Yesterday, Ida Gronkvist posted a very powerful message about her perception of how women are treated in bridge on facebook. She gave me permission to repost it here:
"Dear fellow bridge players,
This is a message to the vast majority of men who think themselves superior to female bridge players (if they at all consider women to be bridge players). This is also a message to those of you who are convinced that you treat every bridge player as an individual but all female players happen to be individually worse players than you. I'm not going to debate with you about wether you are right or wrong in your analysis. However, I will say this:
Being a better bridge player does not by any means make you a better person. Bridge-playing qualities simply have nothing to do with your value as a human being. No matter how great a player you are it does not give you the right to pass judgements or behave towards other people as you prefer.
Please try to treat all female bridge players with the respect they deserve. Rest assure that we are here because of our love to the game just as much as you are. Rest assure that we too have dreams and aspirations with our game and goals that we want to achieve. Respect our minds. Respect our bodies. Respect our abilities.
Here are some examples for those of you who feel confused:- If you are making a video covering of a big international pairs tournament for women, do NOT make a three minute video about the handbags the participants have with them to the table.- If you want to make videos of female bridge players talking/comparing/hanging out at a bridge tournament, try to focus on their faces and what they are saying to each other and put LESS focus on their legs, behinds and breasts.- Remember in conversations that female bridge players too can talk about bridge and not only listen. They might even have played the same hands as you and have an interesting comment to contribute with!With just a little bit more consideration we could make the bridge world so much more pleasant for the non-majority who feel they have to defend their seriousness in competitive bridge in every possible situation.I assure you that it would make you better people at the same time.
Ida is one of the top young talents in the game, having already represented Sweden multiple times and won a national championship in the US. She is not the first woman I've heard talk about the sexism inherent in bridge (though she is the first I've seen discuss it so openly). What was also striking was how many women bridge players liked and supported her message.
Bridge has a problem. The culture of the game has a problem. When I first started playing bridge my mom stressed to me how sexist the world was, and to not follow my role models into that way of thinking. Of course I thought she was just a crazy mom! But when one of the best young players is posting letters like that, and being widely supported by other women, it is time to acknowledge a problem and change the culture. The game is already disproportionately represented at the top by men, and there might be many reasons for this but I think that sexist attitudes definitely contribute more than I thought it did.
Thanks Ida for starting this discussion, hopefully we men are listening!
Plus... it's free!