The soccer champion has become a beloved icon on and off the field.
Megan Rapinoe, the player who led her team to victory in this year's FIFA World Cup, has also managed to win the Internet's heart.
Well-spoken and radically feminist off the field, not to mention an indomitable star on it, she's successfully presented herself as a powerful, unapologetic woman, a symbol of political resistance and intersectional liberation.
"Disagree with her? Fine," writes Jerry Brewer in the Washington Post. "But there she is, striving to add to our women's soccer prestige. She's America. Like her or not, Rapinoe is going to represent us, and all of our spectacular complications. She is a mirror, unflattering, uncomfortable. Unavoidable." In essence, Rapinoe is America in all of its brashness and fearlessness; she's America in the radical vision and defiant spirit that the nation's founders dreamed of; she's America in the chaotic anger and exuberance that defines her country today. Here are six of her most memorable moments.
1. That time she spoke out against Donald Trump
Rapinoe's name made its way into national consciousness when a reporter asked her if, should the team win the World Cup, she would visit the White House. Her response has become a rallying cry for those opposed to Trump: "I'm not going to the fucking White House," she said.
This prompted a response from Trump himself. "Megan should WIN before she talks," he said. "Finish the job!" Later, the inflamed president continued, "Megan should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag, especially since so much has been done for her & the team," continued Trump, also telling Rapinoe to "be proud of the Flag that you wear" because "the USA is doing GREAT!"
When Rapinoe was asked to clarify her statement, she said, "I stand by the comments I made about not wanting to go to the White House with the exception of the expletive. My mom will be really upset about that."
2. That time she won the World Cup
Not only did Rapinoe's team win the World Cup, but she scored one of the game's two goals. In that moment, it was almost as if she always knew that she was destined to send that soccer ball ricocheting into the netted mouth of victory. It was a small kick for woman, but a giant, spiteful, radiant kick for womankind.
Needless to say, that goal was just one of Rapinoe's countless incredible moments on the field.
Top Ten Megan Rapinoe Goals www.youtube.com
3. That time she kissed her girlfriend after winning the World Cup—and all the gay moments that came before
Though the fact that Rapinoe has a girlfriend might be devastating to many of her adoring fans, admittedly, their relationship is beyond adorable. Rapinoe and her girlfriend, Sue Bird, met at the Olympics in 2016. Afterwords, Rapinoe "sauntered" into her now-girlfriend's DM's (in Bird's words) and the two have been together ever since.
These two really are the definition of a power couple. Bird is a championship-winning WNBA basketball player herself, so she can certainly understand Rapinoe's athletic lifestyle. She's also been supportive of her partner's newfound political drama, even penning an essay called "So the President F*cking Hates My Girlfriend." Among other things, Bird wrote about how she sometimes tries to see the world through Megan's eyes. "So the idea of Megan Goggles, I guess, it's this idea of like — they're this thing that I put on, and it helps me loosen up a bit?? And just open my eyes, and see the world from Megan's Extremely Megan perspective," she wrote. At the end of the essay, she brought it all back home with a statement that anyone who watched the soccer match can relate to. "But on Friday? It was like for this one, perfect, fleeting, uncomplicated day….. I was everyone. I was happy. I was crazy. I was PROUD. I was pretending to know about soccer. I was a little overwhelmed. I was pretty damn American. And I was in love with Megan Rapinoe." Same, Sue Bird. Same.
Image via CNN International
As if this relationship wasn't enough of a triumph for the queer community on its own, Rapinoe has long been an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. In an interview with Yahoo! Sports, she said, "You can't win a championship without gays on your team. It's never been done before. Ever. That's science right there."
Then, of course, there was the time she was the first openly gay woman to pose in Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue.
Image via Sports Illustrated
4. That time she and her team sued the U.S. Soccer Federation and demanded equal pay
The U.S. Women's Soccer Team showed its true tenacity when it sued the U.S. Soccer Federation for gender discrimination in March 2019. Regarding the suit, Rapinoe told The New York Times, "I think to be on this team is to understand these issues." She added, "And I think we've always — dating back to forever — been a team that stood up for itself and fought hard for what it felt it deserved and tried to leave the game in a better place."
Later in the interview, she continued, "We very much believe it is our responsibility, not only for our team and for future U.S. players, but for players around the world — and frankly women all around the world — to feel like they have an ally in standing up for themselves, and fighting for what they believe in, and fighting for what they deserve and for what they feel like they have earned."
So just how vast is this wage gap? The winners of the men's World Cup took home $400 million in 2018—while the prize for the women's game still stands at $30 million. In support of Rapinoe and her team's efforts, the crowd began chanting "Equal Pay" during the celebrations after Sunday's game, showing just how intertwined these athletes' political efforts have become with their sport.
5. That time that she took a knee for Kaepernick
Rapinoe's been publicly expressing her beliefs for a long time. In 2016, she was both the first white person and the first woman to take a knee in line with Kaepernick's protest against police brutality during the signing of the national anthem.
Image via the Los Angeles Times
Before the final match against the Netherlands, Rapinoe protested the anthem once again by refusing to sing it. When critics called her "un-American," she responded, "I think that I'm particularly and uniquely and very deeply American. If we want to talk about the ideals that we stand for, all the songs and the anthem and sort of what we were founded on, I think I'm extremely American."
6. That time she quoted Nipsey Hussle
After winning the World Cup, Rapinoe posted a photo of herself along with lyrics from the late rapper Nipsey Hussle's "Hussle and Motivate" as the caption. This only deepened her fans' adoration, as Hussle was a beloved figure who was extremely active in his community. In a sense, Hussle embodied the kind of compassion and drive that Rapinoe's also becoming known for, merging talent and activism into a public persona that might serve as a beacon of inspiration for us all.
7. That time she became a meme
Even if you have no idea who Megan Rapinoe is, you've probably seen her in meme format. One photo of her in particular—the one in which she's beaming and holding her arms aloft in a celebratory gesture—has become an emblem of triumph and pride.
Now that she's worked her way into the Internet's collective consciousness by way of memetic distribution, one thing is for certain: Rapinoe is going to be seen and heard for a long time, societal expectations and American presidents be damned.
Image via PEOPLE.com
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The quarterback said "I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country." And then he tried to apologize. And only made it worse.
Drew Brees, a man who makes literally millions of dollars for throwing a ball, has come under fire for insensitive comments he made about NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police brutality.
"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees said in the interview with Yahoo Finance. He clarified that this was in part because he envisioned his grandfathers, who fought in World War II, during the National Anthem. He continued, saying, "And is everything right with our country right now? No. It's not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together. We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution."
This isn't the first time Brees made it clear that he cares more for the idea of a make-believe unified America than he does for actual human lives. In 2016, he criticized Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the anthem, saying it was "disrespectful to the American flag" and "an oxymoron" because the flag gave critics the right to speak out in the first place.
Colin Kaepernick kneeling in protest of racist police brutality
Of course, the flag's alleged ideals have been proven to only be applicable to wealthy, white men—men like Brees. Sure, his grandfathers did a noble thing when they fought under the US flag during WWII, and no one, including Kaepernick, has ever said that sacrifice isn't worth respecting. Thanks to the sacrifices of many people (including the enslaved Black backs upon which this country was built, including the scores of routinely abused Black soldiers who fought for American lives), America has offered opportunity and peace for many, many people. In particular, Ole' Glory has been very kind to men like Brees: rich, white men who still control the majority of the power and the wealth in the United States.
But what about the rest of us, Drew? What about George Floyd whose neck was crushed by a police officer who kneeled on him so casually that he didn't even take his hand out of his pocket? What about Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot for the crime of being Black and going for a jog? What about Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was murdered by police in her home in the middle of the night for a crime that had nothing to do with her? What about Tony McDade, Drew–have you heard his name? Have you heard about the 38-year-old Black trans man who was gunned down in Florida last week? Do you understand why these people's family's may harbor just a bit of disrespect for your precious flag?
Is it possible for you to realize, Drew, that your wish for "unity" is not a wish for progress, but a wish to maintain the status quo? When you call for unity under the American flag, you're talking about your flag, the flag that represents a long, sordid history of racial oppression and violence. There is no unity where there is no justice. When you say that "we are all in this together," what you're saying is that we all have roles to play in the version of society that has served you so well. For your part, you'll be a rich, white man, and for Black people's part, they'll continue to be victims of state-sanctioned murders– but hopefully more quietly, hopefully in a manner that doesn't make you uncomfortable?
When you say, "We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution," what you mean to say is that POC and their allies are at fault. Sure, you probably agree that Derek Chauvin took it a bit too far, and you probably feel a little self-conscious that he's brought all this "Black rights" stuff up again. But when you say "all," you place blame on the victims who are dying under a broken system. And what, exactly, do you expect POC to do differently, Drew? Ahmaud Arbery was just out jogging, and still he died. George Floyd was just trying to pay a cashier, and still he died. POC and their allies try to peacefully protest by marching in the streets or taking a knee at a football game, and still white people condemn and criticize. Still the police shoot.
After much criticism, Brees did attempt an apology on Instagram, where he posted a hilariously corny stock photo of a Black and white hand clasped together. His caption, though possibly well-intentioned, made it even clearer that his understanding of the movement for Black lives is thoroughly lacking.
Highlights of the "apology" include his immediate attempt to exonerate himself from culpability, claiming that his words were misconstrued, saying of his previous statement: "Those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character." Unfortunately, Drew, white people like you are the "enemy," as you put it, because by default you are at the very least part of the problem. No one is accusing you of being an overt racist, Drew; no one thinks you actively and consciously detest Black people. But your lack of empathy, your apathy, and your unwillingness to unlearn your own biases are precisely what has persisted in the hearts and minds of well-meaning white Americans for centuries.
Next, you say, "I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the Black community in this movement." No, Drew. Just no. Black people don't need white people's savior complexes to interfere in their organizing; what they need is for us to shut up and listen. What they need is for us to get our knees off of their necks.
Finally, you say, "I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy." This, Drew, is suspiciously similar to saying, "But I'm one of the good whites!" The fact of the matter is that feeling the need to prove your allyship is not about helping a movement; it's about feeding your own ego. Not only that, but your emphasis on "ALWAYS" does a pretty good job of making it clear that you don't think you have a racist bone in your body and that you have taken great offense at any accusations to the contrary. I have some news for you, Drew: Every white person is racist. Sure, the levels vary, and while you may not be actively and consciously discriminating against POC, you have been brought up in a racist system, and your implicit biases are as strong as any other white person's. Your job now is to unlearn those biases and confront those subtle prejudices in yourself and in other white people. Maybe the first step in doing so is just shutting your f*cking mouth about kneeling at football games. Maybe you should even consider taking a knee yourself.
For other non-BIPOC trying to be better allies, check out one of these 68+ anti-racism resources.
We're glad they're on our side.
The world is up against a seemingly insurmountable threat, but luckily, we've got a crack team of heroes on the case.
Sure, there's already the girl with super strength, the guy who can fly, and the anthropomorphic, trash-talking animal tailor-made for merchandise. But this is a threat of intergalactic proportions, and we're going to need all the help we can get if we want to survive.
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