On Thursday, Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro invited feminist writer Lauren Duca onto his radio program to debate comments the conservative made about women’s soccer star player Megan Rapinoe.
Shapiro argued that the U.S. women’s team should not make as much money as the men’s team in the World Cup due to a massive disparity in revenue generated by each team. He also said Ms. Rapinoe racks up sponsorship deals and contracts due to both her far-above average athletic ability and her political activism, such as her widely-covered national anthem protest allegedly for LGBT rights. “She’s sort of Colin Kaepernick, but with actual talent at her sport,” Shapiro said.
Duca, apparently attempting to challenge him, told Shapiro in a tweet: “Lol f*** off, Ben Shapiro. If Megan Rapinoe is getting contracts for any reason other than her talent, it’s because she just provided an entire generation of baby dykes with their awakening moment.”
Shapiro noted that Ms. Duca’s comment was in basic agreement with his commentary regarding Rapinoe, but told her that if she wanted to come on his show, he’d be “happy” to discuss the topic. Duca, apparently in disagreement, said her opinion, in part, was for Shapiro to “STFU” (shut the f*** up) and agreed to come on his show.
After Shapiro reiterated that it seemed both he and Duca agreed that Rapinoe is getting sponsorships in part for her political LGBT activism, Duca said she was still “confused” concerning any agreement.
“I think it’s very valuable, right, that Megan Rapinoe offers this level of visibility, as a queer woman myself,” said Duca. “My heart is just bursting out of my chest. This is just something we don’t really see and it’s brought me to tears multiple times, and I’m so excited about it. I have some criticisms of ‘rainbow capitalism,’ but I love to see this level of acceptance around the LGBTQ community and I am really excited about the fact that corporations think that an LGBTQ identity as visible as Megan’s is valuable. So, that’s what I was saying, and it seems to me that you were saying she wasn’t deserving of her success because —.”
“Well, that was not my point at all,” Shapiro interjected. “What I actually said was that what was making me upset was that Megan Rapinoe’s claim to fame right now, was not merely her sexuality, her sexual orientation — which we’ve seen before, by the way, Abby Wambach famously kissed her partner in 2016 after winning the World Cup.”
“I remember that, Ben,” Duca jumped in. “That was so hot!”
“In any case, the fact that she is a lesbian is part of the story; part of the story is that she’s spent a lot of time complaining about the White House, the United States, talking about how the United States is bigoted and homophobic,” Shapiro said. “The point that I was making is you are the beneficiary of an extraordinarily accepting system where corporations are indeed sponsoring you to make ads, where people are indeed celebrating you, where people are paying you inordinate amounts of money to do advertising contracts, in a sport that, ya know, once every four years makes attention but generally does not over the course of American sporting life. And, so, what are you (Rapinoe) complaining about?”
“That is not me complaining that a corporation is sponsoring her,” he continued. “I may have complaints that I think corporations are engaging in exactly what you would call ‘rainbow capitalism,’ but that wasn’t actually my complaint. So I’m confused what you’re yelling at me about.”
Duca responded: “I think that the confusing comes from there being two very different hierarchical structures at play here. So the United States government is actively eroding LGBTQ rights right now, and there is a pay gap issue that has leveled the advocacy that the U.S. Women’s Soccer team is offering. At the same time, it seems as if these corporations see the LGBTQ identity, which Megan Rapinoe so proudly displays, as valuable. And those are two different things.”
Duca said Shapiro was “saying [Rapinoe] is profiting off of victimhood. I saw her with a campaign bottle and trophy. I think that the thing that is happening here is she’s celebrating the LGBTQ identity; corporations also want to do the same, and this is happening concurrently … with the attacks on LGBTQ rights.”
“Well, she is not just doing that,” challenged Shapiro. “She’s kneeling for the national anthem, obviously; she’s claiming that America is a widespread bigoted country; she’s claiming that America is deeply sexist, and this is resulting in the female pay gap in regard to soccer, which is evidence-free. I mean, this has been fact-checked by everybody from The Washington Post to Snopes. There is not solid evidence that the women are being discriminated against in pay. If you want women’s equity on the women’s World Cup stage you’re going to have to explain how it is that the men’s World Cup earned $6 billion in 2018, and the women’s Would Cup earned $130 million in 2019 and the women and men are supposed to have the same prize money. … In order to receive the same as men, [women] would have to actually earn three times what the entire Would Cup earned for the players themselves, which is just untenable, obviously.”
Duca answered: “I hear a lot of numbers, and I do hear what you’re saying and that they are numbers, but I feel like at the crux of this is the question of: Is the United States, overall, a sexist country; is there a problem of LGBTQ representation? I think we can also say that her being so visible in the context of a complete lack of visibility is valuable.”
“So you say something in the clip about we’re being made to assume this is delightful, right, and you seem to find it obnoxious,” she continued. “But the whole thing is that she has built this level of public-figuredom and absolutely it includes a political element, right? And that it is being deemed valuable, and that perhaps, it does, in fact, it definitely has to do with her identity as an outspoken gay woman; in fact, Ben, I think that’s where we agree.”
“So we do agree,” Shapiro interjected.
Duca went on to suggest the disparity in viewership and general attention between men and women’s soccer is due to sexism. “Aren’t you saying that men’s soccer is able to create a larger profit margin? What role does the white male identity play in that? It seems to me that where we differ, you think that it’s okay to profit off of identity, it’s just a problem who gets to take home the money, and I’m saying lesbians, too, then, lesbians, too.”
Shapiro reiterated that the issue is Rapinoe feigning victimhood as an LGBT woman (i.e. kneeling for the anthem) while simultaneously being rewarded for her identity by an overwhelmingly accepting society. He then asked Duca: “Are you really suggesting that people are watching women’s soccer less because of sexism? Isn’t it just possible that people are watching women’s soccer less because it is not played as high a skill level as men’s soccer? It’s the reason people don’t watch the WNBA the same as they watch the NBA; nobody can dunk in the WNBA.”
“Ben, this is so incredibly tired,” Duca said. “You’re making a biological difference about skill level on a playing field. I don’t really feel the need to entertain that …”
“I know you don’t want to entertain it, but why not?” Shapiro asked.
“I’m talking about publicity and acclaim and the level of a public profile that is achieved in accordance with whatever identity the player has,” she replied. “And we do tend to celebrate, right, we tend to celebrate men in athletic faces way more than women and that’s why this is so refreshing, right —.”
“Serena Williams is pretty well celebrated,” Shapiro said, noting that Williams is the “greatest female tennis player of all time.”
Duca was displeased, saying Williams is the “greatest athlete” of all time, male or female.
“She is not the greatest athlete of all time,” Shapiro answered. “She would lose to a good college men’s player; but she is the greatest women’s player of all time.”
“Ben, I feel like, I don’t, I, what’s that, is that based on facts or feelings, Ben?” Duca said.
“No, that is based absolutely on the United States tennis rankings; they actually have a way of creating a metric —.”
“That’s based on the Constitution, that Serena Williams would lose a tennis match to —,” Duca snarked.
“No, that’s based on Serena Williams actually losing to two men, one of whom was actually smoking at the time, several years ago at the Australian Open,” said Shapiro. “I mean, Serena Williams has admitted this.”