As our host Dina Belenkaya announced during the last panel discussion on Gender Equality, ACP’s next stream was planned to be about sexism in chess.
The content material was ready, we planned for a date in June and then we encountered a problem that we never thought he would – we couldn’t assemble a guest list.
We contacted a lot of women, from former World Champions, elite players, streamers, strong Grandmasters, FIDE representatives and to our surprise discovered that only a few were willing to speak on the subject. Whether a coincidence or not, the vast majority of invited speakers declined our invitation.
This is very strange. What seems to be an extremely important topic, the one on harassment in the chess world, turns out to be a topic that not that many women are willing to speak out on. In the modern culture of #metoo movements chess appears to lag behind somewhat.
The year 2022 has been announced as the year of Women In Chess by FIDE. The single most important feature of the chess world should be safety, an environment where women feel safe. When given the chance to speak about their experiences, their vision of how it should be, of what should be done to reach that vision, an unexpected retreat into silence is not the way forward.
The reasons for this silence can be various and we won’t speculate on them: they are likely very personal. ACP still intends to organise a panel discussion on this topic, but for this to happen the women must come out and speak out. ACP will gladly give them the platform to openly discuss, criticize, suggest and build the desired safe environment.
We want more women in chess. Things have certainly improved for them, but from the infinite number of stories of harassment and sexism that a lot of women have experienced it is clear that there is a lot more that needs to be done.
Difficult topics are resolved by open dialogue and not by silence. It worked in the film industry, it can work in chess.
After a while we will start inviting guests again. We hope this time more will be willing to speak.