The United States Women's National Soccer Team has been a hot topic over the past couple of weeks. The team won the Women's World Cup on July 7, just four months after suing the U.S. Soccer Federation over gender discrimination.
In the lawsuit, the team alleges its parent organization pays the women's team less, gives them unequal playing conditions and does not promote their games as much as the men's team.
It's not like the men's team plays better or brings in more revenue, even though I've heard many people claim this is true over the past week or so. The men's team has never won the World Cup while the women's team has won four of those titles. The women's games have earned more revenue in total since they won the World Cup in 2015.
To be completely honest, I didn't know any of that information until a lively discussion at lunch last week. I realized I didn't have the facts to debate the topic, so I looked it up a novel concept to all those keyboard warriors on social media, I'm sure. My research also showed some articles about the women's team refusing to go to the White House if they won the World Cup. I suspect this, more than anything else, is the reason why people are talking about the team.
A few of my friends on social media have posted that the team doesn't deserve equal pay because of their behavior. That astounds me. You don't earn equality through behavior. Equality just is. Or, at least, it should be. Free speech is one of our most treasured rights, yet it's "disrespectful" when the women's soccer team exercises it? These are obvious gaps in logic. I can't believe so many people fail to see this.
During our lunchtime discussion, one of my companions mentioned that he's worked for many women who make more than him. I'll be honest: I have never experienced wage discrimination myself. I am incredibly lucky to work for a company that is fair and with a team that is respectful. But my personal experience is not indicative of what every woman goes through in America. It's not fair to assume that everyone is treated fairly because I am, and I refuse to do it.
Though wage discrimination hasn't been a problem for me, I have certainly seen sexism all around me. I'll never forget being called a "sweet little girl" when telling someone I was promoted to associate editor. I am a grown woman with a personality beyond what you see in my professional life but still feel the pressure to keep sweet. It's extremely frustrating. The worst part is I can't show my frustration without being called a certain five-letter word frequently assigned to women.
We're not just talking about equal pay for the women's soccer team a team that has earned more and still receives less. Those 28 women deserve to be paid the same as their male counterparts, but they're not the only ones in that boat. They're not the only ones to be treated less than because of their gender. Part of their lawsuit focuses on the men's team allegedly having better practice conditions. Does "separate but equal" ring a bell?
I'm sure this column will be unpopular in the community, but I can't be quiet about this. Nothing changes if we don't have a conversation. Someone has to start that conversation. Someone has to be uncomfortable in the search for equality. I'm happy to be that person, and I truly hope this column gives some of you a new perspective.
I like to think we're all in this together, but that's simply not true so long as inequality exists. The great thing is it doesn't have to be that way. We can change it if we stand together.
Do you stand with me?
Samantha Jones is associate editor of Carroll County Newspapers. Her email is Citizen.Editor.Eureka@gmail.com.