After the leak of the now-infamous Access Hollywood video of Donald Trump and Billy Bush talking about sexually assaulting woman by kissing them without consent and grabbing them "by the pussy,” the Republican presidential nominee brushed off his aggressive words as nothing more than “locker room talk.” But a group of boys at Centennial High School say no way.
The six students reached out to Wildfang CEO Emma McIlroy and asked if the local brand would sponsor their statement. The result is an image of them posing proudly in the company’s “Wild Feminist” tees in their Gresham school’s locker room, with a vow to not practice or put up with degrading and violent talk against women. The pointed photo of 16- and 17-year-old boys spread quickly, with thousands of Facebook shares and local coverage from KATU and KGW, and a CNN segment has been viewed nearly three million times. The crux of it is simple, says Adam Voigt, a junior at Centennial High School: “I didn't agree with what he said about how touching women was okay, and he just shooed it off as locker room talk. It's not really how we talk in the locker room.”
The message has caught on, and McIlroy gives the teens all the credit and praise. “The boys started the movement," she says. "I think young men like this are part of the future, and it’s so important they are having conversations with their peers and bringing awareness.”
The teens aren’t the only men proclaiming themselves wild feminists. Professional athletes are stepping up, too: Portland Timbers defender Zarek Valentin, Seattle Sounders forward Brad Evans, and Olympic fencer Miles Chamley-Watson have all posted photos of themselves wearing the same T-shirt inside locker rooms and disavowing sexual-assault language. “I hope it encourages more young men to support women’s rights and to speak up on behalf of women,” Mcllroy says. “It’s as simple as that.”
Wildfang plans to keep sponsoring (in T-shirt form) athletes who will stand against Trump’s version of locker room language, and encourages interested athletes and teens to reach out through social media. As Alex Zepeda (top, fourth from left) says: “It goes to show how a group of kids can change a school." Or, maybe, the whole world.