What it's really like being a female chess player.

Mar 14, 2016, 6:29 AM |

Females that play chess are surrounded by an allure and mystery in the chess world. We are seen as a beautiful and tragic anomaly for the pleasure of the male gaze. A nice novelty that people can read about and think "That's nice. Feminism has come so far." The reality of being an actual woman who plays chess is far less poetic. 

As a woman, I deal with sexism almost every time I play chess. I have experienced sexism from relatively minor offenses that in some twisted way could be seen as a compliment, to serious sexual harassment. The day to day life of a female chess player is fraught with micro and macro agressions from male chess players. 

Naturally, I'm sure a few of my sweet readers will be skeptical of my claims. But one would only need to spend a few weeks checking my direct messages to see some of the ridiculous and lude things dudes feel like they can send to me, and they would clearly see the stuff I have to put up with. Or perhaps instead I should describe how a guy I played in a tournament once suggested that the only reason I won was because of my cleavage. Like for real? I've played hundreds of guys, and never once was I so overcome with sexual attraction that I wasn't able to focus on my game. Or maybe that's not serious enough. Maybe I need to talk about how a fellow chess player consistently would seek me out and make uncomfortable and unwanted sexual advances on me. 

Whatever the case may be, whatever evidence that the world needs to understand the prominence of sexism in the chess world, is beyond my understanding. Instead, I'd rather just call it like it is, and hope that talking about will in some way lead to change.