Chess star Divya Deshmukh alleges sexism in Chess

Indian chess sensation Divya Deshmukh, an 18-year-old International Master from Nagpur, recently spoke out against the sexist behavior she encountered from spectators at the Tata Steel Masters in Wijk Aan Zee, Netherlands. In a social media post, Deshmukh shed light on the unfortunate reality of how women players are often subjected to unnecessary scrutiny unrelated to their performance on the chessboard.

“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,” Deshmukh expressed.

During the tournament, Deshmukh faced comments focusing on her appearance rather than her game, as she pointed out in her Instagram post on Sunday: “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.”

Despite her notable achievements, including winning the Asian women’s chess championship last year, Deshmukh disclosed her disappointment with the disproportionate attention given to male players versus female players.

“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 lamented.

Deshmukh emphasized the disparity in media coverage, stating, “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.”

Despite advancements in women’s sports, the issue of sexist behavior persists. Deshmukh highlighted the underappreciation of women players and the unwarranted scrutiny they face: “…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.”

In her call for change, Deshmukh advocated for equal respect for women in chess and beyond, echoing the sentiments of many female athletes who continue to face these challenges in various sports.

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