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Chess Reinforces The Traditional Family Roles. . And I Can Prove

December 16, 2022

Two days ago I suggested that chess is sexist, because of the king’s role.

Yesterday I suggested that chess is not sexist, but is instead, progressive, because of the queen’s power.

Today, I want to explain how chess, a game that has distinct roles for the male and female lead characters, is very much a metaphor for traditional gender roles in a relationship.

If I can digress from logic and instead quote scripture,

“Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.”
– 1 Corinthians 11:11

Many people consider many religious factions sexist. There’s never been a female pope, and in the Catholic church there cannot be. In my own denomination, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes called the Mormons) the leader of the church, is a man. The church hierarchy does not allow for a woman to be the promoted to the office of president.

American society recognizes same-sex marriages. And I’m okay with that. This post is not about heterosexual relationship at the expense of homosexual relationships. In fact, that dynamic is pretty limited. Those are not the only two choices. My sister adopted three children from foster care as a single woman. We also have widows and widowers. Polyamorous relationships. My cousin, a man is married to a trans man. I was at their wedding.

But I want to talk about  male/female relationships.

Chess is a great metaphor, not just because it represents a king and a queen, but the fact that they have such different roles. You couldn’t play the game with two kings, nor with two queens. The two most important pieces on the board are balanced.

Like a socket set.

Go with me on this one. I’m a backyard mechanic. I have a fairly nice socket set. There are all kinds of different sockets, 1/4″, 3/8th”, 1/2″, even 3/4″ drive. Short sockets. Long sockets. Impact sockets. Chrome sockets. Six point sockets. Twelve point sockets. I have a pretty good set of most of them.

I also have socket wrenches to match them. Here’s the thing, what good is a socket wrench? It’s important. It’s vital. You cannot do car repairs without it. Suppose I announced that my socket wrenches are all I need. I don’t need balance. You’d say I’m crazy. A socket wrench with no sockets is just a very poor hammer.

What about the other way? Suppose I just wanted to use my sockets, but I decided “I don’t need the wrench. The sockets are good enough for me!” Again, you’d say I was crazy. (Okay, you may say that anyway.)

The point is that a socket wrench and an actual socket are two very different tools. Both are vital. One cannot be used without the other. And neither is more important than the other.

They perfectly illustrate how the king and the queen in a chess game are different, but equally important. Likewise, my lovely wife and I have different roles in our home. Neither is more important. Both are vital. And we couldn’t do without both.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany III A Collection of Holiday Short Stories, an anthology including his latest short story, “You Can Call Me Dan” here

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