It was nice to see so many athletes condemning Trump’s words, but when they said such talk doesn’t happen in locker rooms, I was skeptical. I’ve been in many locker rooms and men’s only spaces and I feel like most men are simply not aware of the awful language used in front of them.
I agree that it’s probably rare for men to explicitly brag about using their status to assault women. That is pretty blatantly terrible. But there have been many more subtle things said in my experience.
The objectification of women regularly occurs in men’s spaces, but also a failure to respect boundaries. For example, they may brag about pestering a woman until she agreed to do something. Not exactly “grabbing her by the pussy” but still problematic. Such talk may not be explicitly admitting sexual assault, but it certainly hovers the line. So I think we shouldn’t be so quick to say men don’t engage in the kind of talk Trump did because in many more subtle ways, we do.Deborah Cameron argues that such talk helps facilitate male bonding and I agree. Unfortunately, such declarations of ignoring boundaries only normalizes some pretty terrible behavior. Such behavior may not even involve sexual assault, but also stalking and harassment.
Thus, it’s on us men to call out these kinds of harmful words when we see them. Don’t remain silent as that can be interpreted as tacit approval. There are resources available for how to be an active bystander and I urge everyone to check them out. We don’t have to worry about having the perfect response because just showing any sort of disapproval can make a difference.