repeated the joke for the whole table to hear. They all laughed. I kept quiet. I thought about saying something, but decided not to bother. At least one of the other men (one of my favourites, actually) did point out that it was in fact sexist.
Should I have said something? I did find the joke pretty offensive. I’m not the kind of person who is easily offended, either. I can appreciate a joke, even if it is a bit off, sometimes. This one was just plain crass and un-funny. And I can’t help wondering what the guy telling the joke was thinking. Was he trying to single me out? Testing the boundaries? Or did he think I would find it funny, too? I don’t know.

What do you think? What would you have done? Have you had any similar experiences, and how have you dealt with them?

1 Response to "Sexism and poker: what would you do?"

Poker would be quite male dominated wouldn’t it? I must say I find it hard to hold my tongue in those kind of situations but always end up feeling more upset in the end as the men who find the jokes funny, find ruffling a woman’s feathers even funnier. So who knows what the best way to deal with it is?

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