Last year, a couple friends and I joined our school chess club. Right off the bat I got a few weird looks while walking in- probably because I made up 1/3 of the female population. The majority of my friends are guys, and they never accuse me of being somehow inferior because I’m a girl, so I didn’t think that this would be any different.
Boy, was I wrong. I could hardly play a game of chess without crude and misogynistic comments that I won’t repeat in polite company. Even a male teacher who watched over us once cut in and berated a boy who I had won against for “Not being a man” and “Losing to a girl wearing pink.” That struck a nerve. I’d won fair and square, and it had had nothing to do with my genitalia.
I thought about quitting. I went home that day and told my father, who was livid. After I convinced him it really wasn’t worth getting involved, he began mentoring me. I went back to chess club and played every boy who thought I couldn’t win, making a point to wear dresses (preferably pink) on days when we had chess.
The only match I ever lost was against a boy named Matt. Luckily, he was one of the few who never underestimated me for being a girl. In fact, he afterwards warned the other guys: “Don’t think she won’t beat you. She looks pretty and innocent, but she knows her chess. Never underestimate a girl.”
Then came time for our final tournament. I played my way to the top where I learned that I WAS the final match. I just had to wait for my opponent. Unsurprisingly, that opponent was Matt. This time I won. After becoming school champion, I never heard another word of “Girls can’t play chess.”
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