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Soccer star Megan Rapinoe on living in a world created by men

Megan Rapinoe is best known for her successful soccer career, leading the U.S. women's national team to two World Cup championships and an Olympic gold medal. She's also known for her fierce advocacy for social justice. Judy Woodruff recently spoke with Rapinoe about her career, causes and new book, "One Life."

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Megan Rapinoe is best known for her successful soccer career leading the U.S. women's national team to two World Cup championships and an Olympic gold medal. She is also known for her fierce advocacy for social justice.

    I spoke with her recently about her career, causes, and her new book, "One Life."

    And she started by explaining why she credits her family for her success.

  • Megan Rapinoe:

    There are six of us in our family. I'm the youngest. Although I'm a twin, I definitely claim the youngest.

    And it's just always been something that's important to us. We are a very loving family, very opinionated. I think anybody who knows my family knows at least a little bit of where I come from. But they're the people that I trust and love the most in the world.

    And even as my life's kind of exploded and things have gotten crazy in good ways, they're the backbone that I always go back to.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yes, the closeness comes through.

    There are so many things to ask you about in this book, but, of course, athletics, soccer big part of it. You write about how you were — I think, from as far back as you can remember, you were kicking a soccer ball around.

    Where does your love for soccer come from, do you think?

  • Megan Rapinoe:

    I think it goes back to those days, either playing in our front yard with my sister and my older brother, Brian, who I talk a lot about in the book, not only his life now and his struggles, but also the amazing parts of him.

    And he was the one that was just above us, so he's only five years older than us. And he introduced us to soccer and played. And we were on the sidelines of all his games growing up. So, I have to credit a lot of my passion and my love for soccer to my brother Brian.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So when people ask you — I mean, you have already come so far in your field. How far do you want to go? I mean, where do you see Megan Rapinoe going?

  • Megan Rapinoe:

    Oh, gosh, I don't know.I'm getting asked this more and more. It must be a product of me getting older in sports.

    I mean, I love the game still. I want to keep playing. There's an Olympics coming up next year, hopefully, if we can pull that off, with COVID and everything. And then there's a World Cup a couple years after that. I would love to keep playing through that.

    After that, we will see. I might be running on borrowed time then. But, certainly, I want to keep playing. And I love soccer. And then everything else, I feel like, will always be there. People always ask what I'm going to do after soccer, and it'll probably be something similar that I'm doing now, just without the soccer.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, your political activism clearly comes through in the book.

    You do write about the advantage you feel you have, the privilege of being white. But you also, of course, write about the disadvantage that women have living in a world created by men.

    How do you balance that out?

  • Megan Rapinoe:

    I try to just look at it really honestly, and just sort of keep it real.

    Clearly, being a woman, being a gay woman in this country comes with disadvantages. I have been underpaid my entire life. I have only been able to legally marry five years in this country federally. So, there's some things obviously that we still need to work on.

    But when it comes to then putting that in comparison to the really sort of brutal and cruel racial history that we have in our country, I can see where I'm also incredibly privileged and incredibly advantaged.

    And I look at it not as something that's negative, but I have this privilege, so I get to use this privilege in order to help dismantle all of these unfair systems and cruel systems and, frankly, the just downright wrong systems in our country.

    And so I look at it almost as an advantage in breaking everything down, rather than something that I don't want to acknowledge.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    One of the big battles you have been engaged in, Megan Rapinoe, has to do with racial justice.

    Given Joe Biden's victory in this presidential election, even though it's close, the fact that he won, does that get any easier, do you think?

  • Megan Rapinoe:

    I think it puts us in a better position, of course, then if we have what we have right now, which is a president who's just insistent upon inflaming racial tension in this country.

    I think that the Biden administration has already pointed to a willingness to work on racial justice and take it very seriously. I think we have a long ways to go.

    Patrisse Cullors, the Black Lives Matter movement founder, penned a really amazing letter, I thought, to the incoming Biden administration of: You know what? We have delivered the vote. Black women have delivered the vote. They have organized. They have got out the vote. They have time and again really been the backbone of the Democratic Party and winning elections.

    And they not only deserve to have a seat at the table, but, like, it's their right. They should be reflected in these policies. The needs of communities, of those communities, which are not better known by anyone than the activists and the organizers and the women on the ground in those communities, they deserve to be at the table and have the policies of the nation reflect that.

    And I think president-elect Joe Biden, vice president-elect Kamala Harris have a responsibility to those communities, not just for this election, but, frankly, for the history of our nation.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But is there a recognition that they can get less done, perhaps, because Donald Trump got at least 71 million votes?

  • Megan Rapinoe:

    I think it's going to be very difficult.

    I mean, it's disheartening in a lot of ways to know that 71 million people sort of put the thumbs up on the last four years, particularly as we have seen over the summer with the protests around George Floyd's murder and Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many more, that that many people would OK a second term of that for a president, who has been so clearly racist and white supremacist, if nothing else, very sympathetic to them.

    So, it is going to be difficult. But progress is difficult, as we well know. And that can't stop us from trying. I'm always hopeful. I'm definitely hopeful having this administration come in, knowing that I think they are very serious about addressing a lot of these issues in our country that we haven't addressed for a long time.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Megan Rapinoe.

    The book is "One Life."

    Thank you so much for talking with us.

  • Megan Rapinoe:

    Yes, thank you for having me.

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