There have been a lot of interesting (read: appalling) political events in the last few days. Hopefully, you’re somewhat aware of them if you’re an American voter.
Late last week a tape was released revealing Republican nominee Donald Trump talking (read: bragging) in 2005 about how he sexually assaults women, pursues married women and can do it all because he’s a “star”. (If you haven’t seen this yet, I’m sure you can Google it.)
He then, in 2016, responded saying it was “locker room talk”. He then repeated this phrase – multiple times – in last night’s debate when the 2005 tape came up.
This is a problem. For a lot of reasons. Like:
- We should not have a president (or presidential nominee) that has a track record of assaulting anybody.
- Lots of Republicans that seemingly weren’t upset by all the shit he’s said and done before this, are suddenly pulling their endorsements. And talking about America’s “wives and daughters” as if we are only defined by our relationship to men. We’re just people. That don’t want to be assaulted.
- Donald Trump is clearly not sorry. The simple fact that he’s justifying his actions by calling it locker room talk shows he’s not sorry.
- In the debate last night, he said they were “just words”. Just words he used when he talked about knowing a woman doesn’t want his hands or mouth on her and forcing his hands or mouth on her.
All of this is disgusting and upsetting and terrifying. But I want to focus on these ideas of “locker room talk” and “just words”.
Obviously, Mr. Trump did not know this audio would be released of him speaking about women in this way. He thought he was having a private conversation. Just like whatever is said in a locker room is probably a private conversation.
But kind of like the phrase “a drunk person’s words are a sober person’s thoughts”, how one jokes or talks in one’s private conversations are probably how one really feels. So it is no argument at all to say he didn’t know this would be released to the world. Mr. Trump spoke about assaulting women in private because he knows it’s not something he should talk about in public. On some level, he knows it’s wrong.
I’ve long believed this: how we speak and act in our homes or in private is a reflection of our character. And I do think a lot of men speak about women in a different way when women are present vs. when they’re not. This doesn’t in and of itself have to be a negative thing. But before saying something about a group of people, we all should try stopping and thinking about if we’d still say it if members of that group were present. If the answer is no, it’s probably not something we should be saying.
I don’t buy the arguments of, “well, I was just joking” or “no one is around that would be offended”. No. If you think it’s okay to joke about racism, then you’re surely actively racist in your public life – whether you realize it or not. If you joke about women in derogatory terms, I’m willing to bet you’re a sexist and that that reveals itself in your day to day life.
As an intersectional feminist, I want to change people’s hearts, not just how they act or speak in front of others. I want to aid in eradicating sexism and misogyny at the heart and mind level. Maybe that’s a lofty goal. But I know it’s a worthwhile one.
And it starts with how you speak to yourself. It starts with how you speak to your friends. It starts with how you speak to friends when you think no one else is listening.
I’ve heard a lot of people in the last few days say that no, Donald Trump’s comments are not an example of locker room talk. And that may, by and large, be true. But Mr. Trump’s excuse is that it is locker room talk, how men talk when women aren’t around, how men talk to make themselves look cool. He thinks that’s okay – and I haven’t even touched on what his words mean, that he apparently literally assaults women – because that’s how men are allowed to talk about women.
Nope. I’m not buying it and I hope you’re not either.