Despite Title IX protecting females from sexism in any federally funded education program or activity, women are still finding themselves jumping over hurdles to be respected the way the boys are. To play in the facilities that are built for the boys. To get the exposure the boys get. To get paid the same as the boys.
Yet still, female athletes are facing inequality. The 2015 Women’s U.S. National Soccer team took first place in the World Cup after a dominating defeat against Japan. The women were awarded a $2 million prize.
When the 2014 Men’s U.S. National Soccer team took eighth place in the World Cup, they were paid $8 million. For losing.
Female athletes have been plagued by stereotypes since the very first moment they walked onto a field. Phrases like, “you play like a girl!” were hurled at them like weapons, but how else are they supposed to play? They are girls.
If playing like a girl means you’ve played like any of these female athletes, then please, call me a girl.
Arguably the best female tennis player of all time, Williams was first ranked Number 1 by the Women’s Tennis Association in 2002. She’s gone on to hold that title a staggering six times, as well as making history as the oldest No. 1 player since WTA’s inception in the 1970s. Recently winning four Grand Slam tournaments in a row, the incredible athlete hopes to bring home her fifth title in a calendar year at the 2015 U.S. Open. Dealing with extreme racism as well as critical body shaming in the media, “Serena Slam” has been able to show her critics who really has the power. HINT: It’s the woman with the 118mph serve.
She practically, single-handedly, changed the way America saw women’s soccer. Leading Team USA to win the 1999 Women’s FIFA World Cup while also holding the title of FIFA World Player of the Year for the first two years the award was given, she let the world know that women could bend it. And the world listened. Up until recently, Hamm held the record for most international goals scored, a whopping 159, by any player, male or female.
While most females are viewed as dainty, fragile things, Lisa Leslie breaks the mold, letting the world know women can be any size, of any strength, and are still women. Standing at six feet, five inches, the basketball superstar has long been regarded as one of the most dominant players in the WNBA. An ambidextrous MVP, Leslie led the United States to four Olympic gold medals in ‘96, ‘01,’04 and ‘08. Oh, and he first ever slam dunk recorded in WNBA history? That was Leslie.