“Locker room talk” is indicative of a larger issue

Mackenzie Clarke , News Editor

We live in a modern society in which the idea of rape and sexual assault in schools is confined to a news story and Twitter hashtag about Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner. The Turner case surfaced a national discussion about the prevalence of sexual assault on college campuses. But what about high school campuses? What about our country?
As of 2016, 54 percent of rapes go unreported, and although the reasons behind this statistic are complicated and delicate, a large issue lies within our society itself. The trend in our country to stray away from talking about topics like this is not only problematic in itself, but also allows for the perpetuation of the idea that sexual harassment and assault are somehow normal or can be written off as “boys will be boys.” It is not my belief nor my intention to antagonize men; additionally, this is not a stereotypical categorization of all men. However, I believe that it is crucial to have this conversation with boys at an early age—respect for women and all people should be instilled in our societal norms.
According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), females aged 15-19 are four times more likely than the general population (made up of males of all ages and women older than 19) to be victims of rape or sexual assault.
These numbers are discouraging to say the least, but they are also indicative of a larger issue. Recently, the term “rape culture” has been buzzing in social media and in the news—and with justifiable reason. The way in which women are portrayed and treated in the media and pop culture is dangerous. Just because a song lyric says something disrespectful about women, that makes it ok, right?
The anger and disgust I felt when listening to the audio recording of Donald Trump boasting that “when you’re famous, you can do anything to women,” was almost tangible. The recording just got worse as it went on, and I remember thinking to myself that this was going to be the tipping point of the election. I thought to myself, after this, how could anyone vote for him? How could women vote for him?
To me, this should not be a Democratic or Republican issue. This is a bipartisan, universal concept of treating women and all people with respect. Two days later as I sat watching the second Presidential Debate, his words kept playing over in my mind. I’m sure I was not the only one deeply sickened by how casual his declaration of sexual assault was, or how nonchalant Billy Bush’s reaction was. When questioned about the incident, Trump wrote his filthy words off as “locker room talk.” In fact, he repeated the term three times. At this point, my disgust had materialized from indignation to fear.
I am afraid that this public figure’s “locker room talk” attitude will get swept under the carpet. We will all see the SNL skits and laugh, watch the CNN reports and gasp, but what message here is being exposed to little boys? Teenage ones? Sexual assault and sexual harassment are not light issues, nor are they something that anyone should joke about.
The objectification of women is not “locker room talk.” It is my sincerest hope that lewd comments bordering sexual harassment are not discussion points in Sequoia locker rooms, or any high school locker room. As an athlete, I am offended by the insinuation that this is normal behavior for males. In fact, the thought terrifies me.
However, I also have witnessed first-hand how deeply this attitude toward women and sexual violence is ingrained in our society. Why weren’t we more shocked when we heard the lewd comments? Why were there people out there who saw no issue with the comments or behavior?
With election day right around the corner, I hope that the future of our country does not continue on this dangerous trend. One in three-to-four girls will be sexually harassed or abused before graduating from high school. In a world like this, locker room talk is not an excuse.