Locker-Room Talk // Megan Mansfield

Photo by: Steve Sack, Star Tribune

            While there have been enough derogatory statements made throughout this election season to create an entire book series, I would like to hone in on one in particular.  Recently, a video recording of our potential next President, Donald Trump, was released in which he repeatedly demeans women’s bodies and exerts his perceived entitlement to any woman’s body (Fahrenthold, 2016).  Of course, his recent comments are beyond disturbing but hearing a notorious misogynist  (Cohen, 2016; Bahadur, 2016; Bloom, 2016; Graves, 2016; Mak & Zadrozny, Mindock, 2016; 2015; Nelson, 2016) speak as though he is entitled to any woman’s body was far from surprising.

            The statement I would like to focus on is, “locker-room talk” (Jenkins, 2016).  Upon the public release of this disturbing recording, Donald Trump did not admit to any wrong-doing, did not genuinely apologize for his vulgar statements, but instead attempted to take down every man with him.  At that moment, Donald Trump did much more than confirm what we all already knew about him; he elicited significant and powerful reactions, and gave us the opportunity to respond.  On one hand, this incident has been a wonderful opportunity for men, particularly athletes and feminists, to stand up against rape culture and overtly express support for their mothers, daughters, sisters, wives and friends.  On the other hand, this deplorable attempt at an excuse has also given men the opportunity to admit they too, perpetuate the very rape culture that has undoubtedly impacted their mothers, daughters, sisters, wives and friends.  Let me be clear: Trump was discussing acts which constitute as sexual assault, discussing sexually assaulting women is not “locker-room talk,” it is not to be dismissed as “boys will be boys,” it is not an indication of power, and it is so far from anything we, as a society, should accept from anyone, let alone someone who may be handed a wealth of power.  This hateful and derogatory speech, which promotes violence against women and girls, could only possibly be produced by an emotionally impaired and deeply insecure being.  As Michelle Obama recently so gracefully put it, “strong men don't need to put down women to make themselves feel powerful” (Cillizza, 2016).  In addition to being insulted as a woman, I feel as though the good men in my life have been insulted as well.  By eluding to the idea that this is how men speak with each other, Donald Trump is accusing all men of being as emotionally impaired and as deeply insecure as he.

            Donald Trump has made an effort to divide groups of American’s, and we are being given the opportunity to either fall victim to his attempts or stand up against his attempts.  I invite you to use this opportunity to learn more about those you surround yourself with and use your personal experiences to teach.  Get curious, ask uncomfortable questions, make this personal, and use the opportunity to empower not only yourself but also those around you.  When someone claims it is acceptable to “grab (a woman) by the pussy,” clarify if they are admitting they are okay with another man bragging about about sexually assaulting their mother, wife, or daughter.  Offer a new perspective, “can you please repeat your comment with your mother, wife or young daughter in mind?”  Discuss rape culture and use the opportunity to educate, "these are just words until your loved one becomes the one of the millions of women who have been sexually assaulted” (RAINN, 2016).  While this incident is undoubtedly angering and upsetting, I truly believe that we as feminists should be able to use our emotion in a productive manner by engaging in civil, data-driven conversations regarding the devastating impact that the perpetuation of rape culture has on all of us humans.  I encourage you to use this opportunity we've been given to genuinely appreciate feminist men who object to this behavior as well as the opportunity to learn more about, empower, and influence those who feel the need to support rape culture.  Conversation leads to action, let’s do what we can to produce actions that lead to empowerment and equality rather than fear and oppression.

Bahadur, N. (2016). 18 real things Donald Trump has actually said about women. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from donald-trump-has-said-about-women_us_55d356a8e4b07addcb442023

Bloom, L. (2016). Why the new child rape case filed against Donald Trump should not be ignored. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from

Cillizza, C. (2016). Michelle Obama’s speech on Donald Trump was remarkable. The Washington Post. Retrieved from 2016/10/13/michelle-obama-just-put-a-huge-and-emotional-exclamation-point-on-trumps-hot-mic-tape/ 

Cohen, C. (2016). Donald Trump sexism tracker: Every offensive comment in one place. The Telegraph. Retrieved from sexism-tracker-every-offensive-comment-in-one-place/

Fahrenthold, D. A. (2016) Trump recorded having extremely lewd conversation about women in 2005. The Washington Post. Retrieved from trump-recorded-having-extremely-lewd-conversation-about-women-in-2005/2016/10/07/3b9ce776-8cb4-11e6-bf8a-3d26847eeed4_story.html

Graves, L. (2016). Jill Harth speaks out about alleged groping by Donald Trump. The Guardian. Retrieved from assault-allegations-jill-harth-interview

Jenkins, S. (2016). Donald Trump’s idea of ‘locker room talk’ is as demeaning to men as it is to women. The Washington Post. trumps-idea-of-locker-room-talk-is-as-demeaning-to-men-as-it-is-to-women/ 2016/10/10/7e34718a-8eee-11e6-a6a3-d50061aa9fae_story.html

Mak, T. & Zadrozny, B. (2015). Ex-Wife: Donald Trump Made Me Feel ‘Violated’ During Sex. The Daily Beast.

Mindock, C. (2016). Donald Trump accused of raping 13-year-old girl: Lawsuit from Casey Anthony attorney allowed in federal court. International Business Times. Retrieved by anthony-attorney-allowed-2430441

Nelson, L. (2016). Donald Trump's history of misogyny, sexism, and harassment: a comprehensive review. Vox. Retrieved from donald-trump-leaked-audio-recording-billy-bush-sexism

Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). (2016). Retrieved from

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