Feminist dilemma: Should I let my daughter be a chess champ in sparkly nails?
Contributed to The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Jul. 16 2014, 3:20 PM EDT
Last updated Wednesday, Jul. 16 2014, 3:25 PM EDT
My husband and I are driving to the pool for an early Saturday swim before the kids wake up.
“What are your plans for the rest of the day?” he asks.
“Almond milk cappuccino. Laundry. Manicure with Liberty.” Liberty is our eight-year-old daughter.
On about lap 3, I realize a manicure might be an ironic choice – because tomorrow, Liberty is playing in her first chess tournament.
“She is the only girl from our school going to the tournament,” the chess teacher said when he called. “Is that going to be a problem?”
“A problem for whom?” I asked, wondering if for some reason this could actually be a problem.
“A, uh, problem for Liberty. I just want to make sure that she knows that her friends won’t be there with her.”
Lib has been playing chess on Mondays at lunch through a school program. She tells me there are boys and girls in the class, though I’ve never asked her in what proportion.
It may be that there are only a couple of girls, and since only five or six kids are playing in the tournament it is for mathematical reasons that only one is a girl. Or it may be that there are plenty of girls in the program but they shy away from competition. Maybe they like to play chess at school, but when it comes to the auditorium of a local junior college they are, er, getting their nails done.
I reassured the teacher that Liberty knew she was the only one of her friends participating, and the only girl. She still wanted to go.
He had another concern. “Does Liberty know that all the other kids from our school are older than her?”
Oh. This sounded more serious. Since I wouldn’t know a pawn if it kinged me, I had to ask a few more questions.
“Will she be playing against kids her own age?” Yes.
“Will she be playing against kids at her level?” Yes.
Then I guess we’re fine.
The teacher’s uncertainty has me wondering. Should I be taking the gender issue more seriously? Should I be talking to my eight-year-old about female chess heroes?
Full article here.