Keeping Score: Paralympic Medalists Achieve Equal Pay; U.S. Women’s Soccer Gets Support From Men’s Team in Equal Pay Lawsuit; Bipartisan Jan. 6 Investigation Begins

In every issue of Ms., we track research on our progress in the fight for equality, catalogue can’t-miss quotes from feminist voices and keep tabs on the feminist movement’s many milestones. We’re Keeping Score online, too—in in this biweekly round-up.


Clockwise from top left: Argentinian president Alberto Fernández issues first national IDs with gender neutral markers to non-binary residents (Instagram); Team U.S.A. fencers wear pink masks in support of sexual assault survivors (Twitter / Ibtihaj Muhammad); Simone Biles and Sunisa Lee celebrate Team U.S.A.’s silver medal win in women’s gymnastics (Instagram / Simone Biles); Norwegian handball players protest sport guidelines that require women to wear bikini bottoms while competing (Instagram).

Lest We Forget

“I think from a very young age you’re taught that your self-worth and how you feel should reflect what your coach thinks of you. If I take a turn and think I did a good job, but my coach says I did a bad job, I’m going to then think that what I felt was wrong. I’m just going to listen to my coach. That can be a hard way to grow up, thinking that everything I do needs approval from the adults around me.

I just think that the culture of the sport needs to change. It’s been normalized for this long. That’s why a lot of athletes don’t recognize when something bad is happening, because when it’s happening to your teammates or your friends it’s hard to recognize that it isn’t normal. Sometimes athletes don’t know how bad it is until they start going into normal life and they see how they can be treated so much better.”

—Aly Raisman in an interview with The New Yorker on the past, present and future of U.S. gymnastics.

“COVID-19 has upended the finances of families across the country and led to severe job loss, especially in sectors like child care that disproportionately employ women, particularly women of color. Even before this pandemic, women in America typically had less money saved for retirement, in part because they were paid less than their male counterparts for the same work throughout their careers. Inequities, like investments, compound over time—which is why it is so critical we take action now to address how this pandemic and other challenges are undermining women’s financial futures.

—Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) on reintroducing the Women’s Retirement Protection Act (WRPA) with Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.). The act would expand retirement plan benefits and eligibility, as current guidelines disproportionately disadvantage women.

“The United States Soccer Federation markets the United States Men’s and Women’s National Teams under the slogan, ‘One Nation. One Team.’ But for more than 30 years, the Federation has treated the Women’s National Team players as second-class citizens, discriminating against the women in their wages and working conditions and paying them less than the Men’s National Team players, even as U.S. Soccer has enjoyed a period of extraordinary financial growth. The Federation has never offered or provided equal pay to the women, and the district court’s holding to the contrary cannot be squared with the facts.”

—An amicus brief filed by U.S. National Soccer Team Players Association (USNSTPA), representing the U.S. men’s soccer team. The brief offers support to the U.S. women’s team in their equal pay lawsuit against U.S. Soccer.

“Over the next year the American people will commemorate the 50th anniversary of Title IX. This landmark legislation enacted in 1972 prohibits sex-based discrimination in any school or other education program or activity that receives Federal financial assistance.

Nevertheless, we are perplexed as to why in 2021 it is necessary that we write you to express our concerns about recent events that demonstrate the inequities women in intercollegiate athletics continue to face. … We request the NCAA share with the public and Congress the Kaplan report in its entirety and discuss with Congress how the NCAA, the NCAA national office leadership, and NCAA member institutions plan to rectify these inequities and the system that continues to allow them to occur.”

—An open letter to the president of the NCAA signed by over 70 members of Congress, in response to drastic disparities in resources at a recent NCAA basketball tournament.

“Jan. 6 was supposed to be about the peaceful transfer of power after an election, a hallmark of democracy and our American tradition. The rioters went to the Capitol that day to obstruct this solemn action — and nearly succeeded while defacing and looting the halls of the Capitol in the process. The committee will provide the definitive accounting of one of the darkest days in our history. Armed with answers, we hope to identify actions that Congress and the executive branch can take to help ensure that it never happens again.”

—Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) on the bipartisan Select Committee on the January 6th attack on the United States Capitol, which began its work on Tuesday, July 27.

Milestones

+ The Tokyo Olympics mark the first time Team U.S.A. Paralympic athletes have been equally compensated for their accomplishments, having previously received just $7,500 for gold, $5,250 for silver and $3,750 for bronze medals. This year, they’ll be paid 400 percent more in order to match the rewards given to Olympic athletes.

+ Protesting sexist uniform restrictions enforced by the International Handball Federation, Norway’s women’s beach handball team wore shorts to compete against Spain on Sunday, July 18, rather than bikini bottoms. They were penalized by the Disciplinary Commission with a 1,500-euro fine, which singer Pink has offered to pay.

+ Meanwhile, the German women’s gymnastics team took a stance against the sexualization of women gymnasts, competing in the Tokyo Olympics wearing ankle-length unitards rather than leotards.

+ The U.S.A. men’s fencing team also took a stand, wearing pink masks in support of sexual assault victims, while their teammate Alen Hadzic wore a black one to compete. Hadzic has been accused of sexual misconduct by three female fencers, and was not permitted to fly nor stay in the Olympic Village with his teammates.

+ Renowned U.S. gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from several Olympic events in the first week of the Games, citing the threat that competing poses to her mental and physical well-being. In her absence, Sunisa “Suni” Lee—an 18-year-old, first-time Olympian—won gold in the women’s individual all-around competition, becoming the first Hmong American to bring home an Olympic medal.

+ Women’s rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul was named the 2021 Trailblazer award recipient by the International Civil Rights Center & Museum for her feminist advocacy in Saudi Arabia. She was arrested in May 2018 and served more than 1,000 days in prison, with claims of torture and sexual harassment during her detention, until she was released on probation in February 2021.

+ A proposed settlement with U.S. drugmakers and distributors—including Johnson & Johnson, McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen—would collect a total of $26 billion for their fueling of the deadly U.S. opioid crisis. The deal was unveiled by state attorney generals on Wednesday, July 21.

+ In a ceremony held by President Alberto Fernández on Wednesday, July 21, Argentina became the first Latin American country to issue gender neutral IDs. “We have the need to expand our minds and realize that there are other ways to love and be loved and there are other identities besides the identity of man and the identity of woman,” Fernández said. “And they must be respected.”


+ Nearly five months after eight people—primarily Asian American women—were fatally shot in Atlanta-area spas, the man responsible has pled guilty to four murder charges.
Robert Aaron Long faces four life sentences without parole in Cherokee County, and an additional prosecutor continues to pursue the death penalty and a hate-crime sentence penalty in Fulton County.

+ A new rewrite of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would, if passed, require women to register for the Selective Service when they turn 18. Current U.S. law already requires men to register or risk being fined or denied jobs. The Senate Democrats’ bill has already passed in Committee.

How We’re Doing

+ Hit hard by a “she-cession” during the COVID-19 pandemic and having lost far more jobs than men, women are also recovering more slowly their male coworkers. The International Labor Organization (ILO) reported that compared to 2019, 13 million fewer women will be in the workforce in 2021.

+ In July, The Dallas Morning News and The Houston Chronicle—two of the 20 largest newsrooms in the U.S.—appointed women as their newest executive editors. The result? The majority of editors running the top 20 U.S. newsrooms are now women and people of color.

+ Climate-related disasters in the first six months of 2021 cost the U.S. $8 billion, according to NOAA‘s National Centers for Environmental Information, culminating in the nation’s hottest June ever recorded. The previous record was set in June 2016, when the average temperature increased 3.3 degrees F. This year, the average temperature was 0.9 degrees higher at 72.6 degrees F.

+ More than 6,400 people have lost their lives to police violence since 2015, according to an analysis by The Washington Post. That averages out to almost three fatal shootings each day, and a thousand per year.

+ A Swedish analysis found that men are responsible for 16 percent more climate emissions than women, despite spending similar amounts. Men are more likely to spend money on vacations and transportation, therefore producing high levels of greenhouse gases, whereas women top men in emissions from food, furnishings and health care.

+ A survey of women voters found economic recovery to be a top concern as the Biden administration reaches its six-month mark, in addition to lowering health care costs. “Forty-three percent of the women said they trusted Democrats more than Republicans to lower health care costs, and 18 percent trusted Republicans more,” The 19th reports. Women voters’ opinions on Democrats’ handling of pandemic recovery will be a key factor in the results of the 2022 midterm elections.

+ COVID-19 is changing the workplace culture surrounding illness. A survey of 1,000 working Americans found that over half of respondents (51 percent) are less likely to go to work while sick than they were before the pandemic. For those that do go to work ill, needing money was the most commonly cited reason.

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About

Sophie Dorf-Kamienny is a freshman at Tufts University. She was a Ms. editorial fellow and assistant editor of social media. You can find her on Twitter at @sophie_dk_.