If you read last week’s blog, you may remember I said that I had become “a bit obsessed with Cate Hall” and this week’s blog is going to reinforce that, because I’m going to bleat on about her again.
I’ve long been obsessed with Twitter, and Cate is quite active on there, so it’s easy to digitally stalk her and imagine she knows that I’m alive.
Cate played a 10k event as part of the WPT at the Bellagio in Vegas this week, she came 5th and peeled nearly $300k off the other competitors. BOOM! BINK! Well played, mate!
Final tabling such a prestigious event gave Cate the opportunity to take a stand on an issue that is important to her; she refused to be part of the final table promotional photography if that photography included the “Royal Flush Girls”.
I don’t want to put words in Cate’s mouth here, but I believe her reasoning is that she does not want to be part of what she perceives as a reiteration of the fallacy that women are just eye-candy in a man’s sport. By having prettified women present as promotional tools, the suggestion is that poker is only to be marketed to men, as women are most often the sexual object of men.
She does not want women to be used only as a sex-symbol within the sport that she loves; and that sounds very reasonable.
I would have thought that her presence, and that of another female player (Lauren Roberts) at the final table demonstrated that very effectively, but Cate is a strong minded person, and clearly a fan of strong statements, and she didn’t believe it was enough; that is her opinion, and her right.
Unfortunately, she doesn’t seem to notice that she is keeping the Royal Flush Girls as a symbol, most people would see it as a more noble cause, but I don’t think that’s the issue; the Royal Flush Girls are still women, and still being symbolically charged with the responsibility of somebody else’s purpose.
I’ve seen many Tweet opinions on Cate’s refusal to pose with the girls, opinions both for and against… I haven’t actually seen anyone, of either gender, ask what the Royal Flush Girls think about it.
Why would they? Either way, those good-looking girls are just somebody else’s symbol… right?
Doesn’t feel much like any sort of real progress in any important direction to me.
I perceive Cate to be fighting a battle against “other objectification”, rather than for any kind of women’s rights specifically.
However, by making women the obvious, and only, “other” in poker, women are deterred from entering the environment, and that is inarguably a bad thing.
I have not found a space where Cate has included women who identify as homosexual and may be actively attracted by this marketing move, nor one including men who identify as homosexual and are therefore excluded. I will have to assume she believes these numbers are too small within the poker world to be concerned with, or that she believes that this is “not her battle”.
Perhaps her main point is that by having attractive women as marketing tools, the ever pandered to heterosexual male is reigning dominant AGAIN and that’s getting on her tits. If you are not a heterosexual male, you’ve probably felt that pain too.
If you are a heterosexual male, then read to the end before you rear up against accusations of privilege.
I am a woman, and I disagree with Cate’s decision not to pose with the Royal Flush Girls; I think she is trying to make her statement about “other-objectification” on an archaic model, and I’m going to attempt to explain this.
Firstly, I want to make it clear that I DO NOT believe that she is jealous of these women’s physical attractiveness. This is the first argument a lot of men AND women go to when a woman dares to make any comment, in any format, on another woman.
She is not saying “these chicks make me feel ugly” she is saying “these chicks are proof I’m not the target demographic for growing this sport”; she’s prepared to put her neck on the line and risk massive unpopularity to prove to other women that they ARE the demographic for playing in this sport.
What I don’t think Cate is giving the Royal Flush Girls credit for is that they are not just “pretty girls”, these people work really hard to maintain their appearance.
They do this because it is their job.
Women should not have to be waxed, toned, glossy and made-up to go to work as a doctor, or a lawyer, or a cashier, or a waitress, because their job is to do whatever people in those professions do. (I’m a bum, I have no idea what people in proper jobs do.)
Promotional staff are hired to look good and attract punters. The Royal Flush Girls don’t roll out of bed looking like they do in the final table photos. They go to the gym, they eat well, drink water, go to bed early to get beauty sleep and get up early to do their hair and their make up. They have to, if they don’t look good, they get sacked.
OH HEAR THE FEMINISTS ROAR! “This is the point, Kat! Why should women do all those things to look good for anybody?”
I have two answers:
- Because they want to make money in that line of work. One may as well ask why a doctor has to stay up late to study new techniques in their field…
- It is no different for men working in the same industry. All male models are waxed, toned and deliberately stunning, they have to be, or they would also get sacked. Looking good is not a gender thing in the monetised industry of “other-objectification”.
Attacking the “other-objectification” industry with a view to shut it down is, in my opinion, a total waste of time.
We are a species with physical urges, and the majority of us love to perve on our sex-objects. Marketing moguls know that we will buy something that appears to be selling us our preferred “objects”, and that’s why both men and women selling us stuff on the telly are toned, tanned, shiny and filtered; they are consciously aspirational.
Also, let’s not pretend that women don’t objectify others.
I don’t want to rat on the sisterhood too hard, but I have been present at MANY entirely female conversations that have been explicitly sexual in the physical objectification of both men AND women.
Both homosocial groups bond over “other-objectification”, proving it to have a social purpose outside actually getting anyone laid or selling products, although it is pretty useful for that too.
Sexual/physical “other-objectification” is here to stay; it’s probably time we all just dealt with it.
Does this mean women have to be the only objects…? Oh, hell no.
I would like to campaign for the introduction of Royal Flush Boys, and a greater presence of male models in the marketing/promotional industry as a whole.
The poker industry could definitely be a leader in promoting this because of the overall egalitarian basic nature of the sport. Anyone can play: anyone with any tastes, from any background, and of any gender/sex, therefore, a range of objects can, and should, be present as marketing tools.
I think there are currently three principle limiting factors to this:
- the repression of people who have males as their sexual objects; women are not so public with their perving, and gay men can fear homosocial retribution in a mixed group.
- males are not allowed so much scope to become models without their masculinity being called into question; even now, in the 21stC, a young male who wants to keep his body sweet, his hair perfect and wear makeup to cover spots or make his eyes look sparkly will often be referred to as “a poof”, by both genders.
- Heterosexual men are cultured away from being comfortable with complimenting another man on his looks. If you are a hetero guy, when’s the last time you told your male mate “Damn, son, you look fine!” before you went on a night out?
I believe Cate should be making her point by questioning why there is not a wider range of objects included in the WPT (or other poker brand) promotional teams.
Some Feminists (and Masculinists) would argue that women (or men) should not be objects at all, and I would agree if we are talking about women (or men) going about their normal course of life. Shopping, eating dinner in a restaurant, walking the dog, working in a non-promotional capacity etc.
If you see a Royal Flush Girl in Sainsbos, with no make-up and her slouchy pants on, then she should not be oggled (applicable whether you are a straight guy or a gay girl).
If you see a Royal Flush Girl dressed up and photo-ready at work, then you should be able to oggle her, because she has given you permission.
That is her chosen job.
I think it is very insulting to these women to imply that they have somehow been press-ganged into the promotional industry. It is also insulting to assume that they have an easy job, and that they are nothing but a symbol for any cause.
Promotional models, of either sex/gender, have a real purpose in our modern world, and it is very unfair for those of us outside the industry to belittle that.
Cate is uncomfortable with the presence of these women, and I think that is a problem; she is, possibly unwittingly, reinforcing the archaic notion that someone else monetising their body is a bad thing, or should somehow be any more relevant to you than someone deciding to be a doctor.
I believe Cate’s stance is a tacit agreement with Western, heterosexual men who would complain about the presence of physically attractive males on the basis it makes them uncomfortable.
I think it is better that we say “tough shit boys, somebody wants to look at these male bodies, they are here, make yourself comfortable with it. All flavours are available at this ice-cream stand”.
We should all be making moves to become more comfortable with objectifying those who are professional objects, irrespective of our personal sexual attraction to them, and all wind our necks in a bit when it comes to objectifying those who have not given us their permission to do this.
I do not believe that Cate’s refusal to pose with the Royal Flush Girls supports this end, in fact, I think it directly damages it.
I don’t even believe it supports her own desired end, because surely the final result of her statement is a photograph that does not show a woman whom has played her way to that photo… and that’s what women who do not want to enter poker via the promotional industry will be looking for.
Equality is the future, but I am never a fan of repression, and to suggest that humans can repress their instincts towards the objectification of other humans is regressive and damaging, not only to poker, but to our society overall.
Anyway, that’s all a bit serious for Xmas, so I’m off to have a wank over some well presented porn stars of both sexes and then instantly forget their faces.
SEASON’S GREETINGS TO YOU ALL!