The poker media has been set alight this week by some allegations made by a female player, Dr Jaclynn Moskow, and the way the poker world has responded has made me feel like the way we think about these kind of allegations is a long way from ideal.
Dr Moskow made a few allegations, but I’m only going to look at the sexual assault allegation; most principally because I stand strong in my opinion that people should be allowed to say what they want, be that sexist, racist or homophobic.
That gives me the freedom to say what I want back to them, and trust me, spout that bigoted shit near me, and you’ll know what ugly language sounds like (read here about my encounter with a racist).
I also want to clarify that I consider the alleged assault on Dr Moskow to be a “minor sexual assault”.
That is how it would most likely be defined under British law (a definition decided on a case by case basis, most probably by male Police and Crown Prosecution Lawyers- but that’s another issue). I barely know anything about UK law on the subject, let alone American Law.
Unpleasant as it is to have some sweaty guy you hardly know slap your arse, grab your tits or “motorboat” you (bleurgh shudder disgust) it is not comparable to the serious sexual assaults that happen to women all over the world in all industries and walks of life.
I prefer to use the term “quotidian sexual assault”, because this shit happens every single day.
Am I overstating it? No. In fact, that’s probably an understatement, it happens to most women more than once a day, especially those working in a male dominated environment like poker.
If you’re a man, and you think that’s unfair, deal with it. I promise you, your wives, daughters and sisters are getting physically slimed on all the time.
Remember, I said I’m not counting words here, just physicality. From standing uncomfortably close, to an unrequested snake of an arm creeping round our shoulders, to grabbing of hands, to fingers stroking our knees, to a slap on the arse, to a squeeze of a tit, to a deliberate brush of a penis on our bum as we’re standing idly- this is the world of women.
Sorry men, even if you’re not doing it, a lot of your kind are, and most of you don’t publically say a word. You watch it and laugh, or say it’s unacceptable to us in private, but then go for a pint with the guy later.
For the most part, I don’t even really mind it. I grew up in the theatre, around gay men, and they are always grabbing something; it’s less icky when the sexual intent is clearly absent, but I guess I just normalised it from a young age.
I’d be lying if I said this level of minor sexual assault traumatises me, I don’t think it’s worth reporting to the police, I can’t be bothered crying about it, cos nobody’s listening.
Is this how women should be thinking? Probably not. But we all have to play the hand we’re dealt and this is how I get on with it. Some of my favourite responses are:
“You’re a bit in my dance space there, buddy.”
“Don’t touch what you can’t afford.”
“Just cos your wife won’t let you touch her, doesn’t mean you can touch me.”
“Fucking fuck off, you skanky cunt.”
This is to the men I know/work with. I give them a chance to not do it a second time, and I’m pleased to say in most cases, they don’t.
The transgression is laughed off, and we all go back to our lives. He dodged a career ruining bullet and I saved myself the massive hassle and embarrassment of making an issue out of something that happens all the time.
I have been unlucky enough to be assaulted by a strange man twice in my life, both times an out and out aggressive grab of my breasts. The first one got a right hook to his ugly chin that floored him and the second a punch to the nuts that was so satisfying I almost felt it was a fair trade. As my fist hit his balls, in a crowded night club, I felt and heard the crunch; the noise he made as he dropped to the floor was actual music. Haha, fuck you, BUDDY.
Is this what women should be doing- handing out instant physical retribution? Again, probably not, but it’s my way of dealing with it. If you don’t like it, keep your hands to yourself.
Not all women are like me, thank fuck, and would not respond like this… so how should they respond?
Everyone’s got an opinion on how Dr Moskow should be responding to what she claims happened to her.
According to men and women, she should have come forward sooner, she should have gone to the police instead of social media, she should have got her boyfriend to kick the shit out of him. On and on with opinions on what she should do when she is sexually assaulted.
I say to women: In the face of an incident like this, do exactly what you want, do what you feel comfortable with, handle it how you like and don’t let any other human, of either gender, make you feel bad about it.
I feel very angry at people who are implicit or direct in the accusation that not instantly phoning the police means she’s a liar.
Let’s just take a moment to imagine that conversation:
“Hello. 999. What’s your emergency?”
“I’ve just been motorboated by a gross middle-aged guy.”
“What’s “motorboarding”? Have they stolen your vehicle?”
“No. He put his head between my breasts and shook it.”
“Oh. Are you physically injured?”
“No. It’s just made me feel worthless, powerless and cheap.”
“Oh. Well, leave your number and we’ll get back to you when we’ve solved all the murders. Thanks for calling.” *muffled laughter as they hang up*
I’m not going to discuss the validity of her claims, and I, sadly, don’t believe “the truth will out” like some people. The truth is a holy grail, and with any claim and counter-claim situation a giant void is created that swallows up the exact truth.
There’s no camera footage, there’s no proof, it’s word on word and the truth is a pipe-dream. That sounds very sad and cynical, doesn’t it? But it may explain why many women, physically uninjured by their assaults, just don’t bother.
I will say I personally believe Dr Moskow, not because she’s a woman and I have some deep need to side with anyone who has genitals shaped like mine, I really don’t.
I believe Dr Moskow because I’m a poker player and I exist on probabilities. Whilst there is definitely a non-zero percentage chance that Moskow is making this whole thing up, given the quotidian nature of minor sexual assaults on women perpetrated by men they know and work with, the odds are in her favour for it being true.
How harsh is that? Nolan Dalla, a Jesus like figure in the American Poker World may actually fall into the tiny category of men FALSELY accused of sexual assault.
Does that make me cry for him? No, and I’m not sorry for that.
Let’s get the world to a place where women aren’t the victims of minor sexual assaults ALL THE TIME, and then I might find some tears for the small number of men who are falsely accused.
If I had to, with a gun to my head, make a bet, I’d bet he did it.
I don’t know him, but the numbers are against him- sometimes men fall foul of the world we have created where women deal with this shit so often it has become the norm.
If you’re only starting to care about the issue of quotidian sexual assault because suddenly one of your idols has potentially been falsely accused, I promise you, whatever your gender, you are part of the problem.
Not that knowing him personally would make a difference. I’m gobsmacked by the amount of people of both genders who think “being a nice guy” or “doing a lot for poker” means he’s not going to commit minor sexual assault.
I can understand why one would inarguably stand by their husband, brother or son in a case like this, that’s what family means, but working with him, or as one 2+2 response stated “I met him in an elevator once and he didn’t seem like the kind of guy to do it” (seriously) is not a reason to call Moskow a liar.
A man can be brilliant at their work, a good friend, a good father and a nice guy 99.9% of the time and still commit sexual assault.
Over the last few years in the UK it’s transpired that every beloved media personality from the 1970s has been wrist-deep in children or drug raping women, despite having contributed a massive amount to charities and culture over a long period.
Shocking? Not really, because they are not related topics. Jimmy Saville never fingered a Boy Scout on the air any more than he took a dump, this in no way means he never did either.
To snap-call a side in an argument like this, unless one party is your family and unconditional support is order of the day, is short sighted.
If you’re reasonable, you’ll be supporting Moskow’s right to make the allegations and supporting Dalla’s right to refute them, and not getting too aggressive on either side’s defence unless you have some concrete evidence from the specific incident to contribute.
There is also a massive level of vitriol against Moskow along the lines of “even if he did it, she’s just using it now to make money”.
There is a very loud inner voice in me that says… so what? I’ve already said I think that women should deal with assault how they want to, why shouldn’t she try to get fame and notoriety from a situation she didn’t create?
I’ve stated how satisfying my response to being assaulted was for me. I wasn’t assaulted by a powerful man in my industry, just some unwashed scally in a nightclub. I had no chance to use the incident to catapult myself into any kind of limelight, but if I had, would I have taken it? Maybe, I really couldn’t say until it happens; just like none of us can say what we’d do in any specific situation until it happens.
Would it have been morally wrong to attempt to garner a positive outcome for myself following a sexual assault?
Punching that guy in the balls was a positive outcome for me, I cannot stress how fucking good it felt. I am primed for the next time, which I have no doubt will arrive at some point, so resigned am I to the reality of quotidian sexual assault.
If it happens, I will actually be left feeling pretty good about myself as I watch the cunt writhe about on the floor.
Moskow is obviously not such a violent bitch as me, because women are not all the same, OMG NEWS FLASH, but she deserves to feel better about her alleged assault, any which way she can and however she chooses.
If a powerful man creates that situation, perhaps he should go into it with the fear that the possible retribution is the loss of everything he’s worked for, damage to his personal and professional reputation and the woman involved becoming famous, or infamous, as a result.
Oh, he didn’t think about that at the time? Wah.
Oh, he hoped that he picked a victim who would just brush it off, cry privately to her friends about it and quietly die a little bit inside? Double fucking wah.
If you lasciviously touch another person’s body without their consent, you’re opening a can of sexual assault worms, one of which you might slip up on later.
Think on, fledgling motorboaters- you want to steal the pleasure of those tittays, you gamble with the outcome entirely at your victim’s discretion. Suck on that truth or keep your hands/face to yourself.
I’m also a bit disturbed by the constant repetition of the idea that there not being evidence of a man never having committed assault before means that he cannot have committed it this time.
It encourages a “one-bite-at-the-cherry” approach; everybody does something for the first time, usually the first time they do it!
I will admit that no other women coming forward with complaints about Dalla make him, if the allegations are true, seem like the unluckiest sexual assaulter in history. Not only is his victim making a noise about it, but he got busted on his first and only go, and that is an against the odds story right there! Somebody contact Disney to make the movie.
It has genuinely surprised me to see women saying that Moskow’s claims cannot be true because “a woman does not put aside incidents like this to protect her career”.
I expect that from men, and I think that’s because women minimise this issue with the men they are close to.
We don’t tell our dads, brothers or male partners about it because we’re nervous they will boot-off and take the power out of our hands. They’ll go to the Police “on our behalf”, or find the guy and smash his head in, or worst of all, somehow blame us: it happened because we looked a certain way, dressed a certain way, flirted with the man in question, somehow gave out “the wrong signals”.
Somewhere between absolute resignation to the truth of this sort of incident happening all the time, and an immediate practical need to support their families, women very often keep quiet about minor sexual assault because we don’t want to be “that girl”.
The girl that’s impossible to employ because she’s a man-hating, litigious maniac who can’t have her arse slapped and see the “funny” side of it.
Making allegations like Moskow has are most often as damaging to the career of the accuser as the accused… I thought all women knew this, and was sad to discover it’s not the case. Pained by my own naivety again.
Of course, there’s the insults to contend with too. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve seen Dr Moskow be called some highly derogatory names by Dalla supporters, and yet I can’t find one Moskow supporter who has said anything explicitly rude to Dalla.
For anyone who thinks that Moskow has found an “easy route” to fame and wealth, you need to think again: true or false, these allegations will cost her, in terms of her career and in terms of emotional stress. Accusing a powerful, much loved man is not an easy route to anything.
Many Dalla supporters are saying that because it seems Moskow has not been truthful about pitching a $100k figure as compensation, the rest of her story must be a lie: one part a lie, the whole a lie.
If that’s the case then what to make of Dalla saying he’s not sexist? He definitely is sexist, and I defend his right to be so (read this blog he wrote), but if he’s lying about that…
Can you see the danger of this flawed logic?
If you witness a quotidian sexual assault, address the perpetrator right then and there, not in defence of the victim, but in defence of your own offence that it happens.
If you think women are overreacting about what constitutes sexual assault, then imagine being touched gently and intimately, without your permission or desire, by a man you hardly know who is larger than you… liking that idea? Thought not.
Let’s make the poker world a place we want the women we love to be comfortable in, let’s make the poker world the exception- let’s use our energy in a more productive way than online trolling a woman who makes an allegation.
Noone will ever stand up and say “sexual assault is okay”, but the way we think about it when an allegation is made is fundamentally broken, and that ensures minor sexual assault will quietly remain the norm.
Quotidian sexual assault was no less of an issue the day before Dr Moskow made these allegations, and that’s the only truth we can all be 100% sure of.