by Joan Goldstein

“Where’s the Queen?” I

ask Jack and

Sho, two boys in the Chinese

school playing

Chess intently, their rounded wooden

Pieces embossed with swirling characters in

Red or black.

“There is no Queen in Chinese Chess.” Jack

answers solemnly, politely.

“Then who is powerful? “ I persist, “certainly

Not the King.”

“No,” the boy of 12

thinks for a moment. “The horse – or later the castle-

not the King.”

“But why is there no Queen in

Chinese Chess?” I am bothered.

The woman in me needs to

know. Jack

Stops still, the wooden piece in his

Hand, poised hovering for a fatal move,

“Because a woman does not belong on

The battlefield.” He pronounces his English with care,


as if he were an old man,

wise and knowing – had he

heard these very words in Chinese

from his grandfather?

Was he translating as we spoke?

“Nor do men,” I think.

Joan Goldstein, Ph.D. is host and producer of “Back Story with Joan Goldstein” at Princeton TV30, and syndicated with MCTV 25/26. She is also a Professor of Sociology at Mercer County Community College, and leads the Talking Politics book discussion series at the Princeton Public Library.

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