Let’s face it: double standards are a part of life.
This is why hot girls on Instagram have thousands of followers while their male counterparts look uber-douchey for taking topless selfies.
This is why men can fart in front of others and receive laughs while women fear the day they let out a single squeak of gas, for that would surely be followed by their permanent banishment, a social excommunication of sorts.
Recently, ESPN published a detailed account of Hope Solo’s most recent run-in with the law. Solo is one of the faces of U.S. Women’s Soccer, the star goalkeeper for the red, white, and blue. The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup kicked off this week, and Solo was again making spectacular saves for the U.S. National Soccer Team.
Back on June 21, 2014, Solo was involved in a domestic dispute with her half-sister, Teresa Obert, and Obert’s son, which turned physical. Punches were thrown and faces were scratched, which ultimately led to Obert calling the police. When police arrived, they questioned all parties involved, viewed the evidence, and concluded that Solo was the primary aggressor, leading to her arrest.
A dismissed domestic violence case and an appeal by the State of Washington later, here we are: a case against Solo still pending and Solo, seen across the country on national television playing for the U.S. National Soccer Team.
The past year has been marred by domestic violence in sports. The NFL has taken a public beating for its mishandling of Ray Rice and his bout of domestic violence. The WNBA has recently suspended All-Star Brittney Griner and her now-ex wife Glory Johnson for their domestic violence incident (a female same-sex couple involved in domestic violence – America is surely not ready for you, yet). But Solo’s status in U.S. Soccer still remains intact.
Is this another case of a gender-based double standard? Do we believe women aren’t strong enough to be the aggressor in a domestic violence incident? Should we be outraged that Solo is allowed to participate in the World Cup?
In short, my answers are no, no, and it depends.
Question #1 is more about Solo’s abilities in her field than it is her gender. She is considered by many to be one of the, if not, top goalkeepers in the world. If we know anything about sports, it’s that talent and ability trumps morality every time. Floyd Mayweather continues to not only be allowed to fight in the state of Nevada, but is cheered by millions despite the fact that he is a convicted domestic abuser. Producing on the field will apparently cover a multitude of sins.
Question #2 is a ridiculous one that can be answered with two words: Ronda Rousey.
Question #3 is the most interesting one. To me, this is not a question about uneven male and female perceptions, but rather a question about the institutional decisions of U.S. Soccer in comparison to others like the NFL and the WNBA. Sports is big business; whether we like it or not, profit takes precedence over ethics. They don’t see man or woman, straight or gay, black or white – they see green. This is not an issue of double standards; this is an issue of potential ethical mismanagement of U.S. Soccer by its executives. Whether these sporting officials should take matters into their own hands and discipline players for off-the-field issues is up to the individual to decide.
It’s easy for people to look at this as Hope Solo getting away with domestic violence because she’s a woman, but that’s really not the case. This is just another example in the storied tradition of athletes, male or female, being allowed to participate in their sport despite having issues outside the playing field. And in time, this may very well turn out to be another example in the other storied tradition of a sport’s governing body conveniently looking the other way, all for the sake of money.