COLUMN: Trumps comments spark a need for change in locker rooms


Donald Trump attempted to use the locker room excuse to move past his comments regarding sexual assault, and while it shouldn't be glossed over so easily, did bring to light the issue of locker room banter in locker rooms across the country. Tribune News Service Buy Photos

We have to talk about locker rooms.

During Sunday’s Town-Hall-turned-Fight-Club match, Donald Trump was asked about the recently uncovered “Access Hollywood” tapes in which he suggested he was entitled to demean and degrade women because of his fame, including the infamous statement that he could “grab (women) by the pussy.”

Even with a defiant apology early in the week, Trump downplayed the importance of the statements declaring it was just “locker room talk.” Trump and his surrogates have exploited this response in an attempt to pass off the statements as just clubhouse talk and something insignificant.

Trump is wrong; he’s also right.

This is by no means an endorsement of the Republican nominee’s declarations. They were misogynistic, rude, demeaning and thoughtless. What Trump is correct about, however, is that this is the type of talk that occurs in locker rooms.

Throughout high school, I was a three-sport varsity athlete: cross-country, basketball and tennis. I have seen my share of locker rooms. In my time in this purgatory between the classroom and sporting arena, I never heard anything as lewd and gratuitous as Trump’s remarks, some things were pretty close.

At a predominately white school, there were some derogatory comments made about race, including words I don’t think are fit to print in the Indiana Daily Student. Disparaging fellow classmates, oftentimes women, seemed the norm, and there was a culture of belittling and attacking that was of a cartoonish and at times ghastly nature.

What Trump said was definitively bad, yet it would pass in most locker rooms. This talk propagates a culture of chauvinism and machismo that needs to be addressed.

After Trump’s remarks, many athletes came out of the woodwork stating they had never been in locker rooms with this type of culture and sentiment, but that seems hard to believe.

Ethan Sherwood Strauss, ESPN’s contributing basketball writer, tweeted his thoughts on the matter and how he had witnessed conversations with the same tone as Trump’s in person.

“Was looking for a way to convey how horrific locker room talk can get without coming close to defending DT,” Strauss wrote. “Like, I’ve heard far worse than the ‘grab ‘em’ line, awful as it is. And I’m the police. Can only imagine how it gets when I’m gone.”

Brushing his comments off as what happens in the clubhouse may be Trump’s best contribution to society this election season. It gives us a chance to scrutinize what really goes on in the “boys’ club” and start to look for a way to fix it.

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