Such was the case during Sunday night’s presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. In the context of explaining the leaked 2005 audio and video in which Trump makes lewd and crude comments about women that cross into the territory of sexual assault, the Republican nominee Sunday said he was engaging in “locker room talk.”
That might be a catch-all term to describe what happens behind close doors, but it also speaks to a certain type of aggressive male culture presumed to be found in sports.
As such, plenty of former and current athletes jumped into the fray to basically say it didn’t sound like any kind of talk they’ve ever heard in the locker room.
The Huffington Post rounded up some of the best comments. Kendall Marshall, who played for the 76ers in the NBA last season, tweeted, “PSA: sexual advances without consent is NOT locker room talk.” Oakland A’s pitcher Sean Doolittle added, “As an athlete, I’ve been in locker rooms my entire adult life and uh, that’s not locker room talk.”
Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post found some other good examples:
Safety Colin Jones of Carolina Panthers tweeted, “Let’s get one thing straight. That’s not locker room talk, that’s sexual assault talk.” Scott Fujita, who played for the Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Browns before retiring in 2013, said, “There’s plenty of offensive, inappropriate language that’s used in locker rooms, but I don’t recall ever hearing a teammate casually boast about a criminal sexual act, even in jest.”
Now, it would be dangerous to suggest this is the 100 percent majority view. What I mean by that is an athlete who HAS heard that kind of talk in a locker room — if such a thing had occurred — probably wouldn’t rush onto Twitter to say so.
What seems to be clear, though, is that if Trump is trying to dismiss what he said 11 years ago as the sort of thing that happens all the time behind the closed doors of a locker room, he has miscalculated how most men talk — and particularly how those who actually work inside of locker rooms talk.