by A. Big Country
Apparently, “locker room talk” is now a phrase. Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump has been tossing it around pretty loosely. As the world has heard by now, Trump bragged to Access Hollywood co-host Billy Bush about seducing his co-host Nancy O’Dell, who was married (as was Trump). The most egregious part of the audio was Trump talking about how he can kiss and grope women — because when you’re a star, you can do anything and they let you do it.
After this story came out, a large number of Republican leaders washed their hands of Trump, and Trump looked for ways to shift the attention. One of the ways he did that was writing it off as “locker room talk.”
What exactly is this locker room talk?
Personally, I understand the phrase. As a cis man who has played sports and shared a gym and locker room with other men, the subject of women does come up. In the gym, the topic of conversation can shift to the women around. When an attractive woman walks by a group of men, more often than not it’s acknowledged in some way. It could be a simple nod to the group to give a look. In a more controlled setting where a group of men can see a woman but she cannot hear them (for example, if the woman is taking a class in a separate room), the comments often come. It’s common in these situations to hear, “damn, look at her,” or “she’s fine as hell.”
You’ll also hear plenty of discussion about hook-ups. It often begins fairly innocently, asking what someone did last night/over the weekend, and you may get a story of a hook-up. But men also keep it pretty basic. I rarely hear questions about what she looked like or a prod for explicit details. No one bats an eye about a man telling a story about hooking up, even for married men. You wouldn’t hear someone call for a stop to objectifying a woman in the gym. And you would not catch someone saying “But you’re married” to a story of a married man hooking up.
But assault? Hell no.
Professional athletes have chimed in on Trump’s idea of “locker room talk” as well.
Have I been in every locker room? No. But the guys I know and respect don't talk like that. They talk about girls but not like that. Period.
— Chris Conley (@_flight17_) October 10, 2016
The attempt to normalize it as any type of "talk" is wrong. I refuse to let my son think that this is "just how men speak" https://t.co/cdzLGAX2zs
— Jacob Tamme (@JacobTamme) October 10, 2016
PSA: sexual advances without consent is NOT locker room talk.
— Kendall Marshall (@KButter5) October 10, 2016
So, does the talk of trying to hook up with a woman, married or not, come off as “locker room talk”? Sure. And had Trump stopped there, maybe this would not be as big of a deal — everyone already knows Trump has not been a faithful husband. But he went well beyond. No one talks about forcing themselves on a woman or grabbing her “by the pussy.” As a matter of fact, the day after this story broke, one of the topics of conversation among my male friends was just how horrifying this phrase was.
Trump’s words cannot be written off as locker room talk, because they aren’t. They are the words of a sexual predator. If I heard that in a gym or locker room, I and plenty of others would confront that person about it. And personally, I’d no longer associate with them. That association includes not voting for them to be the leader of the free world.