top of page

The Queen's Gambit and feminism

Chess, but make it sexy

Currently maintaining its top position in ‘Netflix’s Top 10 List’, the Queen’s Gambit, a limited series tv show, is exceeding everybody’s expectations. The show is set between the 1950s and 1960s, depicting a society engrossed with the idea that women are inferior. The writers of the Queen’s Gambit do an exceptional job at depicting the sexism in a man’s world of what was known as a “man’s game”, chess.

Beth Harmon, the main character, uses chess as an escape from her troubled and uncertain childhood. Her upbringing was quite chaotic, making the game of chess a part of her life that she could control, it was something that had strict rules that needed to be followed, unlike her real life. Although at the beginning of her journey she was seen as a young teenage girl who didn’t know a lot about chess, she quickly became a prodigy in this field. Over the years she is increasingly gaining the respect of people that surround her, through her impressive skills. Nonetheless, newspapers interested in her story seem to only care about her gender, rather than her actual skill.

Feminism in the show

Although feminism is not the main purpose of the show, the very subtle indices prove to be a very effective method in showcasing it. With its subtleness, this show is actually more effective in showing what feminism means, according to me. With her unusual upbringing, Beth Harmon was raised by two strong women, and because of this, it is no surprise that she is raised thinking that her gender plays no role in what she decides to do with her future. In the most simple way, Beth Harmon wants to play chess, so she plays chess. Anything to do with her being a woman is simply irrelevant to her. She is naturally a feminist, a fact unusual in that time. She is not playing chess to beat men, she is playing chess to become the best chess player in the world. Nonetheless, her chess skills put her into a position of power in the media, sparking inspiration among other women in that time as depicted in the show.

The concept of feminism in my opinion, is a simple one; however, there is controversy associated with the term, with many people having different interpretations of it. To me, this show is the perfect representation of what feminism means. Why does gender have to play such a big role in what we do? More relevant to the Queen’s Gambit, why is it that Beth Harmon can't just play chess because she simply just wants to? Why does it have to be a conversation about her being a woman?

Real-life lessons

At the end, in my opinion, this show hosts a very important message that I would like to highlight, and it is that when you are skilled and passionate in a field, you have the possibility to succeed in life, independent of your gender, race, age, sexuality and other factors. Ultimately, this TV series is very impressive in its execution on a general note, and if you have not watched the series already, I strongly recommend you do!

bottom of page