Indian chess player Divya Deshmukh alleges sexism and misogyny: ‘I’m barely 18′

18-year-old Indian chess player Divya Deshmukh opened up about sexism and misogyny in the sport after the Tata Steel Masters chess tournament Wijk Aan Zee in the Netherlands. In an Instagram post, the teenage International Master talked about the treatment women chess players got during the tournament.

Indian chess player Divya Deshmukh(Divya Deshmukh Instagram)

“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,” said the player from Nagpur, who won the Asian women’s chess championship last year.

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“Most recent example of this on a personal level would be in this tournament, 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,” she wrote in an Instagram post on Sunday.

Deshmukh finished 12th in the Challengers section after going down to Leon Luke Mendonca in the 13th and final round with a score of 4.5. The complicated contest could have swung either way but Divya was the first to err as she went for a wrong capture in the middle game.

The teenager said while male players were getting their share of the spotlight purely for their game, the women were judged for aspects which had nothing to do with their ability on the chess board. “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,” she said.

“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 judgement on a personal level, actual compliments about the game and the player,” she asserted.

Despite the progress made in women’s sports in terms of pay scale, female athletes are still subjected to sexist behaviour and are often asked about their outfits.

Deshmukh said women players are under-appreciated in general and often endure hatred.

“…every irrelevant thing is focused on and hated on while guys would probably get away with the same things. I think women face this on a daily basis and I’m barely 18. I have faced so much judgement including hatred over the years for things that don’t even matter. I think women should start getting equal respect,” she said.

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