Chess & Sexism
Excellent example of sexism in chess
Our english chess media rarely reports on the ugly side of sexism in chess, preferring instead to deflect focus away from critical underlying issues and to trivialize what is left.
Examples of this might include glamorizing Gibraltar’s ‘Battle of the Sexes’ or misrepresenting Hou Yifan’s complaint about sexually-biased pairings as a mere lack of knowledge about the pairing system’s intricacies.
Instead, the REAL fight for women’s rights in chess is taking place in the South American chess community, thousands of kilometres away from Europe. I have already written late last year about the fight for equal rights by the Paraguayan women’s team.
Then there is the fight of the Argentine women’s team for equal rights. Both struggles were successful, but involved a back lash by their respective federations.
The latest high profile story in the fight for equal rights in women’s chess involves the awarding of the winner’s trophy for the Copa MedChess organized by the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
In this tournament something really unexpected happened, the top 3 places went to women players(!), with 24-year old Amanda Karsburg Fontella winning on tiebreak.
The real scandal is what happened next, and which was widely reported in the media. First the tournament organization did not want to award the winner’s trophy to Fontella, instead they insisted on giving her the women’s trophy!
But Fontella refused and insisted on receiving the ‘absolute’ trophy (more often called the men’s trophy). There ensued some heated discussion.
In the end Fontella got her way, but in the awarding of the trophy the chief arbiter thanked all of the men participants for ‘letting the girls win’!
The real achievement of women players in South America in their struggle for the end of discrimination in chess is how they have been able to bring their fight to MSM and expose what traditionally is accepted as ‘normal’ behaviour in the male dominated chess community.
This is unheard of in Europe or North America, where women’s chess is represented too often as just a pretty face or inferior players deserving of ‘special’ treatment.
Have any of my readers seen any coverage of these stories mentioned above in the english chess media such as ChessBase or ChessCom? No, of course not! Why? Something to think about, isn’t it!
Things won’t change anytime soon unless the underlying issues of sexism and discrimination in chess are brought out into the open and discussed.