Freedom wins World Cup for America

United States' Megan Rapinoe , center left, celebrates with teammates their victory in the Women's World Cup final soccer match between US and The Netherlands at the Stade de Lyon in Decines, outside Lyon, France, Sunday, July 7, 2019. US won 2:0. (AP Photo/David Vincent)

Megan Rapinoe’s strength lies in her fierce athletic prowess, of course, and also in her oh-so-American ability to speak clear-eyed truth, especially to power.

In response to questions about what she wanted after leading the U.S. women’s soccer team to its second consecutive and fourth overall Women’s World Cup title Sunday in France, she said, “It’s to stop having the conversation about equal pay and are we worth it,” she said.

Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence we Americans just celebrated with spectacular displays of exploding color and light, music, shared food and fellowship, called this truth self-evident, that all men are created equal. But for long years that has been neither true nor self-evident for Americans of so many stripes, especially women.

They, instead, in a long, difficult history of witness, struggle and displays of excellence have had to make the case on the streets, in homes, schools, factory floors, courtrooms, offices and playing fields for equal access, authority, agency and voice — all so as to pursue their lives, liberties and happiness in freedom.

With the centennial of women’s suffrage upon us, we’ve been celebrating Erie women who were among the first in the state to march more than 100 years ago for women’s right to cast a vote and shape the government that shaped their lives.

Rapinoe and her teammates — who danced across the field nimbly in play that seemed both elegant and effortless but was doubtless more a display of fierce endurance, intelligence and agility — are new members of that lineage of progress for women.

Separate from any political or legal consideration, they, in their sheer excellence, ability and teamwork, set examples for young women athletes for generations to come. In the four-week tournament run-up to the 2-0 final match win over the Netherlands, they scored 26 goals and gave up only three.

But their fine play came amid and mightily bolstered a forthright ask for fair-dealing from their bosses, the U.S. Soccer Federation: pay and working conditions that are equal to the U.S. men who play soccer — less winningly, by the way, than them.

That request, made in a lawsuit claiming gender discrimination filed three months before the World Cup, should be honored, World Cup win or no. The women should not have to ask. But a glance at headlines crowding news of their win — powerful men accused of base abuses against women and girls, court decisions and new laws that seek to relitigate what rights women have to privacy and their own bodies — tells us women’s work is not done and in answer to Rapinoe’s wish, yes, they are worth it.

— The Erie Times-News