Maria Hill, SHIELD, Coulson

The Inequality Issue: The Fissures Crack

Cliffs of Insanity Featured GeekMom
Maria Hill, SHIELD, Coulson
Look! They put a women in a Marvel set! This is a Toys R Us exclusive. Photo by Corrina Lawson

Welcome back to my adventures in climbing the Cliffs of Insanity. I’ve taken a break to get our new Geek Speaks..Fiction! column going and to finish my latest book. (It is finished but it’s not a truck draft yet. Meaning, if I get hit by a truck, it’s not yet publishable. Writers think of these things.)

I wanted to start the column by congratulating the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team for winning the World Cup, but then I became depressed reading about the treatment of the team from their parent organization. (To be fair, FIFA is doing lousy things on the men’s side too.)

After looking into this, I realize there is a correlation between FIFA basically finding the Women’s World Cup invisible and women in general being invisible, even when there’s clear proof that female consumers exist. But signs of hope exist too.

Take the Women’s World Cup.

On the one hand, you have the final audience of 25.4 million in the United States, the most watched soccer game in United States history.  Those viewing numbers were higher than the NBA’s Game 6, the championship finale.

For a full comparison, see this chart.

And you have Carli Lloyd of the United States with the most amazing, incredible shot, perhaps the most incredible ever, in any World’s Cup.

I wanted to revel in these accomplishments but, alas, ESPN didn’t seem that interested. I expected the same kind of wall to wall coverage as on the NBA championship and, yet, found soccer an afterthought. I wish I had a study of the minutes of the Men’s World Cup team versus the Women’s World Cup on ESPN, but I definitely found it harder to even look up the starting time of the women’s games or coverage of the interviews. I wanted Lloyd’s kick to be featured as much as Odell Beckham Jr.’s one-handed catch last year but, alas not.

Then, of course, there was the ridiculous interview later in the week on ESPN where three women’s team members were asked about being “inspirational” for the young girls watching soccer out there. Hey, ESPN, that was the 1999 champions. This team don’t have to “inspire” girls in that way, soccer is already thriving. (See ratings, above.)

How about treating them like athletes and asking about the plays, and the team, and whatever else you ask the winners of the NBA finals? I can bet you didn’t ask them if they felt a need to grow their sport because, hey, the popularity is self-evident.

Except they were beat out in the ratings race by a bunch of women.

But, hey, the official England Twitter account for the England’s women’s team beat that ridiculous interview. In a tweet that was quickly deleted but screencapped before it could disappear, England welcomed their players, who received third place, home in the worst way possible:

Image via Twitter
Image via Twitter

Can you imagine a male team being welcomed home as fathers, brothers, and partners?

Okay, probably not partners. That’s because there aren’t any openly gay members of the major male soccer teams. (Besides, they should be spouses, yes?)

Yet in the aftermath of America’s victory, team stalwart Abby Wambach ran over and kissed her wife, a moment captured and sent around the world.

I don’t think we’ll see that on the men’s side. That’s depressing.

Then there’s FIFA.

Not only does FIFA pay the women a pittance compared to the men, but FIFA doesn’t even *break down* the revenue brought in by the women’s team. So there’s no way to know how much FIFA made from the Women’s World Cup, no way to track if the suggestion that the women are paid less because the television revenue isn’t there.

It’s frustrating.

It’s as if the women have to prove over and over again that they can draw ratings, as if it’s never happened before. It’s like the only recently dropped insistence of the major comic book companies that women don’t buy comics. Well, until you make a comic that treats them like people and then…they do. See Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, Spider-Gwen, Batgirl, Gotham Academy, and Harley Quinn.

Thank you Marvel and DC. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, you’re proof that perhaps comic companies will do the right thing but only when they have exhausted every other option.

It’s like Hollywood’s insistence that women-led movies don’t make enough money but, wait, there’s Pitch Perfect II and Mad Max doing well.


In honor of this sudden move away from invisibility,  I have a few toasts!

Here’s the the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team.

Here’s to the United States attorney’s office and their (hopefully) coming indictment of FIFA head Sepp Blatter.

Here’s to Image, for responding to complaints about diversity in their lineup by adding Black Magick, written by Greg Rucka and drawn by Nicola Scott, Crosswind, written Gail Simone and drawn by Cat Staggs, and for other series featuring the talent of women, like Bitch Planet and Shutter.

Here’s to DC Collectibles, whose action figures of Batman: The Animated Series include Batgirl, Zatanna, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn.

Here’s to DC for the damn fine Midnighter comic, the first with a gay male lead. (Now, DC, can you bring back Batwoman and fix here? Where’s the marriage of Kate Kane and Maggie Sawyer!)

Here’s to the crowds of women showing up at Comic Con International in San Diego this week, bringing the attendees to a nearly 50/50 gender split.

Here’s to the coming contest between Hilary Clinton and Bernie Sanders being about the issues, not the fact a woman is running for president.

Perhaps the world is changing, as the formerly invisible become visible all over the spectrum.

White House lit up in celebration of the Supreme Court's legalization of gay marriage, image via The White House.
White House lit up in celebration of the Supreme Court’s legalization of gay marriage, image via The White House.


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