The USWNT Broke Records and Stole Our Hearts. Will It Boost Their Legal Case?

5min read

With one fight down and another one left to go, the US Women's Soccer Team has officially won the World Cup. Yet their battle for wage equality rages on. Only now, they have crowds of fans chanting"equal pay" to back them up.

On March 8th, when the USWNT filed its suit against US Soccer, it was already an intense period for the whole team: weeks before their next training camp and only a few months from their first World Cup match. For most people, this would not be an ideal time to begin a lengthy legal battle, but there would be no more waiting for this team. Alex Morgan spoke to the New York Times and stated, "We don't always want to be patient, you have to seize the moment." Female patience is overrated and, often, undeserved, so it's refreshing to see these women ready to throw down when the time is right for them. However this timing also meant that the lawsuit became unintentionally, inextricably linked to their performance in the World Cup. And we all know how that ended…

Fucking remarkably.

With this victory, the USWNT has further solidified themselves in the hearts of fans and novices alike. They've broken records, beat out all of their competition and generated some seriously top tier memes. This win (and their entire performance) may have thematically supported their claim to higher wages, but team pride only goes so far. What do the numbers really look like and what does this mean for the larger issue of pay inequality for all women?

For those not steeped in knowledge of how athletes make money (as I was before this entire debacle began playing out), here's the skinny. First and foremost, the issue is complicated because of varied revenue streams and some imprecise statistics, as well as the fact that the men and women teams' wages have different structures. The USWNT earn a base salary while the USMNT do not, but the men earn large bonuses even on matches they lose. Both the men and women earn victory bonuses, but the men's are significantly higher than the women's. Additionally, bonuses are available for merchandising, match attendance and specific tournaments, which are completely variable. Despite the complicated nature of this issue, the suit has broken it down into sample scenarios where no matter how you slice it, the women earn less for better work. Some people are happy to accept that the women's team earn less money because there are fewer fans; people don't show up in frenzied droves to attend their games like the men's. But if the real problem is money made versus money paid, then it's easy math.

It's important to note that the World Cup prize money, though similarly discriminatory in its paltry amount, is not considered in this suit, because the suit is against US Soccer, and FIFA is the organization that collects and disseminates World Cup money. US Soccer does claim to base many of their financial decisions on the practices of FIFA, but the two are technically separate entities. And one giant corporation falling in line with another, does not excuse the behavior. So winning the World Cup doesn't technically impact the lawsuit at all, but it certainly looks worse for US Soccer to find the literal champions of the world (two times in a row, I might add) unworthy of equal pay. Especially considering the USNMT's comparatively, ahem, pathetic performance.

FIFA and USSF are both structures that are deeply entrenched in masculine ideals, systematic sexism and the failings of capitalism. We are raised to believe that capitalism is a meritocracy, if you work hard you'll make more money and be more successful. But looking at the pay and performance of the USWNT, merit has nothing to do with it. Because if it was about who was better, these women would be making a hell of a lot more. So what these women are fighting for with this legal battle and what winning the world cup is getting them one step closer to, is money, yes, but it's also respect. Because in our world, the two are often one and the same.

Because if it was about who was better, these women would be making a hell of a lot more. So what these women are fighting for with this legal battle and what winning the world cup is getting them one step closer to, is money, yes, but it's also respect.

According to Megan Rapinoe, it's about "Not just blindly throwing cash at things, but investing in infrastructure, in training programs or academies for women, in coaching for women. All of it. I don't think you, sort of, get to the point of having an incredible business by running it on a budget that's a dollar more than it was last year. You have to make big up-front investments and really bet on the future. I think that the women's game has proved time and time again, World Cup after World Cup, year after year that we're worthy of the investment. The quality on the field and the product on the field is there, and we just sort of need that business step to be in line in terms of all the steps we are making on the field in terms of performance. So for me, I always say that, it's always money."

The USWNT's World Cup performance parallels their legal battle in a powerful way, their success and their popularity both underscore the justification for earning more. It has been thrilling to watch our country's team revel in their success and hard work, thrilling in a way that I have never before experienced as an American woman. This World Cup has made lifelong fans out of people who never looked twice at a soccer ball before and it is that kind of commanding respect that the USWNT wholly embody. Although it looks as though their lawsuit may just end in mediation, the impact that their stellar World Cup run has had will be indelible on the USWNT's history as well as pay discrimination at large simply because of what it symbolizes. This victory represents what we ladies may already know but that the world (and the USSF) needs to be reminded of: women kick ass. And it's time we got paid for it.

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Patriarchy Stress Disorder is A Real Thing and this Psychologist Is Helping Women Overcome It

For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.

As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.

Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.

What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.

Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein

This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.

Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.

While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.

"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.

Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.

In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.

"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."