Today’s post is brought to you by Costa Rican soccer superstar Shirley Cruz. After Channel 7 sportscaster Ramón Luis Méndez informed the world on Sunday that “fútbol es de hombres” (“soccer is for men”) – he was arguing that it’s a contact sport, not for the faint of heart – Shirley posted this simple message over three posts:
Soccer isn’t “for men.” Soccer is a universal sport, for all genders. These types of phrases sully the work that many women have done for years to break down stereotypes…
For the people who say that a phrase like “Soccer is for men” isn’t machista: you never suffered when they yelled at us from the buses that passed by the back field at Sabana Park, telling us to stop wasting time and go home to wash dishes. We ask that parents support their soccer-playing daughters because even today there are girls who play soccer at school and the boys drive them away with these kinds of comments.
And no, we’re not being over sensitive, as this man says. Let’s not forget that television broadcasts reach the whole country. There are synonyms that could be used so as not to interfere with the progress of women’s soccer. We live in a machista country where many women are murdered each year.
This is my struggle and that of many women. We are not a hypersensitive generation. We are a generation that wants a change in the world.
Pretty awesome, and pretty darn straightforward, right?
Apparently, many found it quite shocking. I probably learned more about sexism in Costa Rica by reading the comments on Shirley’s posts than I have in the previous decade, and that’s saying a lot. Women and men alike had plenty to say: she’s oversensitive. She’s overdramatic. She’s being ridiculous because he wasn’t commenting on a women’s game – he was just saying soccer isn’t for wusses. She’s too impatient; it’s unrealistic to expect people to change so quickly. She should suck it up because you don’t see men getting upset when people say, “You’re playing like a girl in high heels” or “You’re a little princess.” (Umm, world: that’s also an insult against women. Not men.) The sportscaster himself, in filming a brief “apology,” remarked that some people are “a little too sensitive,” and it seems that many of his viewers agreed.
We have a long match still to play, and I’m so grateful to have a captain like this one. Thank you, Shirley, for sticking your neck out. While I might have been surprised by the vitriol you faced, I know who wasn’t surprised in the least: you. You’ve been facing this nonsense since you were playing pickup games on the back field at La Sabana. You knew exactly who was coming for you when you decided to speak out. You laced up your cleats anyway, knowing that in the end, you’ll outrun them all.
I’m a writer in San José, Costa Rica, on a year-long quest to share daily posts on inspiring people, places and ideas from my adopted home as a kind of tonic during a rough time in the world. Sign up (top right of this page) to receive a little dose of inspiration every weekday in your mailbox; tell a friend; check out past posts; and please connect with me on Instagram or Facebook! You can also find me churning out small, square poems on any topic under the sun (here on the site, on Instagram or Twitter).