The current explanation (because it sure as hell isn't an apology) for the misogynist ramblings of Donald Trump and Billy Bush is that it was "locker room talk." Trump said as much in his official response statement and then used it again five times during the debate tonight, in response to questions about the leaked audio recording. It was very clear that his team had coached him to focus on that phrase. As I read and watched more on this issue, I got to thinking about my unique perspective on male "locker room talk" as a bisexual female. Guys who know that I am bi tend to be freer with their language, especially when they realize that they can check out women with me. We discuss women's bodies, yes, including how much we'd like to sleep with them, and I enjoy that camaraderie. But here's the thing: I have never heard such despicable things from my male friends. Our "locker room talk" does not include incitements to sexual assault.
Maybe the kind of guys who accept that I'm bi, are friends with me, and check out girls with me aren't the type that would ever engage in that kind of "locker room talk." Maybe it's because I'm female, which overrides the fact that I am as attracted to women as they are. But in my world, incitements to non-consensual kissing, or worse, are not normal.
Calling references to sexual assault "locker room talk" does not make them normal or permissible. The most troubling thing about these men's "locker room talk" is how it affected their interaction with actress Arianne Zucker once they got off that bus. Bush goaded her into hugging Trump and himself, and the three walked off arm in arm - all completely unnecessary physical contact that I doubt would have happened without the "locker room banter" that happened on the bus. It's no wonder that Bush was just suspended from the Today show.
What has been encouraging has been seeing so many men in my life speak out against the "locker room talk" explanation, and emphasize that this type of "banter" is not normal or acceptable. Yes I realize that there are guys out there who engage in this type of talk and behavior. But the most troubling thing, to me, is the women who aren't concerned by it - who buy into the "locker room talk" explanation and follow it up with "boys will be boys." We don't need boys running this country. We need men who hold themselves to higher standards, and women who are empowered to be their equals.
Whether you're straight or queer, and no matter your political affiliation, I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue. Have you experienced "locker room talk" like this? How do you think we should address it?