How are you today? Time relentlessly rolls on…yesterday it seemed as though winter was still with us, but infact we are already well into spring. Monday will be the 1st of April, and we all know what that means. Summer can not be too far off…hey, that is something that I look forward to!
Coffee and Opinions
I fully respect the right of others to have views on coffee different from my own, but this does not mean that I believe that all such opinions are equal. One of the silliest arguments that I heard this week is from Suze Orman, financial expert and author of the best selling ‘Women and Money’.
I quote from CNBC:
“I wouldn’t buy a cup of coffee anywhere, ever — and I can afford it — because I would not insult myself by wasting money that way,” she tells CNBC Make It.
That’s because takeout coffee is a “want,” not a “need,” Orman says. Instead, that cash could be invested and put to work, she argues.
Not that Orman does not make perfect sense, financially. But what is silly about her opinion is that it is undermined by the use of subjective labels ( a ‘want’; a ‘need’). An argument should stand on its own merits.
I find that people who label things often have agendas of their own. Once we start putting labels on things, we risk spiralling down into dangerous territory. Then comes the temptation to label people. We can quickly find ourselves defending a world that is stripped of diversity and reduced to ‘black and white’.
It is neither black nor white.
As humans we can make choices, and that makes us more responsible and stronger. Some would say that the ability to make intelligent choices is what defines our species. Coffee is one of these choices.
What Orman does with her money is her choice. Nothing to do with black and white labels…perhaps the real insight here is that Orman ‘wants’ a million dollars more than she ‘needs’ a cup of coffee. Don’t we all?
No fool is going to give Orman (or any of her readers) a million dollars if she stops drinking coffee.
Is Chess Sexist?
Is chess sexist? Are you SERIOUS? Of course chess is sexist! This is a no-brainer. It fits the definition of sexism to the ‘t’.
We openly discriminate when it comes to gender: we have separate women’s tournaments, separate grandmaster titles, separate world championships and separate women’s prizes. And we do this regardless of whether the female is 6 years old or 99 years old.
More flagrantly, FIDE makes money from gender discrimination. The under-8,10,12 etc girls championships earn FIDE and its organizers hundreds of thousands of dollars/euros every year.
FIDE and its organizers evade admission of this open policy of discrimination. They like to sanitize or deny any hypocrisy by allowing any females who want to (and very few do), to participate in men’s tournaments.
In fact, they don’t even use the term ‘men’s tournaments’ much these days, preferring to use the gender-neutral ‘open’ tournaments. (It’s akin to the analogy ‘spokesperson’ and ‘spokeswoman’)
The only thing about women’s chess that FIDE does not discriminate about is the rating system.
How does FIDE justify being sexist?
We acknowledge that there is no fundamental difference when it comes to the brain of a women or that of a man. We KNOW that the top women players can compete on equal terms with the top men players.
Granted, Hou Yifan would stand no chance of defeating Magnus Carlsen in a match, but wouldn’t that be true of 99% of the top male players? If more women played chess, then there would be more Hou Yifan’s, and who knows, maybe one of them could one day beat a Magnus Carlsen.
I am not arguing that sexism is necessarily bad. On the contrary — sexist policy making — in chess is responsible for widely popularizing chess amongst the female population!
Many women players today are able to make a living out of playing chess, something that did not exist before. Admittedly, these women have to play against other women players to do so, but this is already progress!
When I first started to play chess in tournaments in Canada, almost 50 years ago, VERY few rated chess players were female. I think that the first time I played a female player in a tournament I had already been playing some ten to twelve years!
Hard to believe but true. Times have changed and today lots of females play the game.
FIDE has made great strides in encouraging more females to take up chess and to play tournament chess. But they have done this by the deliberate promotion of an artificial gender barrier: separate female tournaments, prizes and titles. Deliberately.
Classic discrimination along gender lines? Of course!
Let us not continue to play the role of hypocrite by denying that this policy is sexist! The chess community has become increasingly SEXIST in recent times, unashamedly so, and this issue should no longer be swept under the rug or ignored.
Ironically, this sexism is also almost entirely responsible for the recent boom in female chess participation. I am supportive of this initiative, but I felt the need the qualify myself.
CONCLUSION: Sexism is good for FIDE
A very interesting video that I only this week came across. I don’t agree with everything that is said here, but Jennifer Shahade and Tania Sachdev make a number of very important points:
- there is no real gender barrier in chess that should prevent men and women from playing together on equal terms
- that the sexism that we see in chess is no different from the sexism that we see in society as a whole
- at the professional level, women play against women ONLY because of the generous prize funds that FIDE and/or organizers provide (ie. systemic sexism, whereby FIDE promotes sexism by encouraging discrimination)
Do Blondes play better chess?
The traditional ‘Blondes vs Brunettes’ chess match has been held in Moscow since atleast 2012 as far as I know, but only this year’s edition has sparked any real interest on part of the chess community.
Obviously this ‘tradition’ is completely harmless and the organizers’ intent must fall under the general theme ‘promotion of chess’. But Victorija raised a point of order: is this politically correct, and should FIDE want to be associated with such an obviously frivolous and sexist-prank kind of event?
Clearly Viktorija should be praised to raise the issue of sexism in chess. Should FIDE passively allow its name to be associated with it?
Of course, imho, this might just be missing the ENTIRE point, as I tried to make clear above: FIDE is currently the most powerful promotor in trying to sex up chess! FIDE is responsible for this sexist mess…
Never the less, I present some of the interesting responses to Viktorija’s astute (if somewhat belated) observation.
All very justifiable arguments. If you want to read more, then HERE is the link. Enjoy!
I would like to leave my readers with one final thought. It is former Women’s World Champion Alexandra Kosteniuk who most impressed me with her input into this ‘controversy’:
Indeed, what does that say about women’s chess?