Sexism in poker is the fault of the 15th Century Renaissance philosopher, Marsilio Ficino, who believed that sexual desire was an excellent educational tool.
I had a dry orgasm in my dream when I was nine years old. Until recently, when I quit, I had clamoured to get my calloused fingers and thumbs on any available pornography since the same age. I would get aroused by the lingerie section in Freeman catalogue, and perch perfectly in the chair so I could see down my mother’s friend’s top each time she bent down to take a sip from her PG Tips.
As I aged, I would have sex with anyone. Drinking copious amounts of alcohol helped in that regard. Pornography use moved on from sticky magazines to the Internet. I still remember the absurdity of a conversation in the pub with two friends arguing over which porn site was the best. I was sure that any porn site with thousands of free videos was the best.
It’s the poker industry that has flicked a switch of wonderment when it comes to my personal assessment of this behaviour. When I hear the word sexism, you don’t need to be Bill Chen to figure out that my entire life has consisted of women viewed as objects of sexual desire.
To me, my love for females extends way beyond pure fetishism and voyeurism, but I still can’t stop myself from ogling at every woman that walks down the street. To test this theory, I even decided to make an event of it and see how long I could last without staring at the beauty of the opposite sex. I failed miserably.
I am happily married. I love my wife more than anything in the world. You may read this and think I am disrespectful when I stare at other women. I have thought about that. I feel like it’s a biological urge. It’s animalistic. It’s nature. Sometimes I wish I was a starfish. Life would be so much easier. Fortunately, I think I now have someone to blame.
I have recently been watching The School of Life YouTube channel. If you haven’t checked them out, then you should. I recently learned of a philosopher from the Renaissance period who had a profound interest in educational theories. His name was Marsilio Ficino, and he was hired by the great Lorenzo de’ Medici to help educate the Italian city of Florence.
The pair got their heads together over a cup of PG Tips and decided that the best vehicle for their education would be art. Ficino had a theory that sexual desire was part of our biological makeup. He believed that our interest in things sprung up from our sexual desires supplanted themselves in love and eventually intellectual engagement. Considering that pure reason would not engage the people of Florence, but instead engagement would be enforced through their senses, the answer was simple. They would hire artists to paint a lot of naked ladies to titillate voyeurs into learning more about piety, virtue, modesty and devotion to scholarship.
It seems the idea stuck.
Fast forward to the poker industry and this is why we have Royal Flush Girls, and why female sponsored professional poker players are asked to appear in raunchy magazine shoots. Sex sells. Wait until Elon Musk invents the time machine and head back to the Renaissance period to talk to Ficino and Medici if you don’t believe me.
Unfortunately, we have forgotten our history. Sexual desire is normal. Used in the right manner, we could advertise sex to promote the highest noblest things in the world. Instead, we view this as shoddy, grubby and unethical. Instead, we only use sex to sell material things that rise from capitalism such as Boddingtons ale, wrist watches, and a game of cards.
Think about this.
When you walk into a poker room full of semi-naked women, it doesn’t feel right. And yet when we walk into The Louvre and gaze at painting after painting of naked women eating grapes while draped seductively on a chaise longue we consider it art.
Although, I have to be honest, I have stood in The Louvre and stared at those paintings, and I have also stared at the lingerie pages in the catalogue. Neither educates, and only one stimulates my senses. The only education I received was that bras cost a lot of money.