New Delhi, Jan 30: Indian chess star Divya Deshmukh has called out the issue of sexism and misogyny in the sport following her participation in the Tata Steel Chess Tournament in Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands.
The International Master finished 12th with a score of 4.5 out of 13 in the tournament that had players like Hans Niemann and Harika Dronavalli.
In her social media post on Sunday, Deshmukh expressed her disappointment at the way female players are often treated by spectators. She revealed that despite her strong performance and pride in her games, the focus of the audience was diverted to irrelevant aspects such as her clothes, hair, and accent.
"I have been wanting to address this for a while but was waiting for my tournament to be over. I got told and also myself noticed how women in chess are often just taken for granted by spectators," Divya wrote in her Instagram post.
"I played a few games which I felt were quite good and I was proud of them. I got told by people how the audience was not even bothered with the game but instead focused on every single possible thing in the world: my clothes, hair, accent, and every other irrelevant thing.
"I was quite upset to hear this and I think is the sad truth that people when women play chess they often overlook how good they actually are, the games they play and their strength. I was quite disappointed to see how everything was discussed about in my interviews (by the audience) except my games, very few people paid attention to it and it is quite a sad thing.
"I felt it was unfair in a way because if I go to any guy’s interview there would be way less judgment on a personal level, actual compliments about the game and the player. I feel women are underappreciated, and every irrelevant thing is focused on and hated on while guys would probably get away with the same things.”
Addressing the broader issue faced by women in the chess community, she called for equal respect, emphasizing that women should not be judged based on irrelevant criteria but rather acknowledged for their skills and achievements.
"I think women face this on a daily basis, and I’m barely 18. I have faced so much judgment, including hatred over the years for things that don’t even matter. I think women should start getting equal respect," Deshmukh concluded, shedding light on the need for a more inclusive and fair treatment of female chess players in the sport. (IANS)