Locker Room Talk: Why ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ Isn’t an Excuse

Just because something is normalized doesn’t mean it’s justified

I look around my college campus, my lecture halls, even my own apartment and see the faces of women filled with rage, but mostly exhaustion.

In light of Trump’s sexually predatory comments, the overwhelming consensus of our nation is that no one is really surprised by his behavior. The most troubling facet of this issue isn’t the fact that his comments failed to shock people, it’s that many aren’t all that concerned.

“I know how some men talk, and that’s how I saw it… sometimes I say I have two boys at home, I have my young son and I have my husband,” Melania Trump said defending her husband’s comments to CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

At a Trump rally in Pennsylvania, one wife, mother and Trump supporter assured Jordan Klepper from The Daily Show, “It’s locker room talk. That’s just what boys do.”

Pointing out instances in which similar kinds of lewd behavior are normalized in no way makes them more acceptable or justifiable. It simply reveals how little progress has been made towards equality and respect for women.

I, like so many others, come from a lineage of women who were taught that prioritizing what’s important for our nation means putting your own body and self-worth at the bottom of that list.

However, these women’s perplexing and seemingly contradictory views are not unique. My own fiercely caring and unwaveringly kind mother believes that while Trump’s comments were incredibly inappropriate, a presidential candidate has “far more important things to focus on.” Hearing those words come out of her mouth serves as a jarring reminder that I, like so many others, come from a lineage of women who were taught that prioritizing what’s important for our nation means putting your own body and self-worth at the bottom of that list.

The political analysis website FiveThirtyEight reported that after Trump’s lewd comments leaked, 74 percent of the Republican Party—women included—said they are still voting for him. However, only 39 percent of the Republican Party believes that Trump truly respects women. Perhaps this is directly correlated to the fact that FiveThirtyEight’s research found Republican women are first and foremost concerned with the state of our nation’s economy, followed by terrorism. Respect for women doesn’t make that short list, either.

The recent hashtag #WomenWhoVoteTrump trended throughout social media, giving Pro-Trump women a chance to defend their controversial candidate choice.

Photographer: Mariah Crabb

Photographer: Mariah Crabb

#WomenWhoVoteTrump aren’t manipulated into voting with their emotions, instead they pay attention to policy.” — @CassandraRules

#WomenWhoVoteTrump aren’t weak, perpetual victims like those on the left.” — @andieiamwhoiam

The hashtag #WomenWhoVoteTrump inadvertently shines a spotlight on the detrimental ways this presidential race has pitted women in this country against one another. It’s incredibly disheartening to think that, in a 2016 presidential election, the topic of sexual assault has morphed into a partisan issue.

The notion that women are weak if they take a stand and admit they’re fed up with being treated unequally is preposterous. Silence does not equate to strength, especially under these circumstances.

A myriad of men and women have since then spoken out against Trump’s comments.

At Southern New Hampshire University, First Lady Michelle Obama strayed from her usual campaign spiel to respond to Trump’s “locker room banter” as a matter of the heart.

“[What Donald said] is cruel. It’s frightening. And the truth is, it hurts. It’s that feeling of terror and violation that too many women have felt when someone has grabbed them, or forced himself on them and they’ve said no but he didn’t listen – something that we know happens on college campuses and countless other places every single day… This isn’t about politics; it’s about basic human decency.”

The dangerous generalization of “locker room talk” being used as a blanket term for sexual assault demeans both men and women.

Trump tweeted in his defense, “I’m not proud of my locker room talk. But this world has serious problems. We need serious leaders.”

He’s absolutely right. Our country deserves a serious leader, one who understands the severe repercussions shoving off sexual assault as a non-issue can have on a nation. It’s a dangerous generalization to use “locker room talk” as a blanket term for sexual assault, and it demeans both men and women.

Michelle Obama urged in her speech, “The men that you and I know don’t treat women this way… This is not politics as usual. This is disgraceful. This is intolerable. It doesn’t matter what party you belong to. Democrat. Republican. Independent. No woman deserves to be treated this way.”

If our society continues to excuse this abhorrent behavior and pass off sexually predatory remarks as ‘boys will be boys,’ America won’t be on its way to being great again— we’ll be hopelessly regressing.