Making the rounds on Facebook at the moment is a story about a 12 year old girl withdrawing from the Malaysian 2017 National Scholastic Chess Championship. This would be fairly unremarkable, except that the girl withdrew, she says, because her dress was in violation of the dress code. This too, would be fairly unremarkable (though many dress codes seem to exist solely to police women’s bodies), except the girl was told in the middle of the second round, and she alleges that¬†her dress was described as “seductive” and a “temptation” from a certain angle far, far away.
The dress in question is to the left.
Ultimately it was decided that the girl could continue to play the following day, but only if she were to purchase a pair of trousers. Unfortunately, she and her mother were told this at nearly 10pm, when shops were closed, and would not reopen before the 9am start the following morning. As such, the girl chose to withdraw from the tournament, feeling “harassed and humiliated.”
The Tournament Director denies having seen the dress or making those statements, and says an assistant arbiter, a woman, advised the girl to change clothes between the first and second round. When the girl didn’t change, the Chief Arbiter stepped in.
The incident is being looked into, on several fronts: by the Malaysian Chess Federation, as well as by the police and Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (due to the threats and harassment the Tournament Director received because of the original Facebook post).
Due to the conflicting accounts, it’s unclear as to what really happened. Regardless, it’s sad that a young girl and promising chess player she is the Kuala Lumpur district chess champion felt she needed to withdraw. Incidents like this one are far too common, and a major reason why women often stop¬†participating in male dominated arenas.
Social Media Manager
Girl Museum Inc.