You may do anything you like on this day. We all can. However, the consequence of choosing self-agency is as individual as you are.
Many of us loved watching The Queen’s Gambit. Adapted from the 1983 novel of the same name, the mini-series struck a chord with the streaming-capable quarantined populace of 2020.. The was filled with iconic elements: the orphan, the orphanage, bonding with one person who changes your the course of your life, loneliness, addiction, genius, mother, finding one’s way in the world, and of course, chess. There is literally a hook for nearly everyone in this story.
When women act outside of proscribed roles, or even are perceived to be doing so, there can be hell to pay.
I was absolutely gobsmacked with the realization that gambits in the international chess world continue to profoundly alter lives in the chess world.
I woke up today to hear about the U.S. Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award.
The 21 awardees are heroic teachers, healers, peacemakers, and women who felt the need to do something that turned out to be quite courageous.
2021 IWOC Program Book
It turns out intrigue within the international chess world is quite real and can endanger your life. This is at least true for women who travel from countries that maintain their agency over individuals. Individuals who shatter expectations face being cut by flying shards.
Shohreh Bayat did not even know she had been cut by slivers of exploding expectations when her hijab was loose enough, at a an Asian chess championship where she was an arbiter, that someone snapped a pic of her which suggested that she was not wearing a hijab at all. Outrage and retribution awaited her in her home country because women face severe punishment if anything but their faces are uncovered in public.
In this 21st century it seems unfathomable to me that so many women continue to live under the lash of political systems that uphold the melding of governance and religious extremism.
Long story short, Iran can be a horrific place for women. Read more here.
Today Shohreh’s story is front and center because of being honored by the State Department for the courage shown in standing up to her government. She had to leave her county and her husband who did not have a UK passport to protect not only her agency but her very life.
When Shohreh Bayat boarded her flight on her way to the 2020 Women’s Chess World Championship, she had no idea she might be seeing her native Iran for the last time. Shohreh, the first female Category A international chess arbiter in Asia was photographed at the Championship without her hijab visible, which is compulsory in Iran. Within 24 hours, the Iranian Chess Federation – which Shohreh had previously led – refused to guarantee Shohreh’s safety if she returned to Iran without first apologizing. …From the U.S. Department of State
The report also lists a number of women recently assassinated for acting with agency.
We have so far to go. We cannot stop calling out injustice. There are those in our own government who repress women and hold back justice. Slipping into barbarism is possible. Individual actions are powerful, just look at what a chess arbiter managed to do for bringing awareness to unjust political and religious practices by acting with personal integrity when confronted by gross injustice through no wrong-doing of her own.