Trump’s ‘locker-room talk’ cop-out normalizes rape culture

He’s not sorry

By Sarah Stubbs

@sarahxstubbs

Like everyone else, the October surprise wasn’t necessarily a surprise for me. Yes, my jaw still dropped in shock and disgust last Friday night when I listened to the full 2005 tape, but I was not surprised by Donald Trump’s vulgar words:

“I’m automatically attracted to beautiful women – I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything… Grab them by the p—y, you can do anything.”

Trump has apologized, but his apology was and still is laced with pathetic justifications that are furthering his contribution to the normalization of rape culture.

He said that he was sorry, but he was quick to add that his comments were merely “locker-room talk.” He used this cop-out multiple times during the debate when he was confronted about the tape, but he also spent a lot of time turning the conversation to Bill Clinton. He mentioned in his initial apology that he has heard Bill Clinton say far worse on the golf course, and on Sunday he held a pre-debate press conference with former Bill Clinton mistresses and accusers. Finally, during the debate, when Anderson Cooper pressed harder on the issue of the tape, Trump quickly pivoted to talk about ISIS.

All of these weak justifications prove that Trump is not sorry for what he said and he is not sorry for the kind of person he is – one who has no real respect for women nor recognizes women as his equals.

Let’s talk about the “locker-room talk” cop-out first.

By Trump calling his comments “locker-room talk,” he is insisting that it’s normal for men to speak like this when women are not around. We already knew that he talked like this due to a multitude of other sexist comments (that are too long to list in this article) that he has freely said in interviews and in his daily life, but we didn’t know he would come out and say that it’s normal and OK to say crude, sexist things.

Since the debate, I was happy to see hundreds of professional male athletes share on social media that they don’t talk like that in their locker-rooms.

However, this does not diminish the fact that women do not know what men say when they leave a room. It’s anxiety-inducing to say the least – especially when comments about your appearance were made before you left the room.

I’ve had personal experience with this and I know that so many other women have, too. I’ve had men continue trying to seduce me when I flat out told them no, and I’ve also heard recollections of what some men were saying about me when I wasn’t there (hint: it wasn’t about my character or personality, it was about how many people they thought I slept with and whether or not I seemed like a girl who would try to keep her “body count” low).

Now, I know all men don’t do this. Most men don’t. But excusing Trump’s statements as “locker-room talk” or laughing them off (unfortunately, I follow individuals on Twitter who thought that the tape was funny) is so frightening to me because in the tape, he is literally bragging about sexual assault. He talks about how he moves on women automatically and just grabs them because he’s a “star” and he can.

Beyond the locker-room buzz, Trump trying to turn the conversation to Bill Clinton’s bleak past was an unnecessary and pathetic attempt to remedy the situation and further contributed to the normalization of rape culture.

Professional photographer and intersectional feminist Melissa Kreider said it best: “Donald Trump using sexual assault survivors as leverage is just another indicator that he views women as objects. Sexual assault is not a spectacle or sideshow.”

Not only is Bill Clinton’s infidelity irrelevant because Bill is not running for president, Trump’s focus on it is extremely hypocritical. Trump is a repeated adulterer and has several sexual assault complaints filed against him as well. In the infamous 2005 tape, we hear him bragging about making unwelcome advances on a married woman while being married to Melania.

As a feminist, I am disgusted by both men’s past behavior and my heart hurts for all of the survivors. My heart also hurts, though, for Hillary Clinton because for many, Bill’s mishaps are the first thing they think of when they think of her. They don’t think about her years of service for women and children. They don’t think about her political experience and personal successes. They think about Monica Lewinsky.

Hillary Clinton’s husband’s past has no correlation with the kind of president she will be, but Trump continues to make that one of the primary focuses of his campaign. You won’t see HRC holding press conferences about Trump’s sexual misconduct, she is too busy talking about her policies and goals for America.

Finally, the way that Trump responded when Anderson Cooper asked him if he understood that he was bragging about sexual assault was a testament to male privilege. Trump insisted that Cooper didn’t understand what was said in the tape, called it “locker-room talk” again, and then proceeded to talk about ISIS.

Dismissing his sexist, predatory comments by saying that there are bigger fish to fry in this world, to quote Cleveland.com reporter Nikki Delamotte, was “peak male privilege.” Cooper directly asked a question about sexual assault. Trump said he would “knock the hell out of ISIS.” Cooper followed-up, Trump said he had “great respect for women” and then went on to talk about border control and national security.

If Trump had great respect for women, he would not have said the things he said in that tape, he would not have talked about Miss Universe the way that he did, he wouldn’t have assumed Megyn Kelly was on her period, he wouldn’t call his daughters hot before he calls them successful, and he would not have justified his words as “locker-room talk.”

 

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