This isn’t going to be long because the episode is still in progress. A new season of Doctor Who is upon us! Jodie Whittaker has become the first woman in the role and so far she is an absolute delight. Why is this so important to me? Because finally someone who looks like me is playing an iconic and heroic character. I’m excited for every little girl who’s going to see herself in The Doctor and make her own cardboard Sonic Screwdriver and pretend to save the universe in her own backyard.
I know this topic has been done to death and I thought briefly of not adding my voice to this conversation, but all I can think about is my niece, my nephew, and my friends’ kids and it’s for them that I’m opening my big mouth. Several articles have come out saying that “Grace” and by extension all women was just being oversensitive and claiming she should have left if she was so uncomfortable. Several articles have cited the fact that women have been socialized to “let him down easy,” and actual statistics on intimate partner violence to explain her actions. I’m not comparing Aziz Ansari to predators like Harvey Weinstein or Larry Nassar. Ansari ins’t a predator and doesn’t deserve to lose his career. He is however a product of our deeply broken culture around dating and intimacy. When a young woman can get shot to death for asking a guy to please stop grinding on her we have a serious problem.
Now enough of the negatives of this story, because I want to talk about the positives. The silver lining here is that in homes and offices across the country a conversation has started between men and women about what is acceptable behavior and what isn’t. By opening a dialogue we can make this a teachable moment for everyone. I’ve actually had a few opportunities to educate men about male privilege and make them aware that there are simple things they take for granted, like crossing a dark parking lot alone or telling someone to take their hands off you, that they can do that women simply can’t without a certain level of risk. It was rough and there was a lot of mansplaining, but miraculously I maintained my patience long enough to explain why they should care if they make someone uncomfortable.
Maybe from here we can move forward to a better culture around dating and intimacy. And also if we can go ahead and do this quickly before my friends’ kids go to college and my niece and nephew reach dating age, that’d be great! Because so help me if anyone behaves the way that Aziz Ansari did towards any one of them, you’re going to see me on the news and my nephew is going to learn how to be a kind, considerate young man or his aunt is going to be after him. Let’s be better, everyone. Let’s as Bill and Ted said be excellent to each other.
During my recent performance, I did a joke about creeps. I asked the ladies in the audience how many of them have had an experience with a creepy guy, you know the kind of guy that doesn’t know when to leave a woman alone. Nearly every woman in the audience clapped or raised her hand. If you’re looking for a percentage I would conservatively estimate 98% of the female audience members had an experience with a creeper. That’s just sad.
If you read the news today, it looks like practically every man in the media and the entertainment industry has been accused of sexual harassment. Now as comedians, we have a certain responsibility to make timely jokes about what’s in the news. However we also still have a responsibility to our audience, that being to make them laugh. So, fellow comics while I get that you may feel compelled to make jokes about how so many men are being accused of sexual harassment, let’s not forget that sexual harassment is not funny to people who have experienced it.
Think about my audience from a few weeks back. Nearly every one of the women in that audience experienced unwanted attention from a creepy guy. That’s pretty much the definition of sexual harassment. Now think about all of the #MeToo stories you’re reading in your social media news feeds from the female members of your social media circle. I have multiple #MeToo stories of my own. So, be mindful that there’s a pretty good chance that most of your female audience members aren’t going to think your timely joke about sexual harassment is funny. You’re also perpetuating the problem by making victims feel uncomfortable and, yes guys that’s why we don’t come forward right away if we ever come forward at all.
Women will continue to come forward. We all decided during one our super-secret underground meetings that we have all had enough. The women who came out against Harvey Weinstein, Lou C.K., Matt Lauer, and others have emboldened the rest of us to stop being nice about it when we’re harassed; you know much like a known sexual predator being elected president has emboldened all of you to openly harass women. If you’re feeling defensive, I’m probably talking to you. Continuing this behavior may result in direct harm to your testicles. You’ve been warned.
There seems to be a stigma about female stand-up comedians and women in comedy in general. Apparently there are some people who seem to think that women can’t be funny. To them I say SAY WHAT?!
Uhhh Gilda Radner, Bea Arthur, Jan Hooks, Paula Poundstone, Lisa Lampanelli, Tammy Pescatelli, Maria Bamford, Madeline Kahn, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, Ellen DeGeneres, Kate McKinnon, Ana Gasteyer, Molly Shannon, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Jane Krakowski, Jane Curtin, Maya Rudolph, Kristen Wiig, Janeane Garofalo, Laura Kightlinger, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Cheri Oteri, Betty freakin’ White, and that’s just off the to top of my head.
It’s 2017. Women can be funny. What am I doing outside the kitchen? Being funnier than you. Come at me.
Okay I can’t be the only one who’s noticed that there weren’t very many ads for the Wonder Woman movie until about six weeks before the premiere date. That’s odd right?
Could it be because the idea for a Wonder Woman movie met with resistance from the folks at DC because they felt that they could not make a profitable movie from the Wonder Woman comic franchise? I know, I think it sounds crazy, too. Marvel made Guardians of the Galaxy. The original grossed $773.3 million and Vol. 2 grossed $145 million during its opening weekend. So just to review over $900 million has been made on a movie featuring an anthropomorphic, genetically engineered, cybernetic raccoon and a talking, infantilized tree (Baby Groot is life!). But oh no, DC please continue to tell me how a Wonder Woman movie couldn’t possibly be profitable.
Is it sexism? Joss Whedon was once asked to work on the Wonder Woman comic for a particular story arc, but he turned it down because folks at DC wanted to portray Wonder Woman as a bumbling damsel in distress. I guess they weren’t aware that Joss Whedon is also the guy who made Buffy. Someone didn’t do their research. Then again, this is the same publisher who edited out Batwoman’s same sex wedding due to what I can only assume to be lack of intestinal fortitude. However sexism claim is shaky at best.
Is it poor logic? Some people seem to follow antiquated logic when it comes to female comic book characters. They seem to think that a movie about a female character couldn’t possibly be successful but nothing could be further from the truth. I can think of three female characters off the top of my head that have made comic publishers millions in book sales: Red Sonya, Black Widow, and Harley Quinn. Let’s think about this: if people are willing to pay to read the comics then maybe, just maybe, THEY’LL PAY TO SEE THE FREAKIN’ MOVIE! So maybe just maybe you should ADVERTISE THE FREAKIN’ THING!
After all, how can people pay to see a movie when they don’t know it exists or when it premieres? Oh I know what you’re thinking: the true fans will know. Yes, but what about the casual fans? What about people who might be new to the franchise? Why would you those two markets untapped? It just doesn’t make business sense especially in a Hollywood that judges the profitability of a movie or movie franchise based solely on opening weekend domestic ticket sales. And yes, I am completely aware of exactly how stupid that sounds but sadly, it is the truth. Movies live and die by opening weekend domestic sales even though it’s been proven time and again that a movie that flopped in its opening weekend domestically generated millions of dollars in foreign markets and that’s not even factoring in Blu-ray sales or On-Demand and RedBox rentals. It kind of makes you think that maybe, someone doesn’t want the Wonder Woman movie to be successful.
Speculation and conjecture aside, what little I’ve seen of the trailers gives me hope that the movie will actually do the character Justice (pun absolutely intended). My niece is six and really likes Wonder Woman as do thousands of other little girls. It would really be a shame to subject them and the rest of us to a movie where she’s nothing more than arm candy to a male character. In the meantime I’ll continue looking forward to the various Marvel properties coming out, a Harley Quinn spin-off, and of course Justice League.
There seems to be a lot of controversy around transgender people and their use of public bathrooms. There are some (read: bigots) who seem to think that if transgender people are allowed to use the bathroom assigned to the gender they feel comfortable in rather than the one they were assigned at birth, perverts the world over will get the idea that if they throw on a wig and some make up, they’ll be free to hang out in ladies rooms and molest women of all ages. This logic makes no sense to me because the very same people who think this way put a pervert who wears a wig and make up and openly brags about sexually assaulting women in the White House.
Let me go ahead and break this down for you piece by piece and using small words so that your tiny pea-sized brains will understand: TRANSGENDER PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE TOO! That means like all people they go potty. It also means that they should have the same basic rights you and I do.
But what about our daughters? Don’t they have the right to potty in relative safety? What if some pervert pretends to be transgender and tries to molest them?
Fact: More Republican lawmakers have been arrested for sexual misconduct in public restrooms than transgender people. It’s true. Google it. I’ll wait. But more importantly, if you’re so concerned for your daughters’ safety why exactly are you not escorting them into the public restroom?
She’s a teenager. What if she’s out with her friends?
Seriously? Have you ever seen a teenage girl out with her friends go into a bathroom alone? That’s what I thought.
But what if she’s on a date with her boyfriend?
Then the boyfriend is the one you should be worried about because I promise you he’s the one who’s trying the hardest to get at your daughter’s bits below the belt. But if you’re really that concerned about her using a public restroom by herself, teach her how to defend herself. Hint: the answer is almost always kick the groin.
Well I still think there ought to be a law requiring people to use the bathroom assigned to the gender they were born with.
Of course you do, but let me ask you this: How exactly would we go about enforcing such a law? I don’t know about you, but if someone walked up to me in a public restroom and asked me to show my genitals, I’d punch that person in the throat. You complain about how high taxes are now. Imagine how high they’ll be when we have to allocate public funds to enforce a ridiculous law on who uses which bathroom.
Why don’t we talk about the real issue here, that being your obvious transphobia, hmm? I get it. People fear that which they do not understand. You’ve always felt comfortable in your gender and don’t understand how anyone possibly couldn’t feel the same way. Okay think about why people dye their hair. Let’s say you were born with blonde hair, but as you age, you start to feel like your hair color just doesn’t fit you. You try everything. You try styling it differently, different cuts, etc and you still just don’t feel comfortable in your own skin as a blonde and you think you’d rather have brown hair, so you dye it. No big deal right? Sure some people may hate on you, but you’re happy and that’s what matters. At its very core, this gender issue is basically the same. Admittedly comparing changing gender to dying one’s hair is perhaps oversimplifying it and doesn’t entirely do it justice. After all, it’s not very likely that your parents will disown you for dying your hair. However for the purposes of explaining something big and complicated to people whose minds are small and closed, oversimplification can be a useful tool.
But what if my kid turns out to be one of those freaks?
Come on. Really? Transgender people are people just like you and me. They’re not freaks. We talked about this. A chance meeting with a transgender person in a public restroom is not going to turn your non-trans child trans. It doesn’t work that way. Frankly the fact that you think it does makes you a very special kind of stupid. If your child is going to be trans, it’s going to happen and there’s nothing you can do about it at this point because you see, your child has already been born and oh my God I can’t believe I have to say this in 2017.
When you were expecting your child before you knew what his/her gender was going to be, you didn’t care right? When people asked you said you just wanted a healthy, happy baby. So um…what exactly has changed? Why would you feel any differently now? Do you not love your child? Seriously what the hell is wrong with you? If you disown your transgender child, there’s a very special place in hell for you. I’m also going to need you to take that Jesus fish off the back of your car because anyone with your lack of compassion and tolerance has no right to call themselves a Christian.
Fine but they should have to use a separate bathroom from the rest of us.
Oh sure and while we’re at it, maybe we should make them use separate water fountains, make them sit in the back of city busses, and go to “separate but equal” schools. See, that’s how legal precedent works. First it’s a separate bathroom and then down the slippery slope we go until we bring back segregation. But here’s another fun fact about legal precedent: When the Supreme Court rules something unconstitutional, it’s pretty much game over for that law. Newsflash! In case you missed it, Brown v. Board of Education ruled state-sponsored segregation illegal in 1954.
I have a novel idea for you! JUST PEE OR POO AND MIND YOUR OWN DAMN BUSINESS! If the person in the restroom looks like a female from the waist up, assume she’s female. If the person looks like a male from the waist up, assume he’s a male. What goes on in the stall is between you and your deity of choice, so why should it be any different for them? What’s below your waist is none of their business so why is what’s below their waists any of yours? Seriously how old are we? Grow up! Just do your business and mind your own.
*Blogger puts down soap box and steps up on it*
Here it comes another one of my classic rants, folks! Consider yourselves warned!
I can’t believe I have to say this to grown men in 2017, but here it goes: There’s a right way and a wrong way to talk to women. It’s true! You really can speak to women in a way that doesn’t frustrate, annoy, offend, or otherwise aggravate them.
The first step is understanding that YOU ARE THE PROBLEM! We’re not over-sensitive. We’re not triggered snowflakes. You’re just an asshole. Don’t feed me a load of crap about how women are by nature irrational and prone to emotional reactions. That simply isn’t true and for God’s sake it’s 2017. Don’t bother bringing up our menstrual cycles either. We have years of experience dealing with our own hormones or as I call it riding the dragon. Call me Khaleesi. We’re not frail, emotional, reactionary creatures. Political correctness isn’t out of control. Stop making excuses.
Now that we have that out of the way, the next step is very simple. It’s called SHOWING WOMEN SOME FREAKIN’ RESPECT! That means not taking a condescending tone, not interrupting us, and not mansplaining when we ask you a question. Mansplaining is defined by the fine folks at Merriam-Webster as “when a man talks condescendingly to someone (especially a woman) about something he has incomplete knowledge of with the mistaken assumption that he knows more about it than the person he’s talking to does.” You don’t need to patronize us or translate your college level words into Trump speak for women to understand you.
Speak to us the same way that you would speak to someone you respect and admire. If you wouldn’t call someone you respect and admire honey, sweetie, puddin’, etc., then don’t do that to women. The only time it’s acceptable to use a term of endearment when speaking to a woman is if she is your significant other, child, or younger female relative (e.g. your niece). If she’s none of the above, don’t do it. It’s not nice or cute. It’s annoying and it makes you sound like a condescending jackass.
Now let’s talk about joking with women. Some men seem to think one of two things: Either women can’t take a joke because we’re “too sensitive” or “too easily offended,” or they think that their jokes are funny when in reality they’re just offensive as all fuck.
When making a joke, you have to think carefully about your topic. A joke about your girlfriend’s flatulence could be funny. A joke about gang-raping the only female comic at a comedy show? Not funny. Got it? Good. Violence against women is not funny. Violence against anyone who is not an obviously fictional cartoon character is not funny.
Now let’s talk about content. If the joke about your girlfriend’s flatulence ends with you recording an album of songs made from the various sounds her flatulence makes and releasing it next month, that’s funny. After all, who doesn’t like a good fart joke? The only way a joke about violence against women could ever be funny is if it ends with us getting to watch you get your ass beat by the woman you tried to assault or if it ends with you getting arrested, going to prison, and getting the same treatment from your cell mate and his buddies that you tried to give to that female comic earlier. That’s called poetic justice and sometimes it’s funny as hell.
Now let’s talk about a little thing I like to call discernment. As an adult, you should already understand the importance of thinking before you speak and having a filter. However if you don’t that’s okay. I’ll break it down for you.
The Child Filter:
If you’re about to say something to a woman, stop and imagine how you would feel if another man said the same thing to your daughter. If you’d knock him out, don’t say it. If you’re about to say something to a woman, stop and imagine what you would do if your son said the same thing to a girl. If you’d punish him, don’t say it.
Think of the example you’re setting for your children and act like they’re watching because trust me, they are.
The Husband Filter:
If you’re about to say something to a woman, stop and imagine how you would feel if another man said the same thing to your wife. If you’d knock him out, don’t say it. If you’re about to say something to a woman, stop and ask yourself, “Would my wife cuss me out and make me sleep on the couch if I said this to her?” If she’d cuss you out, don’t say it.
You want your wife to brag about you to her friends, right? Good! Act like it.
The Boyfriend Filter:
If you’re about to say something to a woman, stop and imagine how you would feel if another man said the same thing to your girlfriend. If you’d knock him out, don’t say it. If you’re about to say something to a woman, stop and ask yourself, “Would my girlfriend be pissed if I said this to her?” If she’d be pissed, don’t say it.
If you want your girlfriend to stick around, show her that you respect her and all women. Respect for women is hot.
If all else fails, think of any woman in your life that you love, respect, and admire and if you wouldn’t want another man to speak to them the way you’re thinking of speaking to the woman in front of you, change your damn tune! Treat others the way you want to be treated. You want to be treated with respect don’t you? Yes? Good! SO DO WOMEN!!! I’m so glad we had this talk.
*Blogger hops down off of soapbox*
I’m going to post this entry now before the current fascist dictatorship…I mean Presidential administration in the US repeals the First Amendment. From the moment Lord Commander Marmalade entered the presidential race I have wholeheartedly opposed him. Every single thing about him offends me from his racism, xenophobia, bigotry, ableism, and misogyny right down to his God-awful comb-over, orange skin, and tiny hands. I am absolutely baffled at how such a disrespectful, sorry excuse for a human being even made it to the Republican National Convention, let alone got elected to the highest office in the United States. On November 9th I woke up and asked, “How the f*ck could we let this happen?” Then I remembered the sheeple who supported him. Well I hope you’re pleased with yourselves because you got what you wanted. An orange reality TV star is the president and you have a Repugnant…I mean Republican majority in Congress.
Oh and by the way, for all of you moderate Republicans who are watching your party get hijacked by the Tea Party and alt-right, I don’t feel the least bit sorry for you. This is your circus and they are your monkeys. You could’ve stopped them and taken your party back. You could’ve said to hell with the legal quagmire that would result and run a contested convention. You had a chance to stand up, but you chose to go along with the insanity and now you have a misogynist in the White House. Your wives, daughters, sisters, mothers, aunts, and grandmothers must be so proud.
You can say “sour grapes” all you want. You can call me a snowflake and tell me to stop whining and just accept the fact that Hillary lost and he’s our president now and I should respect that and respect him. That’s fine. Freedom of speech is great! However I’m going to respectfully disagree. Sour grapes, my ass.
This isn’t about who won or lost. It’s about standing up for what we believe is right and that is as American as apple pie and baseball. Say what you want about the women who marched on January 21st. No matter what Il Douché tells you, more people mobilized in support of the Women’s March than the Inauguration. Criticize the airport protests all you want, but the public outcry got the attention of a Federal judge. Gosh! I gotta tell you I feel so safe now that those terrifying five year olds are being put in cuffs and dealt with! I can now walk the streets at night safely knowing that I won’t be attacked by a crayon-wielding terrorist! Oh wait, I should explain that last statement in case anyone from Cheeto face’s base is reading assuming that any of them are even literate. That statement about a crayon-wielding terrorist is what’s called sarcasm. I don’t feel any safer and I damn sure don’t walk the streets at night because I’m a woman and we can’t do that. (see previous entry)
We’re resisting because we refuse to normalize hate. We’re resisting because we see what’s really happening and refuse to have the wool pulled over our eyes and surprise! It’s working. The phone lines of Republican Senators have been blowing up with untold thousands of calls. The repeal of the ACA has caused Republican Representatives to have to duck out of back doors to avoid their angry constituents who want to know why they’re trying to take away their health insurance.
Even scientists are standing against the “alternative facts” and the gag order that was placed on them. Organizations like the National Park Service and NASA now have alternate Twitter accounts where they can speak freely. Even the Pope is resisting. Pope Francis is departing from the traditional Papal role of silent observer of all things political and openly criticizing the administration’s treatment of immigrants, refugees, and Muslims and calling for all Catholics to do the same.
We’ve seen this before and we don’t want to see it again. This administration is taking pages right out of Hitler’s playbook, but Hitler was much more dangerous because unlike this dream team of geniuses (<=sarcasm) he was smart. Hitler promised a better world, a German world. Trump promised to Make America Great Again. Hitler rose to power by criticizing the government. Trump criticized the government and promised to “drain the swamp.” Hitler reached out to frustrated Germans. Trump reached out to frustrated Americans. Hitler criticized the press and told people where to get their news. Trump won’t even entertain questions from CNN reporters and has told people to get their news from Fox or Breitbart since other outlets report “fake news.” Hitler maligned Jews in Germany and used them as scapegoats. Replace Jews with Muslims or immigrants or women or LGBTQ or any other group he’s attacked and you have Trump.
Those of us who learned history don’t wish to be doomed to repeat it. In 1939 we turned away Jewish refugees at our shore. Over 250 of them were then murdered in concentration camps. The Diary of Anne Frank is a popular reading choice in American schools. The strict immigration laws leading up to World War II caused us to deny entry to her family. Anne Frank could be an 88 year old woman living in Boston. Instead we allowed her to be murdered in Bergen Belsen concentration camp in 1945 at the age of 16. Still think this is about an election?
We’re not fighting over politics. We’re fighting for our rights. We’re fighting for our friends, coworkers, neighbors, and families. We’re fighting for the future, ours and yours. I will not shut up. I will not be complicit. I will not obey. I will resist because I love my country and it’s the right thing to do.
We like to think we’ve come so far with respect to women’s rights and while I admit there has been a great deal of progress, there are still some things that I feel should no longer be things in 2016. Society still seems to have an unwritten code of conduct for women and this code holds us to a very different standard from our male counterparts.
Rule #1: Never stand up for yourself or anything you believe in.
Women who stand up for themselves and are vocal about it are immediately labeled as a “bitch” or “volatile” or “difficult.” Talk to any woman and chances are she’ll tell you that she’s experienced this. I have enough firsthand knowledge to teach a Master’s program in it. Meanwhile, men who don’t stand up for themselves are labeled as a part of the female anatomy that Donald Trump seems to think you can grab.
Rule #2: Never show anger or frustration.
Don’t. Just don’t. Everyone will assume that you’re on your period or “not getting any,” even other women. Meanwhile men can be as angry and frustrated as they please. This is nuts. If every woman who’s ever been angry or frustrated felt that way because she was on her period then women have been on their periods non-stop since the DAWN OF FREAKIN’ TIME! If that were true the feminine hygiene product industry would be booming and we’d have no national debt. If every woman who’s ever been angry or frustrated felt that way because she was “not getting any,” humanity would’ve died out by now. Maybe that woman isn’t on her period or sexually frustrated. Maybe she’s angry and frustrated because you’re an ass! If you say stuff like this, grow up.
Rule #3: Never go jogging alone at night or in broad daylight, never go to a party, never go to a bar, never go out on a date, never have any alcoholic beverages of any kind, never wear a skirt, never wear pants, never go to sleep in your own home, never go out to the store during the day or at night…screw it. Basically never leave your house if you don’t want to risk being attacked or raped.
From the time I was twelve, I was conditioned to always be aware of my surroundings and always be ready to defend myself because there are people out there who want to try to make me into a victim for no other reason than the fact that I was born female. That’s a pretty young age to have your whole childhood just end for you, isn’t it? As teenagers women deal with men old enough to be our fathers objectifying us before we’re even fully aware of what that means. We’re conditioned to cater to and coddle the male ego because God forbid the guy we’re turning down for a date or a drink just snaps when we tell him we’re not interested. We can’t even walk down the street minding our own business without constantly looking over our shoulders. Even falling asleep in your own home is dangerous. A woman in NJ went to sleep in her home and woke up to find a man raping her. She reported it and cooperated with police only to have a judge tell her she wasn’t raped because she wasn’t awake to say no. We can’t even report a rape without having to answer a series of victim-shaming questions. “What were you wearing? How many drinks did you have? Were you intoxicated? Did you flirt with him?” Women and young girls get this mixed message that our bodies belong to us and no one is entitled to them without our consent and then we’re told in the same breath to be careful because if the wrong guy takes a liking to us we might just get raped. I have an idea! WHY DON’T WE TEACH MEN AND YOUNG BOYS TO KEEP IT IN THEIR PANTS?!?!?!?!
Rule #4: Never be proud of your body, dress in a way that flatters you too much, or try to own your sexuality.
Women who do any of the above are immediately labeled “sluts” or if your prefer as a T.H.O.T. (That Hoe Over There). Men can wear and do whatever or whomever they please and people not only respect it, they also glorify it and high five them to congratulate them on their latest sexual conquest. Sex should not be about conquest. Ladies and gentlemen we’re not at war. Treating sex as an act of conquest is too close to treating sex as an act of violence. This mentality is why rape culture exists. Sex should be about mutual love and connection to another person. Despite the strides we’ve made women are still viewed as objects or prizes to be won. I’m sorry boys, but this isn’t a carnival game. If you have a conquest mentality, don’t step right up. Step right off.
There is undeniably room for growth here. First, ladies we need to build each other up. If you see someone standing up for herself, stand with her. Take care of yourselves, take care of each other, and for God’s sake stop calling other women sluts because you’re jealous that you don’t look as good as they do. If we don’t build each other up, we’re just getting in our own way and impeding our own progress.
Men, get it together. I know that there are good men out there. I’m personally acquainted with several. Guys, we know you care about us. This is your fight, too. If you hear one of your friends being a misogynist ass, tell him off. There are a great many things I’d like to say to misogynists, but they all end with “and the horse you rode in on” and it’s not like they’d listen anyway, so this is where I’ll jump off my soap box. Let’s do better, people.
Gender equality has been a big topic recently. Emma Watson brought it to the UN. It’s been brought up during nearly every Presidential debate. It’s even hit the world of sports, particularly soccer (or what the rest of the world calls football). On International Women’s Day, soccer’s international governing body, FIFA held a conference on Women in Leadership that was well-attended and well-received. Most recently, five members of the US Women’s National Team have filed suit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of the team demanding equal pay for equal play.
There’s an opportunity here to make what is recognized the world over as the beautiful game even more beautiful. I don’t mean on an aesthetic level based on the looks of female players. Grow up, children. We have an opportunity to be on the right side of history. In 2016, women in the workplace still receive lower pay than their male counterparts. There are also fewer women in leadership roles. Women are 45% of the overall S&P 500 labor force. Yet, women are only 25% of executive and senior-level officials and managers, only 19% of board of director seats and only 4.6% of CEOs. (Source: https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/women/report/2015/08/04/118743/the-womens-leadership-gap/) Sorry to burst your bubble folks, but in 2016 America, the Gender Gap is still a thing.
What does this have to do with soccer? Let’s compare the playing conditions. The FIFA World Cup held in 2014 in Brazil was played entirely on natural grass fields. The FIFA Women’s World cup held in 2015 in Canada was played entirely on artificial turf fields. Natural grass has repeatedly proven to be a superior playing surface. Studies have also shown a potential correlation between artificial turf and the development of cancer later in life. Perhaps more suspicious than that last tidbit was the, “But grass is hard to grow in Canada,” argument used by FIFA and Canadian officials for why artificial turf was being used. No games were scheduled to be played in the arctic areas of the country and I wasn’t aware that Canada’s climate had changed so drastically that it became a freakin’ desert. Quick! Someone call Al Gore! I smell a sequel to An Inconvenient Truth!
When the players and the fans saw through that load of fertilizer, the story changed to, “It’s too expensive to grow grass in Canada.” Every good liar knows that you never change your story. Amateurs! Were we supposed to forget all about the untold sum of money that FIFA had sitting in its pocket after the World Cup in Brazil? Scott’s even offered to lay sod over the turf and send people and products to care for it absolutely free. The beautiful pitch that would’ve undoubtedly resulted would’ve been an advertisement on its own. When presented with the ultimate win-win, FIFA and the Canadian officials said no. So in the end, the Women’s World Cup was played on turf. It was never about grass or money. It was always about equal rights for equal players.
Multiple women’s teams that played in the tournament were from countries where their male counterparts failed to even qualify for the men’s tournament. As it stands, the US Men’s National Team hasn’t won a single World Cup. Our Women’s National Team has won three (1991, 1999, & 2015). In the FIFA World Rankings, the US women sit at #1. Our men sit at #34. Equal play my sweet petootie! The more accurate term is better play.
Not horrified yet? Well just wait until you hear what the USSF pays men for a loss. Male players receive $5,000 per game to lose, which as we just established they do rather often much to the utter consternation of the fans (Come on, guys! You’re better than this!). What do the women get paid? Somewhere in the neighborhood of $1700.00 and that’s only if they win. That’s a disgrace.
How can we put ourselves on the right side of history and right this very obvious and egregious wrong? First and foremost, give women equal pay for their superior play. Yes, I know the slogan is Equal Pay for Equal Play but I’m being real here. And yes, fine folks at the USSF, this can be done. You have the money and the resources. The Women’s World Cup final was the most watched game in the history of any World Cup tournament regardless of the gender of the players in said tournament. Women’s soccer has become wildly popular at every level from youth to NWSL. The USSF is positioned to get in on the ground floor of what promises to be a huge movement and will make money if they make the right moves.
While we’re talking equality, can we PLEASE stop subjecting the fans to every single meaningless Men’s International Friendly and do something to broadcast the women’s games?! I had to watch the majority of the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament on a tiny laptop screen and I follow most of the NWSL season on the very same tiny screen assuming a live video stream is even available. Most of the time, I have to rely on Twitter. The money the USSF put into NWSL is appreciated, but women are now a majority (50.8%) of the US population, so please GET IT TOGETHER!
In addition to equal pay and equal broadcast time, the next priority should be a concerted effort to include more women in leadership roles in soccer’s governing bodies the world over. There was a lot of conversation on this topic on International Women’s Day. To paraphrase the King, Elvis Pressley I’d like to see a little less conversation and a little more action, please. So, Mr. Gulati, Mr. Infantino, this is the challenge that I am issuing to you: Include more women in the ranks of leadership and lead the rest of the world by your example. Then kick back and watch as the beautiful game becomes even more beautiful.