When the U.S. Women’s National Team lost in the quarterfinals of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, there was a celebration in American conservative circles that seemed strange.
Why was such a large group of Americans rooting against an American squad of women who had been so successful for so long?
Megan Rapinoe, who retired from the USWNT following the disappointing loss, thinks that there’s a backlash against women in America, especially those who are willing to speak up about important issues.
“It was really disappointing—and the speed with which those comments got into the atmosphere,” Rapinoe told The Atlantic in a new interview. “Everybody on the right—and everybody who was using hateful language and these tropes—it’s like they have just been waiting since, I don’t know, 2016? 2019? They’ve been waiting for this team to stumble. But when we are perfect, then we are accused of thinking that we’re perfect.
“Really, what’s happening is that the right wing wants this to be true: They want women to believe that you can’t fight for things and be excellent; you can’t ask for what you deserve and be successful. But the reality is, we’re doing that. Beyoncé is doing that. Taylor Swift is doing that. Coco Gauff is doing that. We are still great on the field, and we’re fighting for equality, and it’s better for our bottom line and the sport’s.
“One thing that America does really well is backlash. I think there’s a huge backlash against women happening right now.
“I think we see that with the overturning of Roe v. Wade. We’re seeing that with the trans argument in sports. Does Alexi [Lalas] know exactly what he’s saying? If I was saying stuff that anchors on Fox News are also saying … I would be worried about the cosign.”
Rapinoe, who has been a champion of progressive and LGBTQ+ causes throughout her career, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2022 from President Joe Biden.