Words are powerful.
In case you missed it, last week the Republican candidate for President of the United States was heard openly bragging about sexually assaulting women.
In a leaked video from 2005, Donald Trump talks about kissing women without their consent. “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it.” He tells Billy Bush, then the host of Access Hollywood, that when you’re famous, women will “let you do anything,” and he can just “grab them by the pussy.”
On Sunday night, just two days after the hot-mic video went viral, Trump took the stage for his second debate with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. When confronted about his comments, he went for a three-pronged defensive strategy: deny, dismiss, and deflect.
“I didn’t say that at all,” he began, then went on to explain that “this was locker room talk.” He said that while wasn’t proud of his comments, they were “just words,” and that Bill Clinton has done worse. Then he started ranting about how he would take down ISIS, said that other nations are stealing American jobs, and suggested the debate move on to more important things.
In summary, he spewed a bunch of ridiculous nonsense in an attempt to play down the seriousness of his words and actions and confuse everyone into thinking he had addressed the issue.
But I’m not letting him off the hook. I don’t accept that these disgusting comments about women are ‘locker room talk’ or can be dismissed as ‘just words.’ Words have power; they can do damage. Trump knows this. That’s why he keeps repeating the phrase ‘locker room talk.’ He figures that maybe – just maybe – if he says it enough, people will be tricked into thinking it’s a legitimate excuse.
It’s not working. People have taken to Twitter in a frenzy, calling it out for the sexist dribble that it is.
As an athlete, I’ve been in locker rooms my entire adult life and uh, that’s not locker room talk.
— Sean Doolittle (@whatwouldDOOdo) October 10, 2016
When Trump says it’s just “locker room talk,” he’s defending the very culture that normalizes sexual assaults on women.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) October 10, 2016
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
— Derrick Kisabeth (@dkisabeth) October 10, 2016
Doubling down on “locker room talk”?! Like all men do this?! Trumps words are an attack on women, this pathetic excuse is an attack on men.
— Anna Kendrick (@AnnaKendrick47) October 10, 2016
calling it “locker room talk” just means you support rape culture BEHIND women’s backs. call it what you want, you STILL SAID IT. #debate
— Tyler Oakley (@tyleroakley) October 10, 2016
I join these people in disagreeing with Trump.
I refuse to believe the majority of men talk this way about women. Whether they’re alone or with all their buddies after sweating it out on the basketball court, I refuse to think most men disrespect women enough to brag about getting away with grabbing them by the pussy and forcing themselves on them.
There’s a difference between casually talking about women with your friends and bragging about raping them. And no, Donald, not all men would sexually assault a woman just because they thought they could get away with it.
And while I refuse to believe this is how men talk to each other in the locker room, if Trump is allowed to move on from these comments without being held accountable for them, it might give people the impression it is okay to start talking about women like that.
Trump’s claim that this type of talk is harmless, common, and acceptable is a perpetuation of rape culture. Women experience rape culture their entire lives. Rape culture is the reason people like Brock Turner keep getting away with rape. It isn’t a joke, and there’s no excuse for it.
Is anyone buying Trump’s claims of great respect for women, and their subsequent respect for him, anymore? There has been evidence of Trump’s abhorrent and consistent disrespect of women for decades. He calls female journalists c**nts and makes tasteless comments about models and their weight. These aren’t the actions of someone who respects women.
Trump’s attempt at passing his words off as common, no-big-deal ‘locker room talk’ suggests all men are genetically programmed to sexually assault women; that they are sex-obsessed beings incapable of seeing a beautiful woman without being pulled to kiss her ‘like a magnet,’ without her consent. It implies every man who frequents a locker room would grope any woman – and that they’d let him, if he’s famous enough.
Personally, I give men more credit than that. Obviously, Trump does not.
Words may not break bones, but they do make an impact. The effect they have on our society and culture cannot be underestimated. We need to stop excusing people like Trump and their sexist behavior, no matter what room it happens in.
Image via a katz / Shutterstock.com.
Comment: Do you believe what Trump said was harmless ‘locker room talk?’