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    The Outrageous and Rampant Gender Discrimination in Women’s Soccer

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    When the U.S. women beat Japan in the Women’s World Cup in Vancouver this past July 6, a new can of worms opened in gender discrimination claims against FIFA. The international ruling body has said numerous times that gender discrimination claims are nonsense. Let’s see some of that nonsense.

    The Godfather
    In 2004, FIFA president Sepp Blatter said that women of soccer should wear more feminine clothes, “tighter shorts . . . a more female aesthetic.” And then, in 2012, the self-proclaimed “godfather” of women’s soccer didn’t recognize Alex Morgan at an awards ceremony, even though she was the U.S. Soccer Player-of-the-Year and FIFA Player-of-the-Year finalist.

    Senior Executives
    FIFA excludes women from senior administrative positions. A CNN report from last year uncovered systematic exclusion of women from FIFA leadership roles. Three women resigned from the International Governance Committee, one of which cited that she was told to stop recommending women for leadership roles.

    Turf Wars
    Last year, a gender discrimination suit was filed by 84 female soccer stars over the “turf wars” regarding the decision to have the Women’s World Cup played on artificial turf, despite the fact that the Men’s World Cup has always been played on grass. FIFA did not take the accusation seriously and ultimately the ladies had no time to wait for a lawsuit to go through without jeopardizing the entire cup. In order to not jeopardize the tournament being played at all, they were forced to drop the suit.

    FIFA’s numerous outrageous claims began with the statement that artificial turf poses no serious health risk and is “the future” of soccer. The proposed lawsuit, in line with conventional wisdom in every other sport, argued that the “surface is widely recognized as inferior in international soccer” and comes with numerous health risks. Then, FIFA made a decision in the aftermath of the dropped suit to replace the BC Place turf with “newer better turf.” In other words, FIFA planned for the pre-eminent women’s soccer event to be played on substandard turf up until the controversial threatened lawsuit.

    A third appalling, and lesser told, part of the shelved lawsuit was FIFA threatening players with retaliation of suspensions for bringing up the grievance.

    A fourth absurdity, FIFA refused to ever discuss the situation, claiming that they “had not been served papers” and were not even aware of the lawsuit. That’s as if to say that, since they weren’t served papers, they weren’t aware of the issue or grievance to be able to address it at all. Well, they did address the issue enough to call it “nonsense.” So much for transparency.

    How much weight do any FIFA claims hold in light of such behavior?

    Last year, one of the few Blatter fans, New Zealand columnist Chris Rattue, asserted that women are genetically inferior and should have different playing surfaces, among many sexist attitudes. Such claims about genetics are frequently made, albeit somewhat controversially. It doesn’t take a doctor or physicist, much less a talking head, to figure out that men and women are different physiologically. To that end, however, even CDC and WHO give equal gender treatment in not assigning differences of overweight threshold or body mass index between men and women.

    There’s little point in giving any rebuttal to Rattue’s comments when even his truest statement is completely ridiculous. Discussing women’s physiques at all connotes marginalization. Statements like “top-level women’s football will never be as good to watch as top-level men’s football” certainly provided good fodder for the hilarious point by point rebuttal from ESPNW. Though the article was championed, the perplexing fact that there is such a thing as ESPNW could be considered discriminatory on its own accord.

    The War Intensifies
    So, the World Cup went on despite some drama, and it was all sunshine and roses. The U.S. was, again, amazingly successful, winning the cup for the third time. Shortly after, the clouds rolled in and the roses withered.

    The $2 million the women won this year created a furor when compared to last year’s German men’s team purse of $35 million. Pay differences extend to coaching as well. U.S. national women’s coach Jill Ellis makes $185,000-$210,000 annually, a not-so-subtle difference of less than 10% of the $2.5 million men’s coach Juergen Klinsmann makes.

    All the women’s teams that reached the World Cup received a combined total of $15 million, whereas the men’s teams that lost in the first round last year made $8 million each. Meanwhile, FIFA had $30 million to spend on a widely ridiculed, critical failure of a movie about their ruling class. FIFA also had money issues that resulted in the Justice Department bringing racketeering charges against nine FIFA officials, along with an FBI investigation of corruption in the awarding of host cities for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup. A lot of money to go around, yet the women seem to get none of it.

    To get even deeper, FIFA is not alone in extreme discrepancies. Women overall run 30 percent of the world’s businesses, but only 5 percent of the largest ones, even though the most successful businesses are run by women. As far as business is concerned, soccer remains the most glowing example of inequity, even outside of FIFA. Professional women players in the U.S. make $6,000 to $30,000 annually, while men make an average of $207,000. The men’s league minimum salary is $60,000, or double the maximum salary for women.

    Consider a few more mind-boggling statistics. The top earning male in the world, Ronaldo, makes $19 million per year (before endorsements and other activities that come with the benefit of being a well-marketed individual). Meanwhile, the top four highest paid women’s soccer players in the world make a combined $745,000 per year. That income gap is so horrifically high that even the occupations with notoriously big pay disparities, such as surgeons, are light years ahead of soccer.

    What’s more appalling, the problems of sexism in soccer worldwide have made U.S. problems seem minor. In the U.S., we have Title IX, while the rest of the world is not nearly as progressive. By comparison, some African nations use soccer to push the masculine dominance of society. People actually view women as a challenge to masculine authority and that has started a war of violent repercussions. Also, sexual exploitation and soccer have gone hand-in-hand recently. The South African sex trade was reported to be exploited in the 2010 World Cup and legal prostitution rings in Germany targeted World Cup 2006 sites with “sex huts.”

    Another weird twist to the timing of all this was that this past May, FIFA announced an updated task force of discrimination monitoring for review of all the qualifying teams for the 2018 World Cup. The article only refers to race, not gender, and no mention if FIFA uses their own system to check themselves. This August, presumably in response to criticism, FIFA created a task force dedicated to inclusion in terms of governance, competition, and business. That’s a dramatic turnaround from last month when FIFA declined to give equal treatment by not tweeting from the standard World Cup Twitter and only tweeted from the gender-specific account.

    Changing the Pattern
    FIFA’s claim on the pay gap is that it is based on the revenues received. Is the revenue for women’s soccer that bad? Well, women’s soccer has received little-to-no fan support and two professional leagues have folded already.

    Considering Rattue’s comments that no one watches women’s sports, maybe that’s because they’re relegated to being on ESPNW and don’t get nearly the lucrative television markets or news coverage. Starting with integrating media and giving primetime slots on the major networks, maybe women’s sports can be taken seriously.

    In 2014, women’s sports received 2-3% of media time, whereas in 1989, women received 5% of airtime even though women’s sports have grown drastically over the last 25 years. There is some hope that the World Cup victory will rejuvenate that market, however the U.S. women have already been hugely successful in every World Cup and the professional leagues have failed. Bluntly put, women’s soccer needs more equality in media exposure to change the culture or it will quickly become irrelevant again.

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    Daniel is a freelance writer and observationist, former English teacher and failed comedian. His interests include mindfulness, poverty, the environment and support for disenfranchised people worldwide. He is an ardent champion of terrestrial, freeform radio and a DJ at Radio Boise.

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    Employment

    Participant Launches Partnership Campaign to Support Domestic Workers Amid Covid-19 Crisis

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    Image owned by the National Domestic Workers Alliance

    Participant, the leading media company dedicated to entertainment that inspires audiences to engage in positive social change, launched the Care For The People Who Care For You campaign in partnership with the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) to galvanize support for domestic workers amid the novel coronavirus crisis. The digital initiative centers around a video, produced by Participant’s digital content studio, SoulPancake, to highlight the impact the COVID-19 crisis has had on domestic workers, of whom 7 out of 10 have lost 100% of their income because of the crisis, and seeks to educate employers on how to best support them.

    The video depicts the acute challenges that the pandemic has placed on domestic workers, who typically do not receive benefits like sick leave and thus far have been excluded from much of the government assistance packages. Told from the perspective of a domestic worker navigating health and financial concerns, the goal of the video is to educate and encourage employers to support those employees who care for them every day.

    Over the course of the Care For The People Who Care For You campaign, Participant will direct employers to the NDWA’s Employer Resource Hub, which outlines a range of steps one can take to offer both emotional and financial support, from calling and checking in to paying for cancelled services. Additionally, viewers can donate to NDWA’s Coronavirus Care Fund, a fund that will offer immediate emergency assistance for domestic workers facing hardship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Proceeds from the fund will be administered through ALIA, NDWA’s online benefits platform which allows employers to offer domestic workers a range of benefits they otherwise would not have access to, such as paid time off and sick leave.

    “We’re delighted to partner once again with Participant to bring attention to domestic workers in this time of crisis,” said Ai-jen Poo, executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. “Nannies, house cleaners, and home care workers across the country are facing tremendous challenges during this pandemic, from risking their health while working jobs on the frontline to losing income they need to support their own families. We urge employers to show care for those who have cared for them and their families.” 

    “During this uncertain time, it is critical to highlight the needs of and support the communities who are most impacted,” said David Linde, CEO of Participant. “We’re proud to continue our partnership with Ai-jen Poo and the entire team at the National Domestic Workers Alliance to bring awareness and for those who care for us and our families.”

    The new initiative is a continuation of Participant’s Roma social impact campaign, which launched alongside the Academy Award®-winning film ROMA,  to increase the visibility and value of domestic workers in popular culture and accelerate solutions to support their economic security. The new video is a reimagination of the initial spot SoulPancake created for NDWA, which promoted their online platform, ALIA, as a solution for providing domestic workers with benefits. The video, which received over 1.7 million views, generated a 98 percent increase in page views and a 905 percent increase in users on myalia.org.

    For more information on how to support this campaign, please visit here to learn more.

    About Participant

    Founded by Chairman Jeff Skoll and under the leadership of CEO David Linde, Participant combines the power of a good story well told with real world impact and awareness around today’s most vital issues. Through its worldwide network of traditional and digital distribution, aligned with partnerships with key non-profit and NGO organizations, Participant speaks directly to the rise of today’s “conscious consumer,” representing well over 2 billion consumers compelled to make meaningful content a priority focus.

    As an industry content leader, Participant annually produces up to six narrative feature films, five documentary films, three episodic television series, and more than 30 hours of digital short form programming, through its digital subsidiary SoulPancake. Participant’s more than 100 films have collectively earned 74 Academy Award® nominations and 19 wins, including Best Picture for Spotlight and Green Book and Best Foreign Language Film for Roma and A Fantastic Woman. Participant’s digital division, SoulPancake, is an award-winning provider of thought-provoking, joyful, and uplifting content that reaches an audience of more than 9 million fans.

    About National Domestic Workers Alliance

    National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) is the leading voice for dignity and fairness for millions of domestic workers in the United States. Founded in 2007, NDWA works for respect, recognition and inclusion in labor protections for domestic workers, the majority of whom are immigrants and women of color. NDWA is powered by 70 local affiliate organizations and chapters and by a growing membership of nannies, house cleaners and care workers across the nation. NDWA is home to Alia, an online platform to help domestic workers access benefits, and in 2019, launched a campaign to pass the National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, federal legislation sponsored by Senator Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal.

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    Culture

    How Being Kind to Others Make You Feel Better

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    You know that being kind to others is good for the recipient (obviously), but did you know that it’s also good for the giver, too? Yep, that’s right. Being kind to others will improve your mental, emotional and physical well-being. Here are six reasons that being kind to others makes you feel better, plus ideas for acts of kindness:

    It boosts your positive emotions.

    Being kind to others releases feel-good hormones like dopamine. Part of the brain’s reward system, these hormones make us feel happy and satisfied and are associated with pleasurable activities such as sex and eating good food. It also makes you more alert, focused and motivated, so being nice to a coworker could be the boost that you need to make it through a tough day at work.

    It lowers your stress levels.

    Helping others can create an emotional buffer that protects you from stressful events. One study of 77 adults found that those who reported higher-than-normal helping behaviors showed no dips in positive emotion or mental health, and they had lower increases in negative emotion in response to high daily stress. This is probably tied to the release of dopamine as well as the social connections that being kind creates.

    It helps you build relationships.

    Humans follow a behavior pattern called the norm of reciprocity, whereby we tend to reciprocate similar actions. If someone is kind to us, we’re inclined to be kind back—but if they’re mean, we’ll act in a similarly snippy way. Of course, no one follows the norm of reciprocity in all interactions, but being kind to others does increase the chances that they’ll be kind to you in return. Since it’s pretty hard to build a relationship on trading insults, this helps you shore up your friendships and acquaintances.

    It reduces anxiety and depression.

    Both the release of dopamine and building social connections have been shown to reduce or prevent signs of mental illness like depression and anxiety. Stress can be another trigger for these conditions, especially anxiety, so being kind helps to address them from another angle, too. While being kind to others is no substitute for going to therapy or taking necessary medications, it can be another tool in your toolbox to manage depression and anxiety.

    It can improve your physical health.

    Being kind isn’t just good for you physically and mentally. It’s also good for your body. In one study, writing small notes of affection to loved ones was found to lower levels of “bad” cholesterol in college students. Other research has indicated that people who devote more time to meaningfully helping others have less inflammation. Not only that, their immune system is also better able to fight off infections. Who knows? Maybe being kind to your coworkers will help you ward off that office cold!

    It creates a positive feedback loop.

    Being kind to others doesn’t just make both them and you feel good. Thanks to the norm of reciprocity, it also makes them more likely to be kind to you back, which makes you more likely to be kind to them again–and on and on in a cycle of positivity. Your act of kindness may have positive ripple effects that you can’t even conceive of.

    At this point, you’re probably wondering about different ways to be kind to others. Here are some of our favorite ideas:

    • Volunteering. Find a charitable organization that champions a cause that means a lot to you and offer to donate your time to them. Even if you’ve never volunteered before, it doesn’t take a lot of skill to hand out meals at a soup kitchen or clear trash from the local river. If you do have more professional talents you’d like to put to use, you can offer to provide them pro bono. Many nonprofits often need help in business areas such as finance and marketing.
    • Give gifts. A small gift such as a scented candle or a potted plant can really make someone’s day. The gift doesn’t have to be expensive, just thoughtful. For example, give someone who loves books a candle that smells like a library. You can also make them something by hand, or simply drop a card in the mail with a heartfelt note. 
    • Do extra chores. Almost nobody likes doing chores, so your family, friends and coworkers are sure to appreciate it when you take care of their tasks for them. Even if it’s not your turn, offer to do the dishes, take out the trash and recycling, vacuum the floors, clean out the fridge, mow the lawn or whatever needs to be done. Or better yet, don’t tell them you’re going to do it so they get a nice surprise.
    • Offer emotional support. Sometimes what your loved one needs the most is a listening ear as they vent or cry. Do your best to listen attentively to them without interrupting. Offer validation when appropriate, but otherwise just let them talk instead of butting in with advice or a relevant anecdote from your life. Your loved one probably needs to emotionally process things before they can receive that kind of information.
    • Express yourself. On the flipside, sometimes we don’t communicate our love and appreciation for people enough. You know in your head that you’re thankful for your friends helping you move. But did you actually tell them? It’s very easy to say “thank you” or compliment someone, and it will mean a lot to them–so do it!
    • Donate money. Of course, donating to a charitable cause or nonprofit organization is a great way to be kind. However, you don’t have to be so formal about it. For instance, you can send money via Patreon to an artist whose work you admire, or Venmo a friend who needs a little cash to tide them over until their first paycheck arrives.

    Helping others will make you and others feel better–a win-win situation. If you’re feeling down, try being kind to your coworkers or helping out a friend, and odds are that it will help cheer you up as well.

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    Culture

    Good Mental Health Equals a Happy Marriage

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    Happily married couples enjoy better mental health status, according to researchers.  They fall sick less often, have fewer instances of depression and anxiety, and suffer less from loneliness and feelings of solitude.  A recent study in Sweden shows that mentally healthy married couples are less likely to get pneumonia, undergo surgeries, develop cancer or have heart attacks. It makes sense that the joy that is part of being part of a happy couple translates to mental and physical well-being.

    What are some of the benefits to a marriage in which affects partners in possessing good mental health?

    Security.  Mentally healthy people provide each other with a sense of security.  They don’t have to wonder if the person they are coming home to will be “up” or “down” or worry about leaving the children in their care.  They are free from the worry that their partner is secretly unhappy or hiding some big secret.  They don’t have the situation where one person plays the role of the parent, and the other one of a child.  It is truly a marriage of healthy equals.

    Mutual support.  With two mentally healthy people, there is a built-in support system.  Each is invested in helping the other reach their goals, whether they are personal or professional.  Need someone to listen to a business pitch you’ll be presenting tomorrow?  Your partner is there.  Looking for a running partner?  Your spouse, may be eager to join you. Happy, stable people do not mind when their partners seek to improve themselves and are happy to be part of their transformations.  There is no jealousy or sense of competition.

    Witnessing life’s events together.  Mentally healthy people embrace their roles as witnesses to each other’s lives.  They are there for each other as they go through the inevitable life stages with all the joy and challenges these stages can bring.  They accompany each other to life celebrations as well as doctors’ appointments and hospital procedures.  What a gift it is to know that “in sickness and in health” is not an idle phrase.

    Goal-setting and accomplishing.  Mentally-sound couples have a higher chance of accomplishing a goal together, as they are excellent at collaborating.  They enjoy shared activities because they know that doing things together promotes a stronger relationship.

    Eating together.  Mentally-healthy couples love to come together at mealtimes, as they provide an opportunity to share both food and conversation.  Additionally, they enjoy grocery shopping together, and deciding what the meal plan will look like.  This generally leads to healthier home menus.

    Physical health mindfulness.  These couples seek to maintain and sustain good physical health, integrating new knowledge about wellness and urging each other in health-related activities.

    Encouragement and Praise vs. Criticism and Nagging. Happy couples use encouragement and praise as communication tools rather than criticism and nagging their partner to do something.

    Respect and Fairness. Both partners share the workload at home and there are no gender roles.  Both partners respect the work each contributes to keep the home happy and balanced.  They remember to express thanks and gratitude to each other.

    There’s an understanding of each other’s love language.  Mentally sound couples understand where the other person is coming from. They understand how each expresses love. They do not seek to teach the other the “best” way to love.  Rather, they learn and appreciate each other’s unique style.  Whether it is physical touch, verbal affirmations, gifts, notes, surprises or just doing the dishes when it isn’t “their turn”, there is an understanding of each other’s manner of demonstrating their feelings.

    Better sex, even into the golden years.  Happy, mentally stable couples have better sex.  These couples use good communication skills which help them keep their intimate lives active and evolving.  They do not use sex as a weapon, withholding it to punish or hurt a partner.  (They talk things out so issues don’t carry over to the bedroom.)

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