At the 2019 Texas Conference for Women, U.S. women’s soccer superstar Megan Rapinoe was asked to respond to the suggestion some people have made that she should be grateful for the opportunity to play on the world stage—and perhaps not make such a big deal out of the whole equal pay thing.
Here was her reply:
“I think the idea that being paid equally and knowing what you deserve and also being grateful are not mutually exclusive. That doesn’t compute for me or anyone on the team,” she said to applause from the audience of 7,500.
Known for her candor, the pink-purple-haired co-captain of the world’s greatest women’s team added: “I think that we can be proud and grateful to represent our country; and to me, pulling on that shirt doesn’t mean just being grateful for wearing the stars and stripes. It means fighting like hell every day to ensure that every person is afforded the same opportunities as everyone else—and that women get paid equally.”
Rapinoe helped lead the U.S. women’s team to its historic victory at the 2019 World Cup—as both top scorer and most valuable player and more recently won FIFA player of the year. But as extraordinary as her play on the field is, it is her playfulness, charisma and boldness in supporting equality off the field that has people talking about what comes next for her.
Despite speculation about a potential run for office, she said that would not be in the cards. “I don’t feel qualified to be the President of the United States or a Senator or anything else.” However, she added, “I am a citizen, and I feel like we all have a duty and a responsibility to be involved, active citizens.”
For her, that means fighting for equal pay for women—as well as racial equality, GLBT equality, and other issues. “I actually would argue that everything affects everything,” she explained. “I don’t live on a personal island by myself, which nobody does obviously. We live in society. These things affect us deeply and personally, whether it’s in our daily life or not.”
Finally, added Rapinoe, who is partnered with WNBA champion Sue Bird: “I feel like as someone who’s in a minority group in one sense, if I’m going to ask people to be an ally to me, if I want people to respect me and the fact that I’m gay, then I have to in turn believe other people, respect other people, and get behind them as well.”