Using her platform as perhaps the most influential woman in sports today, Serena Williams has once again underscored the importance of equal pay, undercutting the opposing argument by unloading a hypothetical that makes clear just how hypocritical the wage gap really is.
Speaking with Melissa Harris-Perry for a piece published by Glamour on Tuesday morning, Williams was asked to comment on the U.S. women’s soccer team’s recent legal battle seeking equal pay for equal work. Williams’ response is worth quoting at length (emphasis ours):
These sports have a lot of work to do. And I really hope that I can be helpful in that journey because I do believe that women deserve the same pay. We work just as hard as men do. I’ve been working, playing tennis, since I was three years old. And to be paid less just because of my sex — it doesn’t seem fair. Will I have to explain to my daughter that her brother is gonna make more money doing the exact same job because he’s a man? If they both played sports since they were three years old, they both worked just as hard, but because he’s a boy, they’re gonna give him more money? Like, how am I gonna explain that to her?
The 21-time Grand Slam winner delivered a similar answer in March after both then-Indian Wells CEO Raymond Moore and men’s No. 1 Novak Djokovic delivered egregiously explicit sexist comments regarding the women’s game and women’s wages. While Moore said that female tennis players should get “down on [their] knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born because they have carried [the] sport” — something that Williams’ ever-climbing popularity and ticket sales would dispute — Djokovic suggested that male players should “fight for more” earnings than the women receive.
At the time, Williams presented the same hypothetical as she did above: You have two children — one boy, one girl. You really think the latter inherently deserves less than the former?
This misogyny-slamming scenario deserves to be repeated whenever Williams has the ability to do so. After all, despite that we witnessed history this week when, in the first time in our nation’s 240-year life, a woman successfully secured the lead spot on a major party’s presidential ticket, women, somehow, still make only 79 cents on the dollar as compared to men. The question of equal pay isn’t going away anytime soon — and so for the sake of all those girls out there who want to be president one day, or want to be the next Serena Williams, we have to ask ourselves: How can we justify a quantifiable, clear-cut double standard to our kids?
The answer is simple. We can’t.