High school athletes are reminding the world that sexual assault is most definitely not “locker room banter.”
In a photo shared to Facebook on October 13, six male athletes stand in a locker room sporting shirts that read “Wild Feminist.” The young men pictured in the photo are basketball, football, soccer and cross country athletes from Centennial High School in Gresham, Oregon.
The photo was shot in the high school’s locker room in response to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s recently leaked 2005 comments about women. The hot mic video featured Trump bragging that he “just kisses” women without their consent, and “grabs them by the pussy” because “you can do anything” to women when you’re famous. The GOP candidate later brushed off his remarks as “locker room banter.”
The post, which has been shared over 12,000 times as of Monday afternoon, features the caption: “Sexual Assault is not locker room banter.”
Senior Rhys Atkinson (pictured all the way on the left) explained to The Huffington Post why he thinks it’s so important for young male athletes to speak up in the face of Trump’s misogyny.
“It’s very important to speak out about this, because it has to be known that there are men out there that support women and women’s rights,” Atkinson said. “I believe in the equality of everyone. Everyone deserves the same rights, and it’s not fair that women can be degraded through speech or actions.”
The 17-year-old added that Trump’s remarks about women are not reflective of the conversations he and his teammates have in the locker room.
“As an athlete I spend a lot of time in the locker room, and I’m around plenty of other athletes, and we definitely don’t talk in a way that could degrade women,” he said. “Generally, I talk about what I want to do in my future for sports.”
It’s very important to speak out about this, because it has to be known that there are men out there that support women and women’s rights. Rhys Atkinson, 17
The “Wild Feminist” tees the athletes wore are created by Portland-based clothing company Wildfang. CEO of Wildfang Emma McIlroy told HuffPost many people at the company were upset about Trump’s comments and wanted to do something about it. So, McIlroy reached out to some of the male athletes in her life to see what they thought about Trump’s idea of “locker room banter.”
“When we chatted with the Centennial High School boys and their coach about it, they really wanted to be involved,” she said. “The boys wanted to make it clear that in their locker room they treat women with respect.”
Since last week, more male athletes have added their voices to the mix, wearing their “Wild Feminist” t-shirt in the locker room. Portland Timbers soccer player Zarek Valentin and Olympic fencer Miles Chamley-Watson have both posted photos of themselves wearing “Wild Feminist” tees in their locker rooms.
As McIlroy pointed out, we need more young men like these to step up and speak out against Trump’s comments.
“Young men are an incredibly important part of changing the conversation,” she said. “These young men can educate their peers and change how future generations treat women. We encourage more men to step up and speak out.”
Yes, yes, and more yes.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.