This piece is not going to dive into the he-said-she-said intricacies of the debate. It will not be an attempt to make men feel guilty for being men. As someone who has worked in the development of girls and boys, and within men's and women's football, across a broad range of cultures, classes, and countries, I believe I possess a pretty keen perspective. My studies and research into discrimination, particularly sexism within sport, have lead me to a conclusion, and I wish to bring you along into such a position.
In a completely fair world, people would be paid what they are worth. What someone is worth is entirely down to your own opinion. For an organisation like US Soccer, we might suggest that an athlete should be paid what they contribute. In that case, the men win hands down. The men's World Cup generates far more income for the Federation than the women's World Cup. To me, that's a very simplistic viewpoint. A person with this "real world" opinion of "them's the cold, hard facts" is only interested in the effect, and not the cause part of the equation. It's not the fault of Clint Dempsey or Jermaine Jones that they are better than Alex Morgan or Megan Rapinoe. They can't help having played in the top leagues of Europe, and being fantastic players. It's not their fault that thousands of people pay to watch them in person, and that millions do so from behind a television screen. And this article is in no way going to attempt to shame them for being who they are. Those of us that believe in equal pay are not looking at taking it away from the men, but instead raising what the women get in order to be equal.
Recently, amidst the ensuing battle within American politics, where debate takes place covering such important topics as how dangerous it is for a transgender person to use one bathroom or the other, the 40th consecutive straight white male to be nominated for the Republican Party is livid about how hard it is for straight white males in politics, and rednecks with guns shoot other rednecks on an almost daily occurrence, and so many stand around scratching their heads questioning how it could possibly have happened again, while none of these mass murderers will be labelled a terrorist, as that is a term reserved only for brown people, there has been another topic to emerge that has gripped the nation.
|Which one; JT or Karen Carney dresses like a woman?|
We could spend all day talking about what's wrong with American society. There's not enough time for it now. The issue I wish to talk about is the pay debate within the US Soccer Federation in regards to its male and female national teams. The men are paid substantially more than the women. Why is this? Is this the right way for it to be done? Why do people think what they think in regards to this issue?
A Straight White Male wrote: "Just search youtube for "The Degeneration of the Daily Show Sargon of Akkad". He shows all the facts on why the women get paid less. Its simple economics, nothing to do with sexism!"
Another Straight White Male wrote: "The amount of money you make should be directly correlated to the amount of money you bring in. Period"
SWM: "Sad to see a show with a history of rejecting dogma use it so foolheartedly. If you bring in less money in a completely different competition you deserve to be paid less. It's like complaining that movie actors are paid on average more than stage actors, or that comedians who tour the world make more than comedians who play the comedy night at the local pub. Of course they're paid less, and rightly so."
SWM: "It's called the free market you retards. Women soccer makes 1/100 the money of men's soccer thus the disparity in pay. What they're demanding is that men's soccer SUBSIDIZE their own. That's the OPPOSITE of what is fair."
SWM: "The men's team might be a bunch of scrubs when compared to the U S Women Soccer. But the world cup is an international contest. Internationally men's Soccer leagues make more money overall. It's a business."
SWM: ""generating more revenue".. You guys know it was a World Cup year in Women's Futbol, but not for Men's right? Of course they generated more revenue. Its only the biggest event in the entire sport. Its like saying the US Men's Swimming Team will get more revenue than the US Figure Skating team this year."
|Steph Houghton or Segio Aguero? Is Aguero dressing like a woman?|
SWM: "Stupid argument. Even with a staff full of writers he's way off base. The revenue and the fact that the women's professional soccer league crumbled is enough to show you they're not on the level of men's soccer. Equal pay in non sports related field? Absolutely. When it comes to major professional sports like soccer, no f**king way."
SWM: "The daily show is just going down! i used to love watching it but nowadays they are trying to get into some controversies that does make any sense! Trevor Noah you should know better since you came from a country that football ( and not soccer) is the main sport ! Dude, Men's football team is a big industry bro, it generates million and it doesn't make any sense you have players in your team that make millions in the clubs and go to the national team to earn a few bucks! its this type of news that destroys the all game! Football is a game of passion and we that love the game we love to watch the best games, see the top players performing at their maximum levels. we want to see quality and if women's soccer team its not getting the money that they need its cuz they are not at the that level! please dont try to destroy the game that i love! oh and Trevor one advise man stick to the actually news and not to controversy stories!"
|Careful girls. If you play football you may|
end up looking like Toni Duggan or Alex Morgan.
It's an apples-oranges comparison. The tale of the tape is that the last men's World Cup in Brazil generated half a billion dollars in advertising dollars, and nearly 5 billion in total revenue. That's something like 30 times the take generated by the women's tournament. And let's not also lose sight of the fact the women are actually paid a higher percentage of their revenue pie than are the men.
There simply is not the financial support for the women's team - or game - that would warrant this kind of escalation."
|Beyoncé is wrong. Men rule the world. Men make all the rules (particularly white ones). Men choose what is acceptable. Men tell us what to do.. Men tell women what to do about how to be a woman. Men design things with men in mind.|
|Women don't dress like Lisa Simpson any more.|
|Don't mistake a woman making a joke as a sign that sexism has been solved and that women across the world are now completely safe, can live without fear, and are treated equal in all arenas.|
|Can you imagine?|
It was at this point I stopped typing. I had every intention to finish this article, but became distracted, and forgot all about it. It was only until the other day that something sparked my memory once more, and made me pick up from where I left off.
|Alex Morgan has moved to Lyon.|
For me, I'm not really that bothered about the details of a contract. It should be fair. The women should get the same level of support. I'm not a businessman, so I will not attempt to try to understand the real intricacies of this deal. What I'm looking at is potential sexism, misogyny, how the world reacts to it, and why.
|Crystal Dunn has moved to Chelsea.|
|Remember that this has nothing to do with club salary.|
Men earn way more money from their club teams.
If we're going by equity, and judging it on quality and income produced, then yes, the men deserve more money, as the above Facebook comments expressed those sentiments. That reality should only exist in a world where men and women are treated equally in society. We're not yet at that stage, as many are sadly unaware. Reading those comments you see that some of those straight white males are so close, yet so far away. And when someone uses the wage discrepancy in pornography to justify the salary gap in women's football, one can hurt their brain trying to figure out how you would start to pick apart such an argument. "Porn is just inherently sexist... male consumers... is it abuse?... It's more likely to objectify than empower... unlike sport... degrading... opportunities and talent..." It would be pointless anyway as such a comment displays a mentality that is so devastatingly misguided.
If a men's national team lost to a club U15s, there would be a media meltdown. The world would probably stop. Not even Keanu Reeves could get it turning again. But that's not the point, is it? A group of boys versus a group of men would have all had the same advantages leading up to the top. I have used this graphic in another recent article, but it's worth sharing again because it's so apt.
The opportunities that Richard gets ahead of Paula can be explained in football terms.
Explaining privilege to someone that doesn't feel privileged.
At the risk of being a patronising manspaliner, I had this verified by female players. It's not an exact fit for every player, but there are many recurring themes that are familiar to many female players, whether it happened to them or a teammate. The picture cuts out at age seventeen, which is kind of fitting. I did include an eighteen, which for the boys, it was the chance to begin playing in front of crowds. For the girls, they had to choose between playing at a decent level or going to university instead.
Guy mansplains to an astronaut.
It's a little different for American girls. This table was based upon the English experience. Girls in the US are pushed into soccer a bit more than other countries. A large incentive is that it is a way to get into university on a scholarship. Where some English girls have to choose between one or the other, the American girls can easily have both. It's one of the main contributing factors to why their national team has been so successful, and why the country has done far better on the women's side than on the men's.
|"She was a right bitch! Must have been a lesbian."|
There definitely exists a double standard into what is expected of men and women in the same situation. People perpetuate that without even realising the damage that they are doing. And within this, there are plenty more issues which we need to discuss. Each issue is symptomatic of the larger problem. We'll begin with mansplaining. I will use plenty of memes for communication, as pictures can say a thousand words, and these pictures are just too good.
|Mansplaining is frequent on the internet.|
|As if being a woman wasn't bad enough.|
|The anti-feminist rhetoric. It's only a bit of harmless nonsense.|
|Remember The Fappening? All those celebrities had their nude pictures hacked.|
Plenty of men and women both said "Well then, don't take any nude photos."
|I get it. This is wrong and disturbing. If a man said this, he would be shunned. Women are perves too. Does that mean we've solved sexism?|
|Let's throw hands. COME AT ME BRO!!!|
|What an aggressive and unpleasant woman.|
|I get it, and I can see this in real life. Some women are like this.|
Again, that doesn't mean that sexism doesn't exist.
|Think of this next time you see a middle-aged couple.|
|Of course it was her fault. How could she not expect to have been raped? |
You know? Just being there, wearing clothes, being a woman.
She was asking for it!
A female Dr. Who would get paid at least 10% less while travelling through time in high heels.There's no way that it's possible for male viewers to accept an ageless, shape shifting, time traveller, that fights aliens shaped like dustbins with telescopes, being female.
|And don't play football.|
|It's only banter. Can't you take a joke?|
|Perfect! "A culture that devalues non-men."|
|Another double standard that has some truth.|
But the bloke wouldn't be called a lesbian for playing football.
He'd also be paid at least 10% more.
And wouldn't have to wear high heels to work. <<----- STILL A THING IN 2017!!!
And doesn't have the fear of being raped in the back of his mind.
|BECAUSE EVEN THOUGH WE'RE ALL EQUAL|
WE'RE NOT ALL EQUAL YET!!!!!
Women can be horrible to men, which doesn't mean sexism doesn't exist, and doesn't mean that the deck isn't stacked against women. Sexism isn't exclusive to just one gender. There are plenty of examples of double standards, people being hypocrites, prejudice, stereotypes etc. that come from all along the gender spectrum. Women can be horrible to men. The fact some can't see that doesn't mean that the reality is not there. But just because some men are horrible to women, and some women are horrible to men, doesn't mean that overall, it's all equal. Despite women sexists, it still remains true that society is heavily skewed in favour of men. Just because you've been falsely accused of manspalining, held to high beauty regards, or seen a female only bursary or scholarship and thought it was unfair, doesn't mean that there is such a thing as false equality, reverse sexism, or any other such nonsense. The world, and it differs from culture to culture, is makes it far more difficult to be a woman. Women driving alone at night are allowed to skip red lights in Mexico. That's a frightening law. It's not the same as "Well there's some parts of town you should just avoid because you could get beaten up or mugged" loss of possessions or assault is nothing compared to the threat of being raped. As men, we don't face that as a daily fear. And because so many of us find it hard to relate to that, we don't understand why it's such an issue for many women, and so like to mansplain to them about how tough it is to be a bloke these days.
|You won't find many to have won trophies with both Southampton and Portsmouth. Always coaching dressed like a woman.|
It is difficult being a man, you know? Despite so many advantages growing up, of which I am blind to, I now see women get the occasional advantage, and lack the cognitive processing skills to comprehend why, and the emotional skills to handle myself and be more sympathetic to their cause.
The difference between sexism and unpleasantness, like bullying and banter, is the balance of power.
What state must women's football be in if the world's best can lose to a U15s team from MLS? That says more about the advantages that males get over females, than it does about females being inferior football players. If Dallas U15 can defeat the US Women, think of how badly the deck is stacked against girls, and how much more boys get given to them at every step of the way. Some try to dismiss it as just a friendly, but this kind of thing has happened before, both in the US and in Australia. A side as competitive and driven as the USWNT would not want to lose any game, even a friendly, and especially not a scrimmage against kids. Friendlies are not truly accurate representations of a team's power... to a point. We get rotation of playing time, trying different systems, and attempting not to get injured. But if friendlies don't mean anything, then why do we have a national enquiry every time England lose one? It would be the equivalent of England losing to Andorra. How would we react if England lost to Chelsea U23, or Arsenal U18, or Man Utd U15? So there clearly is a problem that has lead to the women at the top level being that far behind a boys academy team.
|In some cases, it's not even that boys get better access or opportunities, it's that' girls don't get them at all.|
|Carli Lloyd has moved to Man City.|
And then... AND THEN!!! As I'm applying the finishing touches to this article (as sexism is timeless, right?) the news emerges that WSL 1 team Notts County Ladies have had to fold. This is two days before the first game of the season against Arsenal. It was just two years ago that I was rushing through the M3 traffic to get to Wembley to watch the 2015 FA Cup final that featured Notts County as they lost 1-0 to Chelsea. The team has four England players that have been selected for this summer's Euro 2017 Championship. They'll be okay as they are on central contracts with the FA for £20,000 per year (still a shocking blow to find out you've been sacked via Twitter), but spare a thought for the other players on the team without any income. Think of those that gave up their other jobs to be able to focus on playing in the WSL for Notts County.
|To be fair...|
I have used this example a lot in the past, as it made up the evidence in my university dissertation, when TalkSport presenter Adrian Durham was livid that the FA announced funding (I think four million) for the growth of the women's game in England. "I'm not being funny, but..." began the rhetoric, as he stated that no one cares about women's football, and that money could be used to train young boys in the hope of winning a World Cup for England. Isn't that chapter one of the Bigot's Guidebook?
Step 1: "I'm not being funny, but..." Immediately remove the possibility of criticism. Also seen in the form of "No offence, but..." and "I'm not being racist, but..." Such statements can be met by the words "What the Hell does it have to do with you?" entering the mind of the listener.
|BUT I WANT MY ADVANTAGES!!!|
Step 3: "That money could be better spent on helping our young boys win a World Cup." Compound your sentiment with a nationalistic desire, that demonstrates you've only got our [or a certain group] interests at heart. You're not a bigot if you're rooted in love. Other examples include; "Britain first", "Make America Great Again", "Let's fund our NHS instead" or my personal favourite "At the end of the day, it's all about getting kids off their Xboxes, out there, playing football, on a Sunday."
One can quite easily justify their bigotry. It's so simple, as it mainly comes from an oversimplified misrepresentation. Let's give it a try. Here goes; "I'm not being funny, but transgenders shouldn't be using the wrong bathroom. They're all sick in the head and probably just want to spy on young kids using the toilet. I'm only thinking about the damage this could have on the upbringing of our children, because at the end of the day, if they can't use public bathrooms without fear of being looked at by a man in a dress, they we won't be able to get them off their Xboxes, out there, playing football, on a Sunday."
|It's a man's game. When will women accept that?|
This is pretty fun. Let's try one more. See if we can use the above rules to create some cognitive dissonance; "I'm not being racist, but these Muslims must have something wrong with their DNA to keep blowing each other up." This then forks into two paths; "We should just let them get on with it as they'll eventually all kill each other. Let's fund our NHS instead." OR "We should go in there and sort them all out before they come over here and impose Shania Twain Law. We've got to put Britain and British values first."
There may be some readers that actually subscribe to this way of thought, and some of whom may be angry that I have oversimplified and misrepresented their thought process. Fancy that! How dare someone that doesn't understand your situation try and explain how you came to process available information from your perspective that lead you to come to your own conclusions. You should be allowed to be bigoted without everyone expecting an explanation and a justification. It's not right!
My sincere apologies for a piece that is meme heavy. Frankly, I don't care. There's so much to get through in one article, and it feels like we're fighting discrimination in football on too many fronts. And no matter what we do in football, it has makes such a small dent in society, that it hardly seems worth it. BUT WHO CARES ABOUT WOMEN'S SPORTS... AMIRITE???
I've circled around the issue a lot. My main point is that the US could do what's right and be a shining light, a beacon for equality. If we go down the route of equity, women will keep getting what they deserve, and will take centuries, if ever, for them to achieve the same status as men. If we go down the route of equality, we can give women what they deserve in the form of equal treatment, opportunities, and reward, so that they are elevated to the same status as men. One can make an argument either way, but if you're going to suggest that whatever your views are, you interests have football at heart, just remember that when women are allowed in, when work forces are diversified, you have more ideas, more skill, more talent, more hands on deck, as well as new and different perspectives from people that have fought tooth and nail to be where they are. The world should not be like the Harry Enfield sketch. Women have opinions that should be heard (almost like they are real people), and they should be encouraged to give, refine, and challenge opinions, just like men. Imagine how great the world would be if we could have twice as much football to watch because the women's game became as good as the men's. Imagine how good football would be if we doubled the workforce and increased the competitiveness by encouraging girls to learn about the game, and pursue careers in coaching, psychology, strength and conditioning, analysis etc. The only acceptable jobs at the moment are physio, masseur, and tea lady.
Apparently boys want to be coached by a guy.
Just look at the case of Helena Costa - Mourinho in a skirt. Questioned long before she even took a training session, many men cast doubt on her ability to handle a dressing room full of half-naked men. Let's be real here. Men stand around completely naked in the changing room for quite long. They stand in the middle of the room, drying themselves, talking to others without shame. When my Surrey team won the league, there was a big naked cuddle in the middle of the changing room. I won't share the video. You just have to go on Twitter to see the half naked teams celebrating together. Unless these photos have been edited to only be seen by men (isn't this homo-erotic?), I really don't think they have a problem with anyone seeing. What they were inferring is that this poor damsel in distress would be so overcome with lust and desire upon seeing all those abs, quads, and bums, that she'd shake violently from multiple orgasms, and would be unable to do her job. That's also ridiculous. Who orgasms at the sight of a half naked body? Perhaps those making angry comments on internet messageboards.
Here are some things that need explaining for those who have never been in such a situation;
- When coaching a group of the opposite sex, you don't sit there and watch them get changed.
- Being in the room with them as they get changed is not something you need to do. When giving them tactical instructions, you want them sat down, changed and paying attention.
- Players can (and should) get changed unsupervised, as they need time get themselves into The Zone.
- There will be some that you find physically attractive. Just like if you go to any place of work.
- Just because one of them might be good looking, doesn't mean you fancy them. And if there is one you fancy, it doesn't mean you would lack the self-control necessary to be able to coach them effectively.
- Occasionally there are players that fancy the coach. Again, respect and self-control reign supreme. If you're acting like Pepe le Pew around ANYONE, you should have sought help a long time ago.
- After a while, players begin to become comfortable around their coach. They might be okay to be seen in their underwear. Just because they are in a state of undress, doesn't mean that either the coach or the player is viewing the situation as sexualised. Much like going to the beach or swimming pool. Most people can handle themselves around all the exposed skin, and view the situation as anything different to what it actually is.
My protocol is always a loud knock, and then a question of if it's okay to come in. It's that simple. If I couldn't handle myself in these situations, I wouldn't be allowed in these situations. Clubs would get rid of me pretty quickly. The same with EVERY MALE COACH TO COACH A FEMALE TEAM EVER. But because this is a woman in the men's game, the standards are different. No one has ever questioned my ability to focus because I might want to bang my players. No one has ever questioned the ability of my players because they might want to bang me. It's absurd. Some players become comfortable around their coach, yet there is still respect. While talking to one before or after the game, a female player may decide that she needs to take her top off or change her shorts. What she does is either goes around a corner so that I can't see, or stands behind me so she's out of my field of vision. Some simply turn their back as to simply conceal the goods. She trusts that I won't turn around or sneak a peak. She might also think that perhaps I don't want to see another human naked. It's as simple as that. The conversation continues. No one sexually violates anyone. Everyone is thinking about only football.
Weirdos. What a truly warped understanding of the world these people must have.
If you enjoyed this article, check through my previous articles on sexism in football, and intrinsic motivation of young female players.
And remember girls, always dress like a woman.
|Just wear trainers. Seriously. So much of your health comes from the feet.|