A top Midlands academic has launched a new campaign to break with centuries of tradition by renaming the nation’s chess pieces.
We asked Professor Shanice Longfellow, Chair of Militant Feminism at Shepshed University to explain her thinking.
PROFESSOR LONGFELLOW: The patriarchal nature of the underlying aggression at the heart of the game needs to be countered with some positive, feminine symbols. As it stands, chess is a monument to the masculine hegemony.
DAILY DISTRESS: Er, yes, we see. So what’s wrong with the current names? Let’s start with the ‘rook’.
LONGFELLOW: Well a rook, as you know, is a bird. Corvus frugilegus, I believe. Any way, ‘bird’ was for many years a derogatory word for a young woman, so just to be safe, we should rename it to a ‘castle’.
DISTRESS: We think you’ll find that ‘rook’ comes from an old Persian word for a chariot …
LONGFELLOW: Oh, I see! You know more about this because of your gender, I assume.
DISTRESS: No, no, just heard Susie Dent say it on Countdown, or something. No offence meant. How about bishops and knights?
LONGFELLOW: Those two are easy to resolve. The knight becomes a lady and the bishop becomes an Earth Priestess.
DISTRESS: At least you didn’t call the knight a ‘horsey’. And the pawns?
LONGFELLOW: Well pawn does sound awfully like porn. And porn is a awfully pejorative term to apply to empowered women controlling their own destiny in the sex industry. We really should rename them ‘sex workers’.
DISTRESS: Great so we’ve got castles, Earth Priestesses, sex workers and horsies sorted …
LONGFELLOW: I did not say ‘horsies’, you male moron.
DISTRESS: Sorry, I meant ‘ladies’, of course. Yes. As in the room that isn’t the gents. Can we just swap the king and queen and have done with it?
LONGFELLOW: Well, no, it seems highly inappropriate to use a potentially derogatory word like ‘queen’. It’s fine as self-identification but used by outsiders, it’s cultural appropriation at best. We would be better to call them something non-defining like LGBT allies.
DISTRESS: They’re queens as in queens! You know, Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth, The Queen, the other Elizabeth.
LONGFELLOW: You’re not paying attention. You silly, little man. It’s the word that’s the problem, not the meaning of it.
DISTRESS: Didn’t see that one coming. Thankfully, that just leaves us with the king …
LONGFELLOW: Well we simply call those queens.
DISTRESS: But you just said … No, no, forget it, it’s fine. You didn’t say anything. So that’s it then?
LONGFELLOW: No, it certainly isn’t. We have to address the equally important question of black and white pieces. There’s a massive discussion to be …
DISTRESS: Oh bugger! There’s my cab! Hours late! Got to go! See you! Bye!