We are pleased to introduce a new series to the Bad at Sports blog. Off-Topic invites artists, curators, writers, and cultural workers to discuss a subject not directly related to the practice of making art. We would like to welcome Shawnee Barton as the first participant in this series with her post, “Thoughts on Feminism and Poker” . Shawnee is currently working on a project in which she keeps a roaming blog on other blogger’s sites. She also will be in the show ” Artist: Unemployed”, a solo installation at LivingRoom Gallery in Chicago, on November 20th. Check back in the coming weeks to see other contributions to the series.
Guest post by Shawnee Barton
Thoughts on Feminism and Poker
The last time I was at the underground poker club on Ashland and Division in Chicago, it was 3 a.m. when I noticed that there was porn on every television in the card room. The porn wasn’t on at 9, 11, or even at 1 a.m, but apparently social conventions left at 3. This club has since been robbed and moved to another location, but when it was still in business, 3 a.m. was also the time when the tiny female server in an even tinier black dress stopped serving cocktails.
I’ve given a lot of thought to what I should wear to work, and by “work” I mean the poker table. The media clearly rewards female poker players who show cleavage. If I want to be famous in the poker community, which is a lucrative aspiration, getting my own little black dress would certainly be a shortcut to one measure of success. Unfortunately though, showing some skin can have consequences at the table.
One of the easiest ways to spot a bluff is to watch someone’s chest to see if the person stops breathing. People naturally have a freeze/flight/fight response to stress, but because poker players can’t run away or smack the guy across the table, they will often just sit there frozen and hold their breath after bluffing. Similarly, when people are excited (like when they look down and see pocket aces), the large vein running down the side of the neck pumps blood so hard and fast that you can often see it pulsing from across the felt. Both of these tells are much more visible on a woman wearing a low cut tank top than on a big guy in a hooded sweatshirt. Read more