The Reasoning Behind What I Did!
When I was a young chess player, I consciously tried to look as plain and unattractive as possible. Most people never knew why. I never really talked about it. There were 2 main reasons:
1 – It is because I was tired of being sexually harassed and hit on constantly by male chess players.
I was often the only girl in all-men chess tournaments (In fact, FIDE severely punished me by taking away my world #1 ranking for choosing to play only against men at that time. I was the only woman in chess history to be severely punished for wanting to play and beat male chess players).
And the behavior of some of these male chess players was absolutely appalling. It sometimes became dangerous. Some male chess players cannot take NO for an answer, especially when they had too much to drink. Some tried to physically and sexually assault me.
I wanted to prove myself on the board. I could not care less what people think about how I looked. I was NOT there to “pick up” men. I was very thankful that my parents (especially my Mother) were always with me at tournaments to try to protect me. It is better today but still bad at times.
2 – We were so poor that we had no money for fancy clothes.
Now, I can just be me. So no, most men cannot understand what many girls/women have to endure in chess, especially back then. Sexism and discrimination in chess still exist today, just not as much. This is why I wrote this
Many girls/women need to be able to set their feet in chess before they can fly. I took this problem head on for decades, and suffered so many severe consequences, so that girls and women of this and future generations can have an open path to bigger heights if they choose to. I am still being blacklisted by many today for exposing the real and serious problems in the sport I love and devoted my entire life to.
Knowing what I had to go through, and the price I had to pay, I would still do it again. It is a fight worth taking on for countless girls and women out there around the world.