Parades are cool. Equal pay is cooler.
A float bearing this feminist message glided down Broadway yesterday, as the U.S. women’s soccer team celebrated their World Cup title in New York. After their historic 2-0 win over Netherlands in the World Cup Final on Sunday, the U.S. team used their ticker tape parade and celebration as a platform to continue their crusade against gender discrimination in soccer.
As thousands gathered in Manhattan to cheer on the world champions, the women leading the parade did not shy away from the recently politicized issue of unequal pay in soccer. The entire U.S. women’s soccer team filed a lawsuit against United States Soccer Federation on International Women’s Day in March, claiming institutionalized gender discrimination. And the confetti? Made from pages from their lawsuit -- because no celebration is complete without empowered women doing their thing.
While the U.S. team celebrated a record-setting fourth title as World Cup champions, half of all titles since the tournament began in 1991, the win was still bittersweet. Although the prize pool was doubled to $30 million for this year’s World Cup, the pot is still less than a tenth as large as the whopping $400 million prize pool for the Men’s World Cup. After the final whistle rang, declaring the U.S. team the champions, chants for equal pay erupted in the stadium. Pay inequality is a problem in both the domestic and international soccer circuits, with the U.S. men’s team to receive over $1 million each if they were to win. Each player on the U.S. women’s team will receive about $250,000. That’s 25 cents to every man’s dollar.
But the U.S. women’s team isn’t letting this outright sexism stop them from fighting for what they deserve. Megan Rapinoe, winner of the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player and the Golden Boot as the top scorer, took to the stage outside City Hall with an inspiring speech that went beyond sports, telling the crowd that “we have to love more and hate less.” Rapinoe has become an international superstar, not just for her incredible goals and iconic purple hair, but also for her unabashed stance in refusing to visit the White House after the team’s win, in a trip that she said would only give Trump a chance to “piggyback on their platform,” according to The New York Times.
Almost 16 million people in the U.S. tuned in to watch the World Cup Final on Sunday, a 20 percent increase from the Men’s World Cup Final last summer. Nike’s U.S. women’s jersey became the website’s top-selling soccer jersey ever before the U.S. won, with the new women’s jersey, featuring four stars for each title, selling out immediately after it became available on Monday. One of the most popular arguments against equal pay for women in soccer is that it doesn’t bring in as much revenue or viewership as men’s soccer, and besides this argument’s thinly veiled misogyny, it isn’t even true. While women, in all fields, deserve equal pay by the simple virtue of gender fucking equality, it’s nice to know that the U.S. women’s soccer team is totally capable of beating the patriarchy at its own game.
As Megan Rapinoe said, “I think we’re done with: Are we worth it? Should we have equal pay? Is the market the same?...We can’t do anything more, to impress more, to be better ambassadors, to take on more, to play better, to do anything. It’s time to move that conversation to the next step.” You’re right, Rapinoe. You already won one battle this year, and I have a feeling that with the 27 other incredible women leading the fight, you’ll win this one, too.
Top photo via ESPN
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Gracie Western is an editorial intern for BUST. She is currently an undergraduate, seeking a B.A. in Sociology and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. She may be the only person in the world whose unfixable computer virus is not from porn, but from illegally streaming the 2018 Winter Olympics.