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Chess star Divya Deshmukh speaks up about the deep rooted misogyny in spectator sports

Chess star Divya Deshmukh pens a heartfelt post in which she describes the opposite reactions her gameplay garners in comparison to men.

Chess star Divya Deshmukh speaks up about the deep rooted misogyny in spectator sports
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | Engin Akyurt; Instagram | @divyachess

"Women, they have minds, and they have souls, as well as just hearts. And they have got ambition, and they have got talent, as well as just beauty." This monologue by Jo March in "Little Women" touched people's hearts when it played in the theatres. However, unfortunately, it still has not entered people's minds. Women are not spared misogyny and stereotyping even on the biggest of platforms, with millions of eyes turned towards them. It was evident in the heartfelt post shared by Divya Deshmukh about her experience in the recently conducted Tata Steel Chess Tournament. In her post on Instagram, she wrote about the kind of attention her matches got in place of meaningful feedback, which led to a larger conversation about the perception of women in sports in comparison to men.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Tima Miroshnichenko
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Tima Miroshnichenko

Deshmukh began the post by calling out how audiences treated her games compared to her male counterparts. "I got told and also noticed how women in chess are often just taken for granted by the spectators," she wrote. The chess player is pointing out the different mindsets with which the audience in the tournament perceived women's and men's matches. She added, "I played a few games which I felt were quite good. I got told by people how the audience was not even bothered." It felt as if critical analysis of games was preserved for male players, while for women, the only reaction the audience could muster was on their looks. She was not talking about professional commentators but the spectators who came to watch the match.


 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Divya Deshmukh (@divyachess)


 

The reaction was not because the games were less exciting, as many went down to the wire, but because of the blatant sexism that still operates when it comes to women in sports. The prevalent societal beliefs still associate a woman's value with her looks rather than her performance in sports. For Deshmukh, the focus was on her "clothes, hair, accent and every other irrelevant thing," which disappointed her, as she wanted people to see her as a chess player rather than comment on her appearance. She called for a change in this mindset.


 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Divya Deshmukh (@divyachess)


 

Deshmukh continued in her post, "When women play chess, they often overlook how good they are, the games they play and their strength." Their talent gets eclipsed and everything boils down to how they carry themselves. The same treatment is not meted out to the men by the audience. She did not find the same obsession with looks when opinions about a man's game were being taken from the viewers. Despite being undervalued by the sports world, they are held to a higher level of standards in comparison to their opposite gender. At the young age of 18, Deshmukh faced this misogyny front and center.

Image Source: Instagram/@palakshii.s
Image Source: Instagram | @palakshii.s
Image Source: Instagram/@zara.mov
Image Source: Instagram | @zara.mov

She ends the post with a plea to change this setup. People must grow up devoid of this stereotypical thinking so they can appreciate women's sports through the same lens as men. Personal values need to shift in a direction that is not sexist and equalitarian. More resources should be applied to increase the respect and legacy associated with the women's game. The comment section was touched by this heartfelt post.



 

@aryan.lmfaoo pointed out another similar incident of misogyny in sports, "The same happened with Wenjen Ju while she was with Magnus. She just had to stand there while others took her seat for photos. It's messed up." @nandychess was glad someone brought up this issue and commented, "I'm so happy and proud of you for bringing this up! As women in the sports field, we need to speak up for ourselves. Yes, we won't be heard, but if we don't, nothing will change ever and this applies to every aspect of life. So, thank you!"


 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Divya Deshmukh (@divyachess)


 


 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Divya Deshmukh (@divyachess)


 

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