By: Angie Haddock
Megan Rapinoe, Olympic gold medalist and two-time Women’s World Cup champion, has become a galvanizing force for social change; here, she urges all of us to take up the mantle, with actions big and small, to continue the fight for justice and equality.
I’m a soccer fan, and this is the second biography I’ve covered of a US Women’s National team player. Not surprisingly, I loved this book!
Of course, there is talk of soccer. But, I felt like it wasn’t too heavy. I definitely think people who don’t follow soccer, or know soccer terms, could still follow those bits.
Rapinoe tackles a lot of things that aren’t soccer, though – and this is where the book shines. (In current internet lingo – she spills ALL the tea.) She talks about living as an out gay icon in the public eye, and about how that affected her family in a rural/conservative hometown. She talks about her brother’s ongoing issues with drug use and incarceration.
Her political activism started through her connection with the LBGTQ community, as one would expect. But she didn’t stop there.
While kicking so much ass for the U.S. Women’s National Team (winning two World Cups and one Olympic tournament), Rapinoe also became involved with the team’s fight for equal pay and treatment with the men’s team. She does not shy away from the details on this one, and they are compelling. A lot has been written about the pay disparity, but there are other issues these women are fighting for, too. (Examples include not having to play on turf and not having to share rooms while traveling.)
Eventually, she also adds “racial activist” to her long list. She faced some blowback from that, from both her coach and the inevitable social media trolls. But she also acknowledges that she can get away with more, as a petite white woman, than some others – for example, she is still playing her sport, while Colin Kaepernick is not.
Of course this book will appeal to soccer fans, but I think it would also be a great read for anyone interested in social justice issues.
I’ll end with a few of my favorite passages:
“I was appealing to our country as a whole, but I also wanted to make a point about the right of each of us to fully live our own lives. There’s a fallacy in America that acting for the common good means sacrificing the individual. Well, as a person of robust ego, I am here to tell you that life doesn’t work like that. The interests of the individual aren’t at odds with the collective. You can win for the team and still celebrate your own performance.
I believe this especially with regard to women, whose individual needs have long been overlooked in favor of – oh, the irony – the collective good of men. When I yelled, “I deserve this!” I was speaking for women who are told to be selfless, invisible, meek; to accept less money, less respect, fewer opportunities, less investment. Who are told to be grateful, uncomplaining. Who are discouraged from owning their victories or even seeking them out in the first place. You can share, and help, and be part of your community, and you can also stand tall and enjoy your success. No caveat, no apology. Arms out wide, claim your space.”
“Real change lies within all of us. It is in the choices we make every day. It’s in how we talk, who we hire, and what we permit others to say in our presence. It’s in reading more, thinking more, considering a different perspective. At its simplest, it’s in whether we’re willing to spend even five minutes a day thinking about how we can make the world better.”