Not Locker Room Talk

Photo Courtesy of | According Madeline Hubbard ’19, Donald Trump’s comments are not what athletes consider to be “locker room talk.”

Photo Courtesy of | According Madeline Hubbard ’19, Donald Trump’s comments are not what athletes consider to be “locker room talk.”

Madeline Hubbard ‘19
Contributing Writer

Most people are keenly aware that Donald Trump always says what he wants and what he thinks. This tendency has brought him trouble in his campaign for President of the United States.  Recently, footage of Trump speaking privately about women, and recounting his unwanted advances, has been made public.  In the recording, Trump details an attempt to have sex with a married woman and brags about the fact that his fame allows him to do with women as he pleases.  The footage shocked and outraged citizens, especially as Trump describes encounters with women that appear to depict actual incidents of sexual assault.

In the second presidential debate, Trump defended his comments by brushing them off as just “locker room talk.” Trump said, “It was locker room talk, as I told you. That was locker room talk. I’m not proud of it. I am a person who has great respect for people, for my family, for the people of this country. And certainly, I’m not proud of it. But that was something that happened.”

In an attempt to downplay his vulgar comments about women, Trump instead defended a society where rape culture is accepted and viewing women as sexual objects is normal. Not only is it appalling that a presidential nominee has uttered such graphic comments, but it is disturbing to insinuate that this kind of talk is tolerated within the athletic community in general. Many professional athletes took a stand against Trump, to refute the claims that this kind of talk about women occurs in locker rooms. Offended that Trump would use athletes to justify his remarks, a former NFL player, Chris Kluwe, wrote an open letter on Vox to Donald Trump wherein he states, “Even the most debauched club-hopping party animal talks about women more civilly than you. We don’t let each other talk like that about women, because it lessens our humanity, and even though we’re modern-day gladiators, we still hold ourselves accountable to the idea of basic human decency.”

Other athletes took to Twitter to combat Trump’s message. Sage Rosenfels, a former NFL player said, “I was a five-sport athlete in high school. Five of college football.  Twelve in the NFL. Guys don’t talk like that in locker rooms.” A former Olympic hurdler, Queen Harrison pointed out that, “‘Locker room talk,’ ‘Boys will be boys,’ ‘Harmless banter.’ These are not valid excuses for behavior. Never have been, never will be.”  Kendall Marshall of the Philadelphia 76ers kept it short and said, “PSA: sexual advances without consent is NOT locker room talk”. Prominent sportscaster Alex Flanagan commented, “I know Trump means ‘locker room talk’ as a metaphor, but does he realize that kind of talk isn’t acceptable even in the locker room?”

Even some college players and teams spoke out, including the Amherst College soccer team. In their recent article, they outline the importance of respect for others in athletics that was so clearly lacking in Trump’s comments. The team wanted to take a stand against this normalized violence against women. They wrote, “We strive to not only keep this kind of offensive talk out of our locker rooms, we also try to actively prevent it elsewhere. We and the other teams at Amherst have made it a priority to speak out and campaign against sexual violence.”

As a person who has been in locker rooms all my life for multiple sports, including some that were co-ed, I have never heard anyone talk with such a lack of respect for another human. I have even been in the ice hockey locker room (sometimes thought of as the worst of all sports locker rooms), and I have not heard these vulgar comments. In my experience, ranging from youth sports up to varsity Division III here at Smith, when they are in the sacred space of the locker room, teams talk about everything from what they ate that day, to how classes are going, to significant others and weekends out, and of course, the game.  Never have I heard someone detail a non-consenting attack on someone else, as Trump did. As someone who has played sports all my life, athletics mean a lot to me and it is insulting that Trump would use athletics and athletes to excuse his possibly criminal behavior.  It’s not locker room talk.

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