For the last month my life has been full to overfull of women (and men!) gushing over other women. A lot of that space has been taken up by the US Women’s National Soccer Team and their World Cup journey. And while the UWWNT team shone, sparkly and bright, one woman repeatedly stood out, the unwitting object of the type of fan-girling usually reserved for K-pop mad tweens. But it’s not just young soccer fans going ga-ga over Megan Rapinoe, it’s grown-ass women as well.
I’m not sure if Megan Rapinoe and her pink hair could have come along at a better time, fully sprung from the head of Athena herself. Like a cool weather front, she swept in and pushed out the stale, humid air that’s been hovering above me. A penalty-kicking, balling wizard gale that blustered back the clouds, allowing a moment of joyous sunshine. Not only did I get a much-needed lung full of clean air, I remembered just how sweet it tastes.
So what is it about Megan Rapinoe? I mean the woman is now solidly implanted as the object of middle-aged straight woman crushes–women who care not a whit for sport, who don’t like cussing or tattoos. What is it about her that so many women find endearing, enamoring, engrossing?
What? I’ll tell you.
She’s the larger than life embodiment of the woman so many of us have within–the ones we often force to stay hidden and quiet.
She’s the larger than life embodiment of the woman so many of us have within–the one we often force to stay hidden and quiet. The one we convince ourselves isn’t good enough– even when she is. The one we caution to stay silent and still when someone says something shitty, out of fear or conditioning or reluctance to confront. Because that’s not what nice girls do, is it? Nice girls don’t confront. Nice girls don’t demand recognition for their accomplishments, even when they’re warranted.
Rapinoe? She’s strong, outspoken, confident, talented. She knows exactly how much she is worth, of what she’s capable of. Not only does she expect to be recognized for that, she demands it.
And she does all of this while being unapologetically female in a realm that has been held sacred for men: sport. She doesn’t want to be a man, play against men, or compare herself to them. Why would she? She doesn’t want to be recognized for being great at something that men do. She wants to be recognized and celebrated for what Megan Rapinoe and the girls and women who play football do.
In short, she’s the type of woman that society has repeatedly told women NOT to be.
So of course people hate her. Oh, they find plenty of reasons why, but underneath it all it’s because she’s upended the idea of what girls are supposed to be like to succeed.
She’s arrogant, a braggart, full of herself. She should do this, or that, or conduct herself in some other way. Make no mistake, there will always be some other way. Always. In the manual for how a woman must be or act or dress or sound or live in order to succeed, be admired, be loved even, new pages are printed every second.
In the manual for how a woman must be in order to succeed, be admired, be loved even, new pages are printed every second.
She’s not soft. She’s not pliable and pliant. She’s not….nice.
You know what nice girls get in this world? Sweet fuck all.
Oh my God I’m endlessly tired of listening to society whispering and shouting at young girls to act like ladies, to be nice, to put the comfort of those around them above their own–to put the comfort of others above their own safety, even. And here come Megan Rapinoe, blowing that bullshit out of the water with her hot-pink hair and her megawatt smile, singing, dancing and penalty kicking her unapologetic way into our lives, taking JOY in what she does.
It is GLORIOUS. It is MAGICAL. It is just what I’ve been waiting for. And like a craving I didn’t know I had until I tasted something, I want more.
Rapinoe takes up space, from her ideas to her politics to her words to the very way she throws her arms out to the side and demands we LOOK AT HER. And we do. We look at her and drink her in and love her and hate her and want to be her. She is unafraid of putting herself in full view–on the field, on the screen. There is so much LIFE in her it’s like she splitting at the seams of her own skin.
I adore it. All of it.
I can’t get enough of her or her teammates.
In one, now iconic gesture, she’s upended the conversation–that arms thrown open stance that says “behold, I’m here, taking up space–and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
I want to take up space. I want to fling my arms to the side and say LOOK AT ME. I am here. I am worthy. I exist and I will not let you dictate how I must be.
She doesn’t care if you find her sexy because she doesn’t find you sexy either. Her value in this world is not calculated on how many men find her bed-able. She doesn’t care if you like her or not. She doesn’t need your permission, your validation, your stamp of legitimacy.
And that? That unapologetic woman, taking up space, demanding recognition? That is the most dangerous type of woman there is.
And I for one, am here for it.