As Usual When Gender Discrimination In Wages Is The Issue, There Is More To The Women’s Soccer Lawsuit Than The Media Wants You To Know

women's soccer

The gender wage discrimination issue makes my head start to hurt every time it is raised, which, I admit, has made me grateful that Hillary and Bernie have been concentrating on the other progressive issues they fill with half-truths and deceit. Some of those are the wealth gap, mass incarceration, the evil of big banks, discrimination against Muslims, trigger-happy police, campus sexual assault, climate change, gun violence  and the minimum wage. As with these pet progressive agenda items, it isn’t that there aren’t real problems there that require effective policy initiatives, but that advocates are so infuriatingly dishonest when debating them—exaggerating statistics, demonizing opponents, and persisting in using false facts, studies and myths long after they have been definitively disproved.

If the new media was competent and even-handed, challenging the false assertions as they should, this would not be such an impediment to rational debate. The news media is seldom objective, however. On all of these issues and more, it plays the role of advocate and partisan ally with depressing regularity. An activist on the keft has to make a truly outrageous statement to even be challenged, as when Black Lives Matter organizer Aaron Goggans suggested on CNN yesterday that black on black crime is a “myth.”

There is gender discrimination in wages; I have seen it up close, in my family and in companies and organizations I have worked for. I have personally taken action to address it. The issue is complicated, however, and not close to the absurd “77 cents on the dollar” figure that has been employed, unchanged and virtually unchallenged, for decades, nor is it fairly represented by studies that show how men in the same careers make more over their working lives than women.

Never mind; the news media allows the issue to be debated in an atmosphere dominated by misrepresentations. My reflex approach is that  until advocates for a position are willing to stop lying, spinning, and demonizing, I will pointedly avoid supporting them. Call it the Clean Hands Doctrine. Gun control is one example. Climate change is another.

When  five players on the U.S. Women’s Soccer team filed a federal complaint last week accusing U.S. Soccer of wage discrimination because, they said, they earned as little as 40% of what players on the United States men’s national team earned despite reaching the team’s third World Cup championship last year, I read and heard nothing but cheers from women’s advocates, Democrats, pundits and Facebook posters I also read nothing but sexist snorting from the conservative side. (“Wanna know how to get paid the same as men for playing soccer? Try out for the men’s team! HAR!” ). The truth, as usual, is somewhere in the middle, but you wouldn’t know that from reading most accounts or watching the news channels.

If one looks a bit deeper than the simple fact of the compensation numbers, it is apparent that this is a pretty typical example of what passes for gender discrimination in wages: an apples and oranges comparison that ignores informed and volitional choices made by women that led to a significant wage disparity.

It is true that the men’s soccer team has historically been mediocre, while the women’s team has regularly won world and Olympic championships, garnering brief but intense national attention. “The numbers speak for themselves,”  goalkeeper Hope Solo, one of the players to sign the complaint, told reporters. “We are the best in the world, have three World Cup championships, four Olympic championships.” Solo said the men’s players “get paid more to just show up than we get paid to win major championships.”

U.S. Soccer officials cite figures showing that the men’s national team produces revenue and attendance nearly twice that of the women’s team, and men’s soccer television ratings are far higher than those of the women. I don’t know whether those assertions stand up to scrutiny, but they make sense: the men are better soccer players than the women, and play tougher competition. Very few news reports on the law suit bothered to mention this rather obvious apples and oranges feature. As with golf, tennis, basketball…boxing!…the men’s version of the game and the women’s version are virtually different sports. That they both have “soccer” in their name automatically doesn’t make them “equal work.”

Michael LeRoy, who teaches collective bargaining and sports at the University of Illinois, told the New York Times that market conditions between the men’s and women’s sports are vastly different. “They have to prove equality of work and market conditions, and it’s such a rigid legal requirement,” LeRoy said of the women’s soccer players.

In a thorough and otherwise excellent New York Times report on the lawsuit, this information appeared a full 1,261 words into the article—1,261 words!—as if it was a footnote, when in fact it is material and typical of many instances of alleged wage bias:

“In response to the complaint filed Wednesday, U.S. Soccer argued that not only was the players’ pay collectively bargained, but that the players had insisted more than once on a salary-based system as a means of economic security over the bonus-centric plan the men work under. Russell Sauer, the outside counsel for the federation during labor talks, also said the women’s labor contract included provisions — severance and injury pay, health benefits and maternity leave, for example — not available to the men’s team.

“The truth is,” Sauer said, “the players are claiming discrimination based on a more conservative structure, based on guaranteed compensation rather than pay to play, which they themselves requested, negotiated and approved of not once, but twice.”

In other words, the women were not willing to take the risk the men do of basing more of their compensation on their success, and settled for a guaranteed amount—then, when they were successful, complained that the amount wasn’t enough. They also bargained for special features that the men did not view as important, and sacrificed more money in the negotiation process. If true, then the lawsuit is unethical: relying on stirring up public and political support while actually protesting the results of their own conservative bargaining strategy and blaming U.S. Soccer because the deal they negotiated turned out to be a poor one.

Now, maybe U.S. Soccer is spinning too. All of the parties have a record of being less than trustworthy—Hope Solo, for example. Nevertheless, this law suit should not be automatically regarded as a vindication for anti-wage discrimination activists or an act of courage and principle by the women. It may well be an example of what’s wrong with the whole wage discrimination narrative, and an exercise in blame-shifting and greed. We shall see.

Until we see, the news media is obligated to explain that the women are not automatically in the right just because they are crying bias and because they are women.


Pointer: Advice Goddess Blog


13 thoughts on “As Usual When Gender Discrimination In Wages Is The Issue, There Is More To The Women’s Soccer Lawsuit Than The Media Wants You To Know

  1. Isn’t the WNBA bitching about the same thing?

    It’s really simply, little ladies, when you draw the same crowd, and generate the same revenue than you’ll make the same amount of money as the men. As it stands now, women’s sports are nothing more than a side show for lesbains.

    Great news! My cousin just got a full ride for volley ball, Cuz that’s a thing. I’m sure she’ll pack the arena. Gia bless Title 9.

    • Interesting. And, an excellent example of the attitude that provides a basis for the perception of bias in the first place. Also, the only factual part of the comment is the revenue part. However, this comment could be an excellent teaching tool for that idiot church…I’m drawing a complete blank on the name…that demonstrates at veterans funerals.

      • Wrong.

        Let me make it really simple for you.
        NBA earns more than WNBA. That is why NBA players earn more than their lesbian posers. If the lesbo poser start bringing in the same money as the NBA, then they will be equal and entitled to equal compensation.

        Or, better yet, since we’re all equal and shit, let the WNBA play against the NBA. I’m sure it’ll be nail biting.

          • Fuck brah,

            I have no idea what your first paragraph means. Save the Greek for your community college class.

            I stand by everything that I’ve said. The NBA makes more money than the WNBA– which is why the NBA players earn more than lesbo poser– gotta problem with that assessment? well, let’s see. –the WNBA plays with a smaller ball, a lower hoop….and oh yea..and can not, will not compete against the men. But, most importantly, does not earn the same amount of cash. I’ve sure that is true off all sports– lil ladies simply can’t compete…cuz sesxizz,”

            Keep in mind that I cannot care less about men who play with balls for a living.

            So go ahead, Mr. ethics. Delete my commit. But have the balls to explain why.

            Kindest of all regards,

            • 1. Ixnay on the amecallingnay and eapchay ereotypingstay. Translation: Nix on the namecalling and stereotyping. It’s pig latin. Oh, god, is this something else that is vanishing from the culture?

              2.Gratuitous insults to your host get you banned. Which you are. For the record, my community college was Harvard College. And my guests don’t get to tell be how to express myself, dick head.

              3.I’m not going to delete your comment. I would have deleted it if I was going to let you try again, which I’m not.

              4. There’s no justification for the gratuitous vulgarity, hostility, disrespect, name-calling and misogyny that this and other comments of yours exhibit, and I don’t want boors and jerks polluting the discussion here? Clear?

              (That’s a rhetorical question, because your ID has been banned, and if you try to post, it may stay for a few minutes but will eventually go away, as will you. Find a therapist. I mean it.)

              • ALERT! As I’m sure will come as no surprise, the jerk known as Not Today is hereby banned for the reasons stated above. He will not be welcome henceforth, not today, not tomorrow, not ever.

        • “NBA earns more than WNBA. That is why NBA players earn more than their lesbian posers. If the lesbo poser start bringing in the same money as the NBA, then they will be equal and entitled to equal compensation”

          Let me make it even simpler for you, since you do not seem to understand the word ‘revenue’. This means the money a league or team makes from ticket sales, endorsements, etc. Without the revenue, salaries will stay low. Which you apparently agree with. As far as the NBA playing the WNBA, to quote a reformed prostitute I once knew “Size matters”.

          • “Without the revenue, salaries will stay low. Which you apparently agree with.”


            What are you saying?

            The lesbians* of the WNBA do not bring in nearly the amount of cash as the mandangos of ther NBA. This is an untenable fact. So do you agree the the dykes do not deserve what the men make or are you crying “patriarchy”?

            *Earlier this month, a TMZ employee parroted a broad — and incredibly annoying — statement, originating from a 2006 article in The Seattle Times, that 40 percent of people involved with the WNBA (aka staff, players, coaches) are “believed to be lesbians.”

            Source: Google motherfucker

            • Even if what people “believe” to be true had any probative value, which it doesn’t, when a group is 40% a certain quality, it makes no sense to categorize the whole group that way. In fact, if a logical, unbigoted, reasonable person has to refer to a group as one or the other, the choice would have to be “non-lesbians,” since 60% are “believed” to fit that description.

              Or are you arguing that only the lesbians should be compensated according to revenue? THAT hardly seems fair…

  2. Why don’t the women soccer players just hold out the way NFL players do when it turns out ownership got a deal on the contract the players willingly signed. That’s the usual unethical route. Going to court is kind of strange. If the women fail to win another title, will they give some of their pay back?

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