If you’re a man, I think it would be difficult to understand what the Women’s U.S. Soccer team signifies to many of us evolving feminists.
How could you?
For thousands of years it’s the men’s games that have attracted all of the attention. You may not have noticed us languishing in the background. Hell, I’m not sure even I knew I was languishing in the background.
Women’s team sporting events are viewed as second rate affairs. Different than respect for Serena or the occasional gymnast, Women’s team sports are laughed off, gauged as not as worth watching, jokes ensue.
There’s a bit more political correctness these days but no worries, fellas, we hear it. Taunts of “you play like a girl” get thrown around on the regular.
As women, we internalize all this to a point we don’t even realize it anymore. Sometimes it even – gasp! – comes from us. It’s like air. We don’t notice it.
Until……the stigma of “girlness” seems magically gone, and then we feel the rush of the weight being lifted.
The Women’s U.S. Soccer Team lifted the second class citizen feeling for us for a little while this summer, and it felt damn good.
We respected their stands on gender, politics, and LGBTQ rights. They are a group of women operating as an ultimate team and they happen to kick ass at soccer.
Many of us fell unabashedly in love with them.
And all the while we got a great view of some real live feminist issues at work.
It started with the first game against Thailand. The Women’s U.S. Soccer team tromped Thailand 13-0. Then, in celebration, they were drug through the press for showing no mercy. Standings are based on goal count. The rules are designed for a lack of mercy. The team therefore showed none. We aren’t used to that from women.
Alex Morgan was chastised for her tea sipping celebration after beating the England Team in the Semifinals. (It turned out to be a Sophie Turner (Sansa/Game of Thrones) reference, not a slap to the Brit’s love of tea.)
But let us not forget we rode Brandi Chastain into the ground for taking off her shirt to reveal her sports bra after the 1999 World Cup game against China. Seems we’re not used to celebratory exuberance from women. How could we be? We’re told to keep our emotions tamped down. Demure much?
Apparently – Sipping tea = bad. Grabbing your crotch = perfectly acceptable.
The Women’s U.S. Soccer team was called arrogant. Not confident like a reigning champion should be. Oh, that’s right. Men are confident. Women are arrogant. Men are leaders, women are bossy. Men are forceful, women are loud and pushy.
The world of soccer disrespected the sanctity of the women’s championship game by scheduling not one, but two other men’s championships on game day. To quote Megan Rapinoe, “This is the World Cup final. This is “cancel everything day”.
Or it would have been, if it had been the Men’s FIFA championship.
And we haven’t even mentioned that this winning, lovable team is currently suing their employer for gender discrimination. Seems these ladies only make .38 cents to the soccer playing man’s dollar. They win more, sell more tickets, are more profitable, and sell more jerseys than the men’s team. But yet, the women are not compensated like the men.
There go the ladies, causing trouble again.
Both sides have agreed to mediation after the tournament. But these women aren’t just fighting for their own bank accounts. The women’s soccer team is looking down the road. Fighting for the future. They are clear on that mission, and always have been as a team since the 1999 team we first fell in love with.
Right after the final game, fans showed they are listening to the team’s concerns and are behind them. Chants of “Equal Pay” (which oddly rhymes with USA) filled the French stadium. We can only hope that same fervor infiltrates the rest of the world.
I’m an American, so of course I’m happy we won the final. But my glee?
That was because it was women, and it was rare, and they were strong, and they are fighters, and they do not back down or play to gender stereotypes. I respect the hell out of them.
The Women’s U.S. Soccer team makes my gender pride go off the charts. (kind of like when Sally Yates testified remember?)
More of that please!
Learn more about the wage gap here.