'Focus on my clothes, hair, not game': Chess player Divya Deshmukh alleges sexism

18-year-old Indian International Master Divya Deshmukh alleged she witnessed sexist behaviour from the crowd at Tata Steel Masters in Wijk Aan Zee, Netherlands. The teenager wrote a lengthy Instagram post, describing her experience.
'Focus on my clothes, hair, not game': Chess player Divya Deshmukh alleges sexism
Anjali Raj / Jaano Junction

Indian chess player Divya Deshmukh has alleged that she endured sexist behaviour from spectators at the recently-concluded Tata Steel Masters in Wijk Aan Zee, Netherlands, saying they ''focussed on irrelevant things like her hair, clothes and accent'' during the tournament.

The 18-year-old International Master from Nagpur, who won the Asian women's chess championship last year, shared a lengthy social media post calling out the misogyny that women players face routinely while elaborating on her unpleasant experience in Wijk Aan Zee.

''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 said.

"My 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 with a score of 4.5 at the Tata Steel Masters.


''I was quite upset to hear this and I think it is the sad truth that people when women play chess 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 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.

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'Focus on my clothes, hair, not game': Chess player Divya Deshmukh alleges sexism

''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 added.

Source: India Today

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