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Soccer and Women's Equality

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In most circumstances, sports are dominated by men. They play in the sports that are truly popular and gain attention in the media. This male dominated sports culture is largely due to the inequality women face in comparison to men. Women are often seen by stereotypes that portray them as gentle and fragile, while sports are seen as quite the opposite. However, in recent years a women’s sports power has arisen. Women’s soccer grew largely in the US after several Olympic and World Cup titles. This has given women a new place in sports culture, as well as pop-culture entirely, and has led to diversity in sports that has created a more level playing ground for women, at least in the United States. Unfortunately, the popularity of women’s soccer is not global, but the growth of it is a determinate factor in how women are viewed that has led to a chance for young girls to grow up in a world more accepting of their dreams and allow women more diverse respect.

When the United States women’s national soccer team first started playing a few decades ago, no one really believed that they would accomplish much. Most people were set on the idea that a woman’s place was definitely not out on a soccer field. However, these women were quick to prove their talent as they won Women’s World Cup titles and Olympic medals one after the other. This quick rise to fame meant a rise in popularity for the United States women’s national soccer team, as well as a new standing for women in sports culture. In Ramdas’ TED lecture “Radical Women, Embracing Tradition,” she says, “They’re saving us by redefining and re-imagining a future that defies and blurs accepted polarities, polarities we’ve taken for granted for a long time, like the ones between modernity and tradition, First World and Third World, oppression and opportunity.” When Ramdas made that statement she was not referring to women’s soccer, the United States or even sports at all. She was speaking of any woman who goes out and does something a little differently, even if it is not quite accepted, which in this case is exactly what is happening. The United States women’s national soccer team has went out and redefined an area of sports culture, thus making it more inclusive and added to the diversity within it. As Ramdas points out, this is even greater than just giving women a place in the sports aspect of pop-culture, because these women are blurring the lines between opposites that need to be diminished.

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When the United States women’s national soccer team steps onto the field they are creating a path to diversity, but that is not nearly all they are doing. As the textbook points out, it is very important to address culture from a political standpoint, while also being inclusive enough to designate all aspects of a particular topic (Gaillet et al., 162). That understanding leads to the way that the team’s growing fan base is interpreted. This quickly growing fan-base meant more than just more spectators to watch their games and follow their journeys to victories around the world. It also meant that thousands of children would see them accomplishing something great. There have not always been very many popular women in sports, which was unfortunate for every little girl out there who had dreams to make it big in sports. However, the United States national team gave a whole set of powerful women to the world for children to see. This gives girls a chance to have a role-model who they can really associate with. It is a very powerful thing for these girls to see strong, independent women on television and realize that one day that could be them instead.

Unfortunately, the rise of women’s soccer has not been as effective globally as it has been in the United States. In an article written by Knoppes and Anthonissen, the popularity of women’s soccer is contrasted between the United States and the Netherlands. As the authors point out, soccer had very different roots in the Netherlands than in the United States. In the Netherlands soccer was introduced as means to make boys more “manly” and “confident,” and when women participated in the sport, it was seen as “devaluing” it (Knoppes & Anthonissen, 354). In the United States, soccer was also a men’s sport at first, but since it was seen as healthy and easy to play, it was not uncommon for it to be a part of a physical education program that included women (Knoppes & Anthonissen, 354). Perhaps the difference of attitude since the beginning towards women playing soccer is what has created such a difference in how women playing the sport is viewed in modern times. In Netherlands, their culture still does not truly accept women playing a sport in the same way that the United States does, and so women’s soccer does not have the same popularity there, which unfortunately means a less diverse culture. Women’s soccer in the United States is something that can blur lines of distinction and give young girls role-models, but the same idea cannot always be found in the Netherlands or in other parts of the world.

The idea of women playing soccer has definitely not always been an accepted thing and is certainly not universally accepted in modern times. However, as long as women keep trying, they can blur the lines that Ramdas has pointed out. Women can save the world from polarities that only cause problems. Soccer is definitely not a solution to all of the world’s problems, but it does open up possibilities for women. It is very important that attention be paid even to areas of pop-culture, because such popularities are highly visible. For now, the rise of professional women’s soccer gives young girls something to dream about and people to look up to, even if the world has not quite accepted it.

Annotated Bibliography

My paper contains an analysis that is meant to show how the growing popularity of professional women’s soccer is beneficial to the movement for women’s equality across several cultures. Since soccer is a globally popular and fairly old sport, I will discuss various cultures, including that of here in the United States in order to have a wider perspective, and other points in time that align with the rise of women’s soccer. This paper includes a source that directly talks about inequality in relation to women’s soccer and contrasts the United States to the Netherlands, as well as another that more broadly discusses women’s inequality and how women are rising past that, and one of the assigned textbooks that is used to provide cultural context. My paper is meant to convey a very specific viewpoint of women’s equality that highlights the benefits of women being involved in a type of pop culture that is generally more male dominated. I will also address and defend some counter arguments that I believe could be brought up. The idea of this paper is not to just discuss women in soccer, but to create a universal description of how pop culture events can influence important aspects of society. My paper uses soccer as a discussion point into various other typically male dominated features of society. This paper seeks to portray women’s sports, and soccer specifically, as stepping stones for women and not a sole factor in the ascent to equality.

In this section of the book, culture is addressed. It explains how culture should be shown and how best to write about it politically. This chapter discusses topics, such as: gender roles, race, and class. Since this chapter in this book discusses culture, it gives me a way to talk about my pop culture group. It is the information that allows my paper to have a political viewpoint. Having a political viewpoint is very important to talking about my topic of women’s equality. This source corresponds with the lecture Radical Women, Embracing Tradition, since they both deal with a political standpoint on cultural groups.

In this journal article the authors compare and contrast how inequality is affected by and related to women’s soccer. They look at the United States and the Netherlands due to the large difference in how soccer is viewed in the countries, as well as the difference in impacts of the emergence of professional women’s soccer. This source is directly related to what I will discuss in my paper and gives me two specific cultures to use as examples in a global aspect. This journal article focuses on a more specific part of women’s equality, but has the same general points about factors influencing women’s equality as Radical Women, Embracing Tradition.

Ramdas takes an interesting approach to discussing women’s equality in this lecture. Instead of portraying women as people who should be empowered and saved, she talks about how women are actually the ones saving everyone else. Ramdas focuses primarily on assumptions and traditions forced on women based on her own experiences and those of who she has met. This is a useful source for me to use, since it is example of women breaking traditions just like women in professional soccer do. I apply it to my paper as a standard for how equality can be achieved through advances that defies tradition or societal norms. This lecture expresses the same type of struggle for equality as Women’s Soccer in the United States and The Netherlands does.

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