The USWNT and Female Empowerment

By | March 2, 2019

In reading both The Country of Football: Soccer and the Making of Modern Brazil and Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football, it is clear that the culture of a region is one of the factors that can impact a team’s style of soccer.  Kittleson discusses and draws connections between the Brazilian Carnaval culture and the dance-like creativity of their futebol arte flair.  David Winner explains that the Dutch ‘total’ mindset put a societal emphasis on free-flowing interaction between people and their environment, and this manifested in the fluid play and positionless formation of the Ajax team.

During our last class discussion, we briefly touched on whether or not this reflection of culture in soccer was universally evident.  It was brought up that earlier this semester, Patrick Donley did a statistical analysis of to determine the extent to which different societal factors can predict the strength of the country’s women’s soccer team; based on his data, the greatest indicator was female empowerment.  Although I initially found these results to be slightly surprising, our recent readings and the U.S. women’s national team’s choice of uniform for their most recent game solidified the connection in my mind.

The players of the U.S. women’s national team have imposed a certain responsibility upon themselves to use their platform generally to advocate for equality in society.  The Americans are currently hosting the fourth annual version of a tournament called the She Believes Cup. The slogan “she believes” was created for a promotional campaign designed to inspire young girls to strive to accomplish their goals in all facets of their lives.  This year, the competition has coincided with the beginning of Women’s History Month, and the U.S. women decided to honor this synchrony with an even larger statement. For their game against England, each player chose to wear the name of a woman that has inspired them, in place of her own name, on her jersey.  U.S. Soccer tweeted that it was all about “women supporting women”; the basis of this movement, viewed alongside Patrick Donley’s research, with the ideas of Kittleson and Winner in mind, suggests that the U.S. team is slated to be stronger than ever at the World Cup this summer.

U.S. Soccer posted an article in which each player explains their inspirational woman of choice.

One thought on “The USWNT and Female Empowerment

  1. Laurent Dubois

    Thanks Julia. I thought this gesture by the women’s team was particularly powerful, and really unlike any thing I’ve seen before in football. It was particularly great to see the different figures each player chose. Rapinoe repping the name of Audre Lorde was particularly powerful, as many people commented on twitter: This builds on other forms of activism, particularly around LGBQT issues, by the team. It will be interesting to see how the team will use their biggest platform yet, the 2019 Women’s World Cup, to continue to do this kind of work.


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