‘Locker room talk’ and rape culture: Drawing a line


Donald Trump’s controversial comments compared to attitudes that led to Brock Turner’s behavior.

Madison Rexroat

In a Huffington Post article comparing Donald Trump’s most recent controversial comments to the behavior that led Brock Turner to rape an intoxicated woman, writer Amy Siskind brought up various points regarding rape culture and sweeping such behavior under the rug.

Anyone who watched the presidential debate following the release of the notorious microphone audio will tell you that Trump responded to questions about his 2005 conversation with former NBC reporter, Billy Bush, by calling it ‘locker room talk’ and then, well, changing the subject to ISIS.

While the abrupt transition to ISIS might have sounded odd, it did actually say something very important about Trump’s view on the subject of sexual assault. By changing the subject to something ‘more important,’ Trump simultaneously told women and voters everywhere that sexual assault is not something that needs to be discussed. According to Siskind, however, it is.

Sexual assault is often one of the trickier subjects to consider – especially in a courtroom. There are blurred lines, he said she said stories, and often misunderstandings of what exactly happened. This is where Trump’s ‘locker room talk’ comes into play. If crude and derogatory language toward women is normalized, especially by such a public figure, how are future generations supposed to understand the line between mere words and physical action?

Siskind suggests that parents must teach their children the difference far before they might be exposed to such behavior. That includes teaching them the meaning of consent and discouraging behavior like that of Trump and Bush, who in the video was heard laughing and perhaps even encouraging Trump’s inappropriate rant.

What Siskind emphasizes is that words, even if not blatantly acted on by those that say them, can lead to general attitudes that can then lead to despicable behaviors. With 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men being victims of sexual assault while in college, it is crucial that this issue be discussed instead of downplayed. College should be a fun and rewarding experience, not one of paranoia and discrimination, and perpetuating a culture that turns a blind eye (or ear) to derogatory remarks will only continue what we have all witnessed as 2016 unfolds.