As far as I can determine, the Yankee Doodle Damsels frolicking at the futbol fest Down Under are permitted to sing but not dance.
I arrived at that conclusion because numerous members of the United States Women's National Team have been toasted like so many campfire marshmallows for declining to warble the Star-Spangled Banner pre-match. (And here I thought it was a futbol competition, not an audition for The Voice. Who knew?)
"These morons on the women’s soccer team continue to embarrass us on the national stage," went a bleat from American journalist and media personality Megyn Kelly. "They won’t sing the national anthem. Half of them won’t put their hands over their hearts. Even the ones who are singing are half-assing it. They clearly don’t want to be doing it. I mean, they look like they don’t even want to be there. It’s like some sort of inconvenience to be representing the U.S.A. It’s shameful. These girls are shameful. They ought to be ashamed of themselves."
A few among the YDDs were also observed in full guffaw and—gadzooks!—doing a jig scant seconds after a dreary, you've-gotta-be-kidding-me, nil-nil saw-off vs. not-so-mighty Portugal, a stalemate that thrust the Americans from the group stage and into the knockout kickabouts at the FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia/New Zealand. Apparently, a post-match do-si-do is also frowned upon.
"I’m all for positivity, but at the same time, the cheering, the dancing, I’ve got a problem with that," gasped USWNT legend Carli Lloyd.
Many others have joined the chorus.
"I wonder if the US team—I’m hesitant to write 'our team'—is aware, or even cares, that it’s very difficult, if not impossible, for self-respecting Americans to waste their time on them," is how New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick put it.
Meantime, longtime journalist Jason Whitlock of Blaze Media described the Yankee Doodle Damsels as a "group of overpaid, spoiled, and entitled women who claim they’re underpaid and underappreciated and that they represent a racist, homophobic, and sexist country. I despise them. I want them to lose."
Then it got nasty.
Whitlock reserved a special level of animosity for aging-out forward Megan Rapinoe, calling her "the ultimate pimp," a "fraud" and "toxic," and referencing "her shallowness." Both Mushnick and Kelly provided the accompanying vocals, the former calling Rapinoe "vulgar" and the latter informing us that she has "poisoned the entire team against the country for which they play." (Interesting to note that Kelly neglected to produce a sliver of evidence to support her accusation, but why let the facts get in the way, right?)
Anyway, if you've been trying to follow along at home, you either hate the Americans or you hate the Americans. And Rapinoe serves as the lightning rod for the hostility.
In his peculiar, spiteful essay that is part misogyny, part Title IX ("one of the greatest hustles in the history of pimping") and an uncommon amount of Rapinoe-bashing, Whitlock puts her directly on the spit seven times, with nary a mention of any other member of the national women's soccer side. The way he has it figured, whatever misadventure befalls the Yankee Doodle Damsels, it's all on the gay forward with the big yap and the blue, short-cropped hair.
It's as if Whitlock awoke one morning to discover Rapinoe in his kitchen, peeing on his Corn Flakes while her accomplices loitered outside on the team bus.
But here's what I find myself wondering: How much, if any, of the anti-Rapinoe rhetoric we read and hear is rooted in her sexuality?
I know Whitlock, Kelly and Mushnick solely through their scribblings and commentary, thus I can only speculate on state-of-belief (you know, the same way they speculate about the American's toxicity and narcissism), and I'm not prepared to suggest one or all three of them is anti-LGBT(etc.). Perhaps it's a subconscious thing, though, because Rapinoe hasn't been among the starting 11 for any of the Yankee Doodle Damsels' three skirmishes, nor has she seen much of the pitch in a substitute role Down Under. She's barely a spoke in the U.S.A. wheel. Still, the non-singing, the dancing...hey, why not blame the loud gay girl, right?
And maybe that's what's really at play here. It isn't so much that Rapinoe is gay, it's that she's a loud lesbian. Put a microphone under her nose and a Pride parade breaks out: "Go gays! You can't win a championship without gays on your team!"
But why is that leftover sound bite from 2019 considered obnoxious and objectionable?
I mean, didn't Joe Willie Namath guarantee a Super Bowl win for the New York Jets? Ditto Mark Messier and the Stanley Cup for the New York Rangers? Both men were admired for their bravado (although a great many initially snickered when Joe Willie made his boast).
Yet when the loud lesbian says you can't win without gays, she's met with scorn and ridicule, and it hasn't eased in four years. Even if her message was/is accurate.
Again, I can't measure the undercurrent of anti-gay bias in the media, but it's my experience that homophobes walk among news snoops. It's just that most aren't daft enough to say it out loud. They're usually subtle.
Megan Rapinoe has had no influence on the pitch during the current kickabout, and who among us knows what goes on behind the Americans' changing room doors? Perhaps she's been performing Satanic rituals at halftime, or poking pins into a Lady Liberty doll, and she has her 22 younger Yankee Doodle Damsels hoodwinked into playing along.
In reality, Kelly, Mushnick, Whitlock and others of their ilk have produced zero evidence to support the notion that Rapinoe, a part-time player, has poisoned the U.S. water supply Down Under.
If she's guilty of anything, it's losing the final foot race with Father Time, the same fate that awaits all athletes.
So why demonize her? Because she's a loud gay icon. Such a shame.