Locker Room

Maybe Trump was on to something with the locker room talk

Among a sufficient number of American voters, Donald Trump’s description of the infamous Access Hollywood tape as being just locker room talk worked. The reaction of most people who were abhorred what Trump said was to dismiss his explanation (not excuse) as a disregard of the seriousness of his words and actions.

But maybe we should not be so casual in dismissing what he said about locker room talk. The locker room may not be where it all starts, but it certainly is where it is fermented. The locker room can be a euphemism for wherever boys and men tend to gather, exclusive of the company of women.

There are places where men tend to brag and mock others, often women. It may or may not have anything to do with the penises that always accompany them into the room. What’s important is that for many men, perhaps not all, gathering leads to bravado, conceit, and often disregard for others, again, most particularly, women.

Bragging and mocking are not exclusive to the domain of men.  Women can be exceptionally cruel when it comes to the likes of gossip, particularly in the new-found realms of social media. If we are going to find a solution to men behaving badly, we probably are going to have to include women in the solution for two reasons:

  1. Women are not immune from bad behavior; they too can learn.
  2. Women can educate men in that wide arc of vision that forms their blind spots.

Without the benefit of empirical evidence, I’m going to hazard a guess that pushing the limits was part and parcel of the persona of Al Franken and Charlie Rose when they were young. Franken as much as admitted it in his book Giant of the Senate.

I tend to vomit when I hear adults say to students, “the future of the world depends on you.” That’s because the baby-boomer generation and every other one before us heard the same platitude and look where it has gotten us. We have to do more than utter throw-away lines to children and young adults.

But it is not all dismal. There are schools which emphasize no teasing or mocking or embarrassing anyone else. I have seen them and been part of them. If you have a critical balance of teaches who truly believe this and can model the behavior, it can and will trickle down to most of the students.

Many of those students are at those very schools because their parents want environments for their children which in no way resemble a locker room, or a locker room-to-be.

Conservatives talk a lot about values, but since there is so much hypocrisy in the way many conservatives practice their values, we may have to look to progressives for real values education. Make no mistake, hypocrisy is alive and well on the left. But there are those among the more educated who have some sense of how improve human behavior. You probably see that in places where people brag a lot less than in the typical locker room.

So, thank you Donald Trump for pointing us in a direction where we can focus on creating fewer little Trumps running around amongst us. That will help make America better, in a more modest and more well-behaved way.

  • Stacy Mergenthal

    I worry that sensitivity to others or conscientiousness is misinterpreted as being “politically correct”, which as you know is something conservatives either practice or abhor when it is convenient, and as a result people are moving away from the behavior. Many of these issues rely on a level of critical thinking that is largely absent amongst the rightwing; there is clearly a difference between political correctness and basic decency. (It doesn’t help that the more turgid and licentious one is, e.g. Trump, the more media coverage they get.) I hope society corrects course on this because it feels like we’re moving backwards in time.