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Tackling Trump’s locker room defence

Parental Warning: Donald Trump will be mentioned in this article.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has strongly denied that he had sexually assaulted women after a leaked video captured him saying that because of his fame, he could “grab [women] by the p***y.”

The video has prompted some Republicans to distance themselves from the candidate and forced Trump to make a defiant apology this past weekend, which he naturally botched.

Trump downplayed the recording as nothing more than some good ol’ fashioned “locker room talk.”

Not once, but three times!

Firstly, “I don’t think you understood what was…this was locker room talk. I’m not proud of it. I apologise to my family. I apologise to the American people. Certainly I’m not proud of it. But this is locker room talk.”

Secondly, “Yes, I’m very embarrassed by it. I hate it. But it’s locker room talk, and it’s one of those things.”

Finally, “It was locker room talk, as I told you. That was locker room talk. I’m not proud of it. I am a person who has great respect for people, for my family, for the people of this country. And certainly, I’m not proud of it. But that was something that happened.”

American athletes were very quick to point out to Trump that his comments were not in fact ‘locker room talk’, as they know it.

Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford simply tweeted, “Locker room??”

Portland Trailblazers guard CJ McCollum said he hadn’t heard any “locker room talk” like that before.

Oakland A’s Pitcher Sean Doolittle tweeted, “As an athlete, I’ve been in locker rooms my entire adult life and uh, that’s not locker room talk.”

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Dahntay Jones said, “claiming Trump’s comments are “locker room banter” is to suggest they are somehow acceptable. They aren’t.”

Philadelphia 76ers guard Kendall Marshall insisted “sexual advances without consent is NOT locker room talk.”

Former Olympic hurdler Queen Harrison said “”Locker room talk”, “Boys will be boys”, “Harmless banter”. These are not valid excuses for behavior. Never have been, never will be.”

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Chris Conley elaborated, “Just for reference. I work in a locker room (every day)…that is not locker room talk. Just so you know. Have I been in every locker room? No. But the guys I know and respect don’t talk like that. They talk about girls but not like that.”

Conley’s comments caused some to defend Trump to which he replied, “Apart from this debate and apart from the election, I’m appalled how many of you are tweeting me that talking and acting that way is ok. If that’s the talk you hear around you then be the place where change begins. Regardless of this election let’s be a better people.”

All this defense from American athletes (and there are many more examples than the ones I just used) had me very interested to hear what some of our local sporting identities thought on the matter. So I contacted a number of them for responses.

Scott Jamieson, who has a long association with the Tumut Blues was bemused by the question at first wondering what prompted it? When the comment was given it’s back story, Jamieson simply replied, “not in any locker room I’ve been in.”

Joel Toohey has long been a mainstay of the Tumut Blues locker room and gave further insight. “I think there has always been some small element of ‘sex’ talk in the sheds. The sanctity of the sheds offering a safe environment for freedom of speech and banter.

“But before anyone gets the idea this is all we talk about can I say that sport, television, injuries, team problems, faith, family, friends, movies, music and current events are all far more widely discussed issues.

“There is also a big difference between bawdy talk and what Trump has said. Nobody in my time has ever claimed to have the right to sexually assault someone. The locker room would be as inappropriate a place for comments like these as any other place and the sheds wouldn’t save the propagator of words or thoughts like these from widespread condemnation.”

It was also repeatedly pointed out to me that the comments came not from a sportsman in a locker room or laborer in a front bar, as unacceptable as either of those cases would be, but from someone vying for the highest office in America.

So whilst the consensus was largely that Trump’s comments were unacceptable coming from any man, they were especially unacceptable coming from someone in his position.

For talk like this is not the talk of leaders.

What Trump is saying by invoking the phrase “locker room” over and over again is that when guys are in the sheds this is their modus operandi and part of their alpha code.

He is justifying the comments by saying the locker room is an acceptable place, indeed the place for such comments.

This characterising of such a thing as being commonplace is doubly worrying for it suggests that sexual obsession is the immutable trait of successful sporting maleness.

It’s as demeaning to men, especially athletes, as it is to women.

There are a small number of guys (and their number is diminishing) who will always make lewd comments or crude boasts about their sexual exploits. But here’s what I’ve always found interesting: They’re never the most admired men in the locker-, or any, room.

“I’ve never seen a leader, or a team captain resort to slime to establish respect in the locker room,” said Hall of Famer Reggie Williams, the former NFL Man of the Year.

“There are narcissist players who think more about the scoreboard in their bedroom than the scoreboard in the stadium. Those aren’t leaders.”

Finally, a man, especially a leader, owns up. That’s why Donald Trump neither makes a very good man, nor a prospective a leader worthy of support.