‘We Have Remained Silent For Too Long’: Women Chess Players Denounce Sexist Behavior

'We Have Remained Silent For Too Long': Women Chess Players Denounce Sexist Behavior

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Warning: This article mentions instances of sexual abuse that may be triggering for readers.

A group of women chess players are fed up with sexist behavior and sexual violence in the chess world and decided to send a strong message in an open letter.

“We are convinced that this harassment and these assaults are still one of the main reasons why women and young girls, especially in their teens, stop playing chess,” the letter titled “We, women players” begins.

The open letter was first released with signatures by 14 of France’s top women players on Twitter/X on Wednesday and has over 270,000 views. It has now grown to more than 50 signatures from women in the chess community around the world.

“Faced with these acts of violence, we have remained silent for too long. However, staying silent means carrying the burden of shame alone. Finding the words and the courage to speak up may take time, but we believe it is necessary and healing,” the women write.

They encourage all female players to “denounce the violence they suffered.” The letter ends with a powerful message: “To anyone who has experienced sexist or sexual violence, we want to say: You are not alone. We believe you. We will be there for you.”

To anyone who has experienced sexist or sexual violence, we want to say: You are not alone. We believe you. We will be there for you.

The French Chess Federation has given the women “full support,” and says it stands “alongside victims and witnesses of gender-based and sexual violence.”

WFM Mathilde Choisy is one of the French co-writers of the letter and tells Chess.com that they want people to be more aware of the problem that exists with harassment and sexist behavior of women.

“We are used to hear and deal with stories told by girls or women, from basic sexism, to harassment, messages, abuses, rapes and we are fed up with this,” she says. “We just want to share that enough is enough.”

She has her own bad experiences as a chess player.

“Everything from stupid comments about how women are bad at chess and comments about my clothes while playing live with cameras.”

Choisy says the letter has drawn attention in France, such as an article in France’s biggest newspaper Le Monde.

“I don’t know if it will change anything, but things are not better when left unsaid. So at least people know now.”

FM Yosha Iglesias, another co-writer of the letter, changed her gender and came out as a woman in 2021. She detailed several instances of sexual harassment in a thread on Twitter/X.

In chess, a deputy mayor grabbed my butt in public during the official photo of the prize ceremony of a tournament that I had won. Last October, at an open, a random chess player asked me how much I charged for sex. I have received thousands of sexist and transphobic messages.

Among the players who signed the letter are nine-time British Women’s Champion and Chess.com commentator IM Jovanka Houska and two-time US Women’s Champion WGM Jennifer Shahade, who rocked the chess world earlier this year when she alleged that GM Alejandro Ramirez assaulted her twice.

The story grew even bigger when The Wall Street Journal published an explosive story on how eight women claimed that Ramirez used his status to make repeated, unwanted sexual advances toward them, some of them minors at the time of the alleged incidents.

The significance of women speaking out was shown when Ellen Carlsen, the sister of the former world champion, said that Shahade’s tweet led to her report an incident of harassment to the Norwegian Chess Federation.



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