Shutting Down the Locker Room Forever

DC Politics National Politics

old-dominion-fraternity-photoJuneau    The Trump defense for groping and sexual assault seems to be, “hey, that’s what men do.” His rationale for the taped clips that have emerged is equally offensive. There was no apology, simply a rationalization, where he is essentially arguing that what he was caught saying a decade ago is simply “locker room” talk or, worse, that everyone does it. All men and women should be horrified to hear that lame defense, because it demeans all women and indicts all men by claiming that it is normal or, worse, that Trump is trying to pretend that’s just the way all men are.

Let’s be clear: it is NOT the way all men are.

Let’s also be honest. It may have been the way most men were.

It may have been the way many men were raised, but that was 50 or 60 years ago in this country. It should never have been, and it is not the way most men are raised now. It is also why we have seen a women’s movement rise up in this country and around the world. That cultural and systemic stain is why many men have risen to the challenge and tried to leech out the misogyny embedded in the dominant culture, which is not to claim the job has been done or even done well. Dealing with gender, like dealing with race, is a lifetime project and must be a constant concern.

We have to ask, where has Trump been that he still believes that this kind of talk and behavior is somehow defensible? Times have been changing, even if they haven’t changed enough, and women – and men – should never stand for this behavior.

A social media star and author, Kelly Oxford, tweeted last week:

“Women: tweet me your first assaults. They aren’t just stats. I’ll go first: Old man on city bus grabs my ‘pussy’ and smiles at me, I’m 12.”

The New York Times reported that…

“she was getting as many as 50 responses per minute: often-explicit, first-person accounts of molestation. A hashtag had materialized: “#notokay.” The Twitter posts continued to pour in through the weekend. And by Monday afternoon, nearly 27 million people had responded or visited Ms. Oxford’s Twitter page.”

How can that not make everyone want to weep? Reading some of the tweets was horrifying, but the hope embedded in this reaction is the swelling of a mass protest by women ready to not accept that this is somehow okay and pledging to stop the acceptance of “rape culture” that is so ubiquitous and that Trump now symbolizes. The pushback is everywhere from the disgust at athletes’ abuse of women to the implicit boycott of the new film, “Birth of a Nation,” because of the star and director’s involvement in a rape incident 15 years ago.

Times are changing, but they have obviously not changed enough.

Boys can’t be boys like they were 50 years ago. Boys have to be the men that treat women as equals and condemn and shun any men who do not. Men can’t hide in the way Republican congressman are now doing by pedestaling their wives, daughters, mothers, and sisters and still say they support Donald Trump, because that demeans their wives, daughters, mothers, and sisters and stops change.

The reporter on the Times story editorially wonders if Bill Clinton could have been elected today, rather that almost 25 years ago when the charges of his sexual misconduct were being made. The answer is pretty clear for many, that he would not be elected now, and we can see that answer in end of one political career after another in the 21st century. The answer also has to be that Trump’s behavior and attitude towards women means that he also cannot be elected today.

This notion of a “locker room” culture has to be bolted shut forever. This has to end now and forever.