This summer belongs to Megan Rapinoe. The 33-year-old co-captain of the US women’s soccer team scored six goals as the reigning world champions retained their crown. Her amazing performance in the World Cup has earned Megan the Golden Ball (best overall player) and the Golden Boot (top scorer) awards as well as appearances on talk shows and magazine covers. However, just a day after their triumph in France, while Rapinoe and her teammates were probably still celebrating, public posters of the star back in her homeland were vandalized with homophobic slurs. Online, where fans are turning her iconic goal celebrations into joyous memes, hateful comments are thrown at the athlete over both her attitude and activism.

After US women’s soccer team won the World Cup, haters began attacking its co-captain Megan Rapinoe

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The confidence that Megan displays is not customary for women, University of California Berkeley history professor Bonnie Morris told the BBC. Usually, women are expected to “put themselves down and be modest.”

“Women are very careful not to seem too assertive or knowledgeable because it’s taken as a kind of cockiness that is a turn-off to men,” she said. However, the openly gay athlete isn’t concerned about how she comes across at all.

When Rapinoe celebrated one of her World Cup goals with a confident pose, holding her head up high, the image took off on the internet with many people praising her warrior-like attitude. Others, however, called her egotistical. “Nobody knows what to do with Megan because she’s attractive, smart and a fantastic athlete,” Ms. Morris said. “She’s earned the right to present herself as capable, but still people don’t want to let her show pride.”

There is a double standard, the professor said.

Male athletes who are brash and pound their chests aren’t criticized, Ms. Morris continued, but because Rapinoe is a pink-haired lesbian willing to take on President Trump, some people who haven’t met anyone like her feel threatened by her.

However, people were having none of it and jumped to the athlete’s defense

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The star of the US team is very active off the court as well. Recently, she demanded equal pay for the women’s team, and has also used her popularity to raise awareness of social justice issues, including some of the cultural flashpoints where American public opinion is so deeply divided. For example, she was one of the first prominent US athletes to kneel during the National Anthem in protest of police brutality, which many labeled as unpatriotic.

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