#TBT: What the U.S. Women's National Team Winning the FIFA World Cup Means to the Feminist Movement in the U.S.
Let's be honest, sports are a sore subject for me. I actively hate American football. On Sundays in the fall you can find me either ranting about the idiocy that is the NFL or just avoiding any bars and televisions. The squeaky shoes in basketball drive me nuts, and baseball is boring. I don't try to hide it.
But guys, soccer. SOCCER. Soccer was my sport growing up, and I'm so glad it was. Because this year was unlike any other for American soccer fans. We got the opportunity to see the U.S. Women's National Team win the FIFA World Cup for the third time. Let me rephrase that: we got to watch the U.S. Women's National Team DOMINATE the FIFA World Cup tournament.
That was one of my most exciting moments as an American, and one of my proudest moments as a female. When they won the final game, and the team ran to hug their loved ones in the crowd, tears rolled down my face because I knew this was a game changer. A women's team sport was finally going to be respected in the United States. Here's why that championship matters so much to the feminist movement in the U.S.:
1) Not many Americans care about soccer, and suddenly it was all anyone could talk about.
If you ask an American football fan what they think of soccer, chances are they'll tell you it's boring, and that there's not enough goals scored. Many people watch a few minutes out of a game here and there to pass the time between SportsCenter updates, but it often doesn't go farther than that for Americans. However, when it became clear the WNT was going all the way, people got excited and actually paid attention. In fact, the Women's World Cup Final is the most watched soccer match in U.S. history. A female team suddenly created a huge audience for a sport that many people in this country previously couldn't have cared less about. 2) Support for the team from female celebrities came pouring in.
Lets face it, it isn't exactly easy for women in the limelight to give their support to other women. They are constantly pushed and prodded until they eventually throw the other females in the industry under the bus. This is the norm. But during this tournament, boy oh boy did we see that turn around. First came Amy Poehler, then Queen Bey, Taylor Swift even brought the team on stage during her 1989 World Tour, and on and on. Instead of the usual girl on girl criticism that we've all come to expect, a new leaf was turned: support.
3) The team showed girls and women everywhere how to be a united front.
Abby Wambach is, without a doubt, one of the most famous U.S. women's soccer players of all time. She is known for her insane header goals, and is currently the leading all-time international scorer for men and women. Before the 2015 World Cup even began, Wambach announced it would be her last. As a four-time tournament veteran, this came as no surprise to U.S. WNT fans. So when Wambach stepped onto the World Cup pitch for the final time, acting captain Carli Lloyd made sure she was wearing the captain armband. And when the game was over, Wambach found nominal captain Christie Rampone and handed the armband over to her to raise the trophy. Wambach said, "She’s [Rampone] my captain, always will be. I think it’s pretty symbolic that a team that was able to come away with a world championship wants to pass off the attention from one person to another. Carli hands it to me, I hand it to Christie. That is what it takes to win a world championship." (USA Today Sports)
4) The "women's sports are boring" conversation was finally contested.
I personally think most sports are boring (and I'll never see the allure of Fantasy Feagues), so I'm absolutely sure I am guilty of calling a professional women's sport uninteresting. There may be many like me, but I know that many of the men and women tweeting about this exact subject don't feel the same as I do. These humans truly believe in their heart of hearts that women cannot have exciting competition in sports. REALLY?! You know what? I'm getting angry just explaining this to you. So I'll let the real pros, Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers, do it for me.
5) Women are finally on the cover of the FIFA video game cover for the very first time.
This particular piece of information raises two points for me. The first is that it's 2015, and EA Sports is JUST NOW featuring women on the cover? And not even just on the cover - but actually in the game for the first time ever as well. I'm sorry, aren't we living in a post "Mia Hamm in the 1999 World Cup Championship" world? Don't take this the wrong way, I am thrilled that athletes who happen to produce estrogen instead of testosterone will be featured. I just can't believe it took this fucking long.
The second is that there has already been so much backlash on this decision. The sexist tweets are endless, and began nearly as soon as the announcement was made. I myself had a friend show me a video depicting women furiously scrubbing a kitchen while men controlled them with Xbox controllers. But still, we soldier on. Because despite all the hatred and negativity associated with the feminist movement, we know it's worth it.
So what is the most important piece of feminist history from your lifetime? How did this championship win affect you? We want to hear about it! Comment below and follow us on Instagram for a chance to win a U.S. WNT Champions t-shirt!