On "Locker Room Talk" and Other Emetics

Not that anybody asked, but here's my two cents on the recently revealed tape of Donald Trump bragging to Billy Bush about committing sexual assault: It's gross and horrible, and it's not acceptable for anybody to say things like that.

Okay, here's a slightly longer version.

If you're not familiar with the tape I'm referring to, The Washington Post was the first to break the story after NBC sat on it for four days. That link will give you the rundown, complete with embedded video, but be warned: it's the verbal equivalent of that possum that we found two days after it got stuck under our fence and died. That is to say, it's disgusting, and the passage of time does nothing to improve it. Nothing that comes out of Trump's mouth should come as a shock at this point, considering the array of hateful garbage water he spews on a regular basis, but this still managed to be a special brand of vile, and even turned out to be the final straw for many of his bafflingly staunch supporters.

I'm not the first, and surely I won't be the last to point out that Trump's defense of the video as "locker room talk" is not only inaccurate, but offensive. Many professional athletes are questioning the phrase and insisting that nobody actually talks that way in locker rooms. Brushing it off as something that men just do when they're alone with other men is absurd. It offends me as a man. It diminishes the genuine harm statements like his can cause, whether hyperbolic or not. Dismissing it as "locker room talk" implies that it's fine to talk about sexually assaulting women, to even brag about having done so, as long as you never actually act upon it (which itself is a huge benefit of the doubt to give Trump at this point). It contributes to a culture in which many men think it is okay to act the way Trump describes in the video. The concept of rape culture is not a new one to me (just mention Brock Turner if you want to see me seethe), but I've always clung to the notion that said culture represents a minority of men. The notion that all men secretly think and talk this way would terrify me if I were a woman. The idea that half of the world's population is constantly thinking about ways in which to assault you? And the fact that this idea was suggested by the presidential nominee of a major political party? I asked my wife for her perspective, and though she is a sample size of one, she confirmed that it makes her feel unsafe. Just as distressing, she adds that she is not surprised by it. I am also a sample size of one, and I can't speak for all men, but I can speak for myself.

There's plenty of hot takes out there. I could go on for paragraphs, but this already feels disjointed. Here's why I really wrote this post: I am a man, and I don't talk about sexually assaulting women as if it's an okay thing to do. I don't brag about having done it, because I haven't done it, I won't, I wouldn't, and it's a terrible thing to do to somebody. I've heard plenty of guys talk about sex (presumably consensual). I've heard a great deal of lewd conversation and dirty jokes. Trump's remarks aren't lewd, they're predatory. I cling, like a spider in a whirlwind, to the belief that most men are not like that.

I don't even think I'm, like, a saint or anything. I just try to be a decent human being. Decent human being. It shouldn't be difficult. On November 8th, and on all other days, let it not be rare.