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Opinion: ‘Locker room talk’ not something to hide behind

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Locker rooms are a place for occasional vulgar conversation, but that doesn't make it an excuse for language that insinuates sexual assault. Credit: Illustration by Robert Scarpinito

Locker rooms are a place for occasional vulgar conversation, but that doesn’t make it an excuse for language that insinuates sexual assault. Credit: Illustration by Robert Scarpinito

Any athlete can tell you conversations in the locker room are sometimes best kept inside the showers and the rows of steel cabinets full of equipment. Discussions rarely focus on politics, finance or foreign policy, and contain mostly immature jokes.

Athletes can also tell you that actual locker room talk might be off-color, but is rarely harmful in nature. I have been in a locker room, albeit not at the collegiate or professional level, and have sporadically heard vulgar comments before, as well as some of the words used by Donald Trump during a conversation with Billy Bush before a taping of Access Hollywood in 2005.

When my peers and I engaged in “locker room talk,” we were teenagers, cracking jokes, acting out in immature ways and making mistakes that the youth of the world tend to make. Trump, on the other hand, was a 59-year-old man stating an intention to sexually assault a women.

“Locker room talk” insinuates overly-manly banter between teammates about their opponents and their daily lives. The locker room is a place for athletes to vent their emotions and blow off steam from the highly stressful environment of sports.

It is not a place for sexual aggression toward women.

Now, as an adult, I realize the seriousness of irresponsible comments like these, as well as the potentially dangerous mindset that comments like these can cultivate.

I would be lying if I said things that are vulgar and cruel in nature are not conversed in the bowels of football stadiums, basketball arenas and baseball clubhouses around the globe.

Yes, the locker room is a place of hyper-masculine attitudes and big egos, but to compare this culture to that of sexual assault against women stereotypes athletes and subtracts from the serious issue of women’s safety.

Calling this “locker room talk” to bail out a man who has made more than one distasteful comment toward women and the issue of sexual assault is not just an injustice, it’s a sad setback in addressing one of the nation’s most prevalent dilemmas.

Athletes from different sports have expressed disdain on Twitter for the comments made by Trump, and the excuse being put forth for his blunder. Roy Hall, a former standout wide receiver at Ohio State, was on the side of those athletes.

“I think what he did was took the term and just tried to mask his specific comments. If you just say ‘locker room talk,’ you might as well throw that in with ‘boys being boys,’” Hall said. “From a professional standpoint, and then obviously a collegiate standpoint, anything regarding women of any sort, especially regarding assault or anything like that, you don’t joke around with stuff like that at all.”

If you still find yourself questioning whether or not to let Trump slide, ask yourself this: Would you feel comfortable if he said this about a woman close to you? How would you be judged if you said something similar? If this is the excuse we give a public figure for such vulgar language, what else can those in the public eye say?

 

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