Your Locker Room Is Not My Locker Room

I’ve spent a lot of time in locker rooms. As a high school and short-lived college athlete, locker room banter played an important role in my cultural socialization. It laid the building blocks for long-lasting friendships. And — most memorably — it’s how I learned to do the sex things.

That’s right, sex things. Scottie Nell Hughes, if your daughter is reading this article, now would be the time to have her close the window (or, you know, have a conversation about consent and body positivity, your call).

In locker rooms we talked about technique. We talked about strategy. We shared highlights and lowlights. We talked openly about sex, sexuality, penises, and pussies. Some might call it lewd. No one would call it sexual assault.

Enter: Donald Trump. When a leaked tape capturing Mr. Trump’s super-rapey language made headlines, he kind of apologized….

Screenshot from a Vox video tweet, demonstrating Trump’s unfamiliarity with both locker rooms and sexual assault laws. (https://twitter.com/voxdotcom/status/785468707581497346)

To brush aside language that describes sexual assault as “locker room talk” is dangerous. It equates force and coercion with the spoils of cis-manhood. It suggests that, so long as the world isn’t listening, you are entitled to be as villainous as you please. It also suggests that you might have not spent much time in a locker room.

In reading the transcript of the leaked tape, I stumbled upon a troubling thought: maybe Trump really didn’t know he was describing sexual assault. Maybe the line between lewd and literal rape isn’t that clear. If a successful businessperson like Trump could get trapped in Robin Thicke’s blurred lines, could the rest of America?

In an effort to clear up this confusion, I compared several lines from the leaked tape that that share vague similarities to conversations I’ve overheard in locker rooms. Heads up family-friendly readers of Ameri-blog: this gets lewd.

Trump: I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait…

Real Life Locker Room (RLLR): Should I get some Listerine strips? What about Tic Tacs? You know, in case he’ll let me kiss him after I go down on him. Whenever I go for the post-act kiss, and he brushes me away.

Similarity: Breath fresheners

Critical Fucking Difference (CFD): The first situation describes a nonconsensual interaction. The second situation describes an ungrateful blowjob recipient.

Trump: And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything

RLLR: When you qualify for the NCAA meet, they’ll let you do anything. I skipped squats for a week. Coach never said anything. Also I got laid last night.

Similarity: Feeling of superiority

CFD: On the one hand, a person is using their position of power to coerce someone into sexual acts. On the other hand, a Division III athlete is being an asshole.

Bush: Whatever you want. (In response to Trump saying, that you can do anything to a women when you are a “star.”)

RLLR: Whatever you say. (In response to a friend who thought her lover would leave his girlfriend.)

Similarity: Supports the unhealthy mindset of a peer

CFD: One situation describes sexual assault through coercion; the other describes romantic delusion.

Trump: Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.

RLLR: Stop grabbing your pussy, it’s not going to do anything.

Similarity: Pussy-grabbing

CFD: While the first situation describes sexual assault by force, the second scenario describes a highly ineffective cure for a UTI.


If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence, consider reaching out for support. The National Sexual Assault Hotline is free, confidential, and available 24/7 (800.656.HOPE and online.rainn.org).

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