Last Saturday, I bundled up in a coat and scarf and braved the frigid temperatures of Boston to go photograph the Women's March for my college's newspaper, along with a friend who is also on the photography staff. I had never been to the Women's March before and was curious about what I may find. Would it live up to the stereotypes that are constantly projected onto it?
The answer? Not in the slightest. A negative stereotype that is constantly perpetuated is that the Women's March is full of angry, unmarried women. I was not surprised to find that the Women's March is actually filled with women of all ages, races, and religions and that some women were there with their children and grandchildren and some were there with their friends. But this is not what surprised me about the Women's March.
The story behind the cover photo of this article is that a young boy was holding the sign. It read "boys will be held accountable." I was standing in the press box when I turned around and saw him there, along with his mother. Standing up there and looking around at the crowd, I was very pleasantly surprised to see a lot more men at the Women's March than I expected. There were college students, children, and elderly men among the crowd.
A common misconception is that feminism is women's rights advocacy. This is definitely part of it, but the dictionary definition is "equality of the sexes." That's right. Men are in this too.
While nothing is perfect (and I doubt it ever will be) it is evident that Generation Z is becoming more accountable for toxic masculinity and is taking actions to change it. In a recent commercial for men's razor brand Gillette, toxic masculinity is challenged through a short film that highlights the reaction to the #MeToo and Time's Up movements, and how men can work to eliminate violence and sexual harassment and promote equality in the workplace.
In the past, this ad campaign would be completely out of the question. But this generation is different. While of course there are still plenty of individuals who need to understand the impact that toxic masculinity has on their actions, and how those actions impact other people, the bottom line is that this generation is acknowledging that there is a massive problem.
While women have been fighting long and hard, and have made plenty of progress, in order to level the playing field, men need to acknowledge their own set of issues. "Boys will be boys" is no longer an excuse. They WILL be held accountable.