Locker-Room Banter Is Your Excuse?
One of my main goals as a mother of boys is to raise respectful and self sufficient men. Men that don't expect their laundry to be done for them or dinner to be on the table when they get home. I want my boys to grow into men that can be in a mutually supportive relationship with their partner . Men who would never - I mean NEVER - talk about grabbing a woman by her privates and having his way with her (in a locker-room or elsewhere). Men who would cringe when hearing others make crude comments toward a woman. Men who wouldn't think of trying to intimidate or control another human. Men who stand up for women against such behavior. I never dreamed I would be having a conversation with my 9 year old son explaining what 'locker-room banter' is and why that isn't an ok excuse for lewd behavior. How if I ever heard his father making the comments I heard coming from a candidate for President he would be out of the house. Those kind of comments have no place in our society and to use 'locker-room banter' as reasoning that it is ok just blows me away. It is demeaning and it is wrong.
Recently I had a conversation with a group of people where the women threw out the different things they did to protect themselves in every day situations. The men in the group were floored to find out that young women learn early on to walk to and from their cars with their keys between their knuckles and to check under the car as they are approaching. Something I saw on social media regarding Trump's comments and attitude toward women triggered memories of growing up in our rape culture. Memories of every time I felt threatened, demeaned or exploited by men.
I grew up not liking overt attention from men because it usually felt like being looked at like a piece of meat. There was a distinctive look you would get where you felt like someone was looking at you and not seeing you. It is like Roger Rabbit who's eyes bulge and his tongue hangs out when Jessica Rabbit walks in the room. It isn't flattering. It is intimidating and uncomfortable. What kind of world is it when I can't even get into my car after a night at the movies with my friend without a group of boys walking by reach into my car and grab my breast. What kind of world is it that I can't walk up a flight of stairs when out for the night with friends without a guy grabbing me between the legs (yes, exactly what Trump said he would do). What kind of world is it that I can't walk to my car without a very large Nebraska football player putting me in a headlock while his friends look on and laugh when he says he's taking this piece home. Did these actions start as locker-room banter with the guys chuckling? I grew up knowing I shouldn't wear a ponytail because it can be used as a handle for a predator to grab you by. I shouldn't listen to headphones when walking by myself because I may not hear a predator coming up behind me. I needed to be aware of my surroundings at all times and look for the nearest place for safe harbor. In middle school I received a lewd prank call where the man knew my name. My next door neighbor received one the same day and the guy took it further saying he saw her sunbathing in her yard. Over the next couple years girls on our street received calls from this gem of a person and one was attacked but luckily escaped before being raped. You may read this and think I'm paranoid but I challenge you to find a woman that doesn't have at least one story or experience that is similar.
Am I surprised or shocked to hear that Donald J Trump made these comments? No, not really. He has made racist, misogynist, prejudiced, hurtful comments during this whole election. I am, however, saddened that this person is considered a viable candidate for President of the United States. I am saddened that I have to explain 'locker-room banter' to my 9 year old while watching a Presidential debate. I am saddened that I feel like I need to shelter my 9 and 11 year old from a national election. This after nearly a decade of having a true role model in the white house.