The onslaught of videos resurfacing of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has brought up far reaching issues of supposed “locker room talk” and the spaces in which men feel invincible and unable to be held accountable for their actions. In an election where sexual assault has been consistently used as a political tool, these interviews are even more pertinent to the times.
The most buzzed about speech, even inspiring a speech denouncing his actions by Michelle Obama, was that with Billy Bush, whose fifteen year career at NBC has now ended. The lewd recording, taken during a ride in an Access Hollywood bus, hears the two talking about how Trump made sexual advances on a married woman he found attractive, moving on her “heavily.”
The phrase causing the most upset however, is when he claims that rich powerful men can get anybody they want, and then do anything they want, as he said:
“Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the p—y. You can do anything.” -Donald Trump
Trump’s statement, released after much public backlash, only further fueled the flames. In it he described his comments as “locker room banter,” from a private conversation a long time ago. But let’s keep in mind this was only 11 years ago, when he was 59 years old, which is still a whole term older than Obama currently is, we don’t get the same crude statements from the current president’s “youth”.
Now where it gets even more difficult is in the defense of locker rooms themselves. Some felt that locker rooms are getting too bad of a reputation from Trump’s statement. Athletes rushed to say that locker rooms are not like this, that even in fraternities they had never heard this kind of disrespectful or derogatory rhetoric.
At first, this seemed like a great fantasy, a world where even behind closed doors nobody talks inappropriately. But finally, other athletes stepped up to shatter this illusion. Former MLB pitcher Ron Sterling said not only is it common, but it’s in locker rooms, bathrooms, and country clubs. Former NBA player Shane Battier said the locker room is a larger concept, one of the places men can freely speak without backlash.
Many agree though that this is not the norm, but hateful speech is louder than common conversations, as well as the fact that the conversation does not often reach that level of concern. WNBA Coach Cheryl Reeve said it best in a recent interview though, where she states:
“He was trying to say, ‘It’s what men do.’ And that to me is the inherent problem. It is what men do. Let’s not have all these men stand up and say, ‘Well, we don’t do that!’ Donald Trump’s candidacy has shined the light on so many problems that exist that I always talk about. It is behavior that’s been accepted for years.” -Cheryl Reeve
What should come from this, it seems, is change. The one thing we can give Trump is that all of his problematic statements are a great way to assess what issues still face women today in social equality, just listen to his inexcusable claims! It’s that easy. What won’t be easy, however, is changing the conversation. Long maintained ideals are difficult to suddenly rid mindsets of, but bringing the talk out of the locker room and to the media and polls are a great way to start.
-By Cassandra Gagnon for The Untitled Magazine