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All comments by Max Schireson
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I think “female” is relevant to the topic of improving the environment for females in the junior program but it might better have been phrased “female top player” rather than “top female player” if Adam meant “a female who is a top player” rather than “a top player among females”.
July 1, 2016
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At a nightclub I might remark on which women are attractive. At a bridge tournament I will remark on which player appear skillful.

If a strong player happens to be the only black player or the only gay player in the room should that be how they are identified?

“Who did Bob play with?”
“Fred.”
“Fred's black. With really dark skin.”
or
“Fred's gay.”

Just doesn't seem that important.

Arguably this is worse because when attractiveness is the immediate response to her playing with a well-regarded partner it can create an inference that the attractiveness is the reason for the partnership not present in.the “black” or “gay” case.
July 1, 2016
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If I were directing and the rules permitted I would give the opponent a procedural penalty of three boards and make whatever referral is appropriate for a possible suspension.
July 1, 2016
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Today one of my opponents commented on the physical attractiveness of a talented female player. I simply added that she was also a very good bridge player. Maybe next time my opponent will choose a different compliment.

Without this thread I might have let it pass. If all of us speak up a little more I think it will have an impact over time.
July 1, 2016
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Jonathan,

We all give up a little bit of freedom so that society functions better. When I need to urinate while playing bridge it might be more convenient for me to unzip and just pee at the side of the table (hey, it's pairs, if I am EW I won't be there very long), I actually get up and use the restroom. If I don't the authorities will disciple me. This is a reasonable rule.

Just like bridge players should not have to watch their fellow players urinate and smell it afterwards, I think:
- bridge players should not have their hands touched inappropriately
- bridge players should not be ogled or treated as sex objects
- bridge directors should not make themselves more available to men than women
- bridge players should be respected for their ability at the table regardless of their gender

I hope that in 20 or 50 years these behaviour will seem nearly as unacceptable as urinating at the table.

I am not sure that the ACBL or WBF can be very effective in driving this right now - I think the solution is us. We have to make it clear that these behaviors are not ok and lead by example.

It seems that at every turn you attack efforts to raise these issues. I don't know if you are contrarian by nature and just like to argue or if you want to live in a world where freedom trumps the assertions I made above.

I want to live in a world where we all restrain our actions a bit for the benefit of the group. I want to live in a world where a restaurant can't have a separate seating area for whites. And I want to live in a world where women can play bridge without being harassed and objectified.

Perhaps you should start a bridge organization with maximum freedom. The liberty bridge league could dispense with a zero tolerance policy and allow any type of conversation among competitors they want. Ogling women and commenting on them could be allowed. You could have a “girls of the LBL” calendar and website. Anyone concerned with the oppression of white men might like your league.

I think you will recruit very few to your league but I would love to see it occur. You and those who agree with you, however many there may be, can have your liberty. We can have a culture that continues to slowly and painfully, in our eyes, improve.

(Fixed autocorrect typo)
July 1, 2016
Max Schireson edited this comment July 1, 2016
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This article has definitely caused more than its share of moments when I want to stab someone in the face (funny, because I don't normally have many of those). Thankfully I was able to resist the urge; even if some of my posts I wrote as an alternative are taken down at least I will avoid the jail time associated with the stabbing.
June 27, 2016
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Geeske,

“Like”ing your post didn't quite feel right but thanks for sharing.

It is unfortunate that in addition to the normal rudeness at the bridge table that men endure as well you also have to deal with those situations.
June 27, 2016
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Well, I know that the way I play many hands offends and disgusts me and any reasonable bridge player!

In all seriousness we are offending and alienating quite a few (female) bridge players and I hope we will try hard to stop.
June 26, 2016
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Thanks Ray.

While most of the workplace laws won't apply in a bridge environment, it does seem like many feel a significant or pervasive environment of hostility. My point is that if a statement contributes to that (and would for a reasonable person in the same position), it is part of the problem and we need to stop making it if we want people to be comfortable.

This is how, as a non lawyer, I was trained to avoid harassment in the workplace (both as an individual and a manager). I think if we applied similar thinking to the bridge environment we would make it more comfortable for many at the cost of having to edit ourselves sometimes. I think this would be a good tradeoff, others may disagree.

I guess my notion of “objective” is narrower than how the law sees it, but in any case I do strongly believe we can have useful dialog about what will offend reasonable people.
June 26, 2016
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I think the line is blurry around official figures. In libel law there is a distinction made. In community governance it will be up to the site admins who I think generally show good judgement (even of they do remove my post). My point was not to attack Don as a person, but to make the point that those in positions of authority must be able to lead on issues that are difficult and subjective and I thought he was frighteningly far from that. Perhaps unfair to hold him to that standard since he is no longer President.
June 26, 2016
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Wow, Don.

It is really frightening to contemplate a President of the ACBL believing that it is impossible to have a rational discussion of something subjective, when that topic is an issue for much of the membership and has long been legally established as subjective. If individuals with no official position in bridge want to be ignorant it's too bad; if someone who has for some time held senior positions in bridge governance wants to ignore a major issue by hiding behind subjectivity that's irresponsible and alarming.

I'd recommend that you do some research on sexual harassment law as well as the many other areas of subjective behavior that are nevertheless rationally discussed.

There is no clear line determining what is pornographic yet it is regulated. Managing subjective issues is not unusual and if you want to govern a large organization you should understand it.

Note that I did reference Yu's reasonableness and what others in her position might think; subjective judgments like this can have some checks and balances.

My point is not that Ian is a horrible person, but that we all need to be aware of the effects of our small actions on others if we want to improve the environment. I would hope you understand this and I certainly consider it a basic requirement for a senior position in bridge governance.
June 26, 2016
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Jonathan,

My “harassment” of you is based solely on your views. The snappy comeback doesn't address the fact that Ian's presumably well meaning joke (for which he apologized once he understood Yu's context) did actually make a reasonable person uncomfortable and given the overall context in my opinion presents an important if small example of what we all need to work on.

Your attempts to trivialize it bring us further from an environment where all bridge players can be comfortable. I hope you will consider that seriously, though your recent comments don't make me optimistic.
June 26, 2016
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Jonathan, sexual harassment is in the eye of the beholder. While I haven't met Yu from her postings here she doesn't seem particularly thin skinned and I can imagine that - especially amid an environment of disrespect and objectifaction - that comment would make many recipients uncomfortable. If we want to make more people comfortable we have to not say everything that we might think is funny.
June 26, 2016
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Johnathan,

While the topic of this thread is sexism in bridge not in the world in general, I think just a small amount of research will show that women in the US and other industrialized economies earn less than men for similar work. In many less advanced economies women lack basic control over their lives, reproduction, marriage etc. Perhaps you just enjoy being contrarian but your statement seems absurd.

Coming back to bridge, other than not being able to enter women's events I don't feel any gender discrimination as a man while many women cite various forms of harassment and discrimination which you dismiss.
June 26, 2016
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What does being “more driven” have to do with videotaping a winners ass or speculating on a players sex life?

If this community applied half the logic that goes in to analyzing a bridge hand to responding to this issue I would not feel like I have been teleported to 1952 for much of this discussion.

I guess I should not be surprised at some of this discussion, it is consistent with Ida's original complaint. We have a long way to go. It will be hard.
June 26, 2016
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Sure, David got older and they stopped condescending to him. As I get better people are more respectful to me.

Eureka! If the women just got sex changes people would stop harassing them.

Why are we worried about all this sexism when there is such an obvious solution?
June 25, 2016
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Huge +1 to what Oren says.

Dismissing a small part of the overall issue identified as misunderstanding competitiveness misses the point. Trash talk and overconfidence have very little if anything to do with assuming that a male play with a female is getting sex or money in exchange for offering the gift of his superior skills, or focusing on the woman's appearance rather than accomplishment.

I find the assumption that a man must be getting money or sex from a woman to play with her particularly silly because I get coaching from a pro who happens to be female (and IMO is also the strongest player at our club, and a great teacher, both of which matter way more than her gender). Yes, I pay her money to teach me to play better bridge because see is obviously about a million times better than me and a good teacher.

While most people understand the student/teacher relationship, occasionally I am mistaken for her husband (also a top pro, whom I wouldn't describe as bearing any striking physical resemblance to me); my standard reply is “you obviously haven't seen me play bridge”.
June 25, 2016
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If watching the final (likely edited) video provided much evidence about where the camera and eyes were pointed during filming (perhaps of discarded segments) I would have more sympathy for your point of view, although I would still argue that since no specific charges are being brought and the issue is a general environment of discomfort I would still disagree.

Further while we might want to shame the filmer, Ida might not feel comfortable publicly naming them, nor should she be forced to if all she is alleging is a generally uncomfortable environment. She could easily face retaliation from someone in a position of influence and she might prefer to fire a shot across the bow without naming them. Should every post that complains about poor understanding of ethics around UI in club games have to name specific opponents?

I will let go of this issue now but I do feel strongly that the video should not be posted unless the subjects are comfortable with that.
June 25, 2016
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@Mike, to exaggerate a bit of an alleged sexual assault was caught on video should that video be posted so that the public can decide how bad it was?

In sexual harassment law what matters is that there is a hostile work environment. This is in the eye of the beholder (subject to some test of reasonableness). I think if Ida or others say they have an uncomfortable bridge environment due to inappropriate filming it is important that we begin by taking that at face value; even more so the investigation could increase the discomfort.
June 25, 2016
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Given that a presumed subject of the video was made uncomfortable by its filming, I think mass viewing as a way to address an environment of sexism is very poor solution. If there were a governing body looking to make disciplinary decisions they should have access to the videos. I think the rest of us have enough life experience to easily imagine a wandering camera and don't really need to know how extreme it was in any specific instance to understand the nature of her discomfort.
June 25, 2016
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