October 14, 2016

Down w/ Locker Room Banter.

This post is shamelessly inspired by TW’s post on FB about something her daughter said, but it’s been on my mind since last week.

It’s easy to say that what Donald Trump said in that Access Hollywood tape was vile – especially when he claims it’s locker room banter. But the issue is that the more we talk about how it isn’t locker room banter, we ignore what men do talk about in spaces where they feel like they can say whatever is on their mind.

Sure, I’m a woman. But I’ve worked in a lot of male dominant jobs and have a lot of guy friends. So I’ve heard a lot of things over the years. Mostly from close male friends complaining about how they were disgusted by conversations.

Things like male coworkers discussing the ‘color of the day’ about underwear that women were wearing. Rating women on scales, often to their faces. Coming up with unflattering nicknames used behind the woman’s back. Sharing pictures their girlfriends sent them, that probably weren’t intended to be shared. Talking about how they cheat on their significant others.

And that’s “normal.” That’s “acceptable.” That’s also rape culture. (Which, for those new here is all the stuff we do as a society that normalizes sexual violence. Like wondering what a victim was wearing or what they were doing, not placing the blame on the aggressor. Discounting assault as boys will be boys.)

No, really. When you discuss women in a way that reduces them to an image or a prize – you strip humanity from them. When you do that again and again and again, it makes it somehow “acceptable” or not that bad when someone ignores basic consent.

All women have been the target of this. From the guy whistling on the street, shouting some obscenity. To actual sexual assault. All women. (And odds are, if you think you haven’t- it’s because it’s something you’ve been taught to accept as being about modesty or just being something that men do. Which is also part of rape culture.)

I have been groped (numerous times). Stalked twice, one was in HS and school admin told me I should be flattered he was interested in me. Cornered by men who felt like I owed them their time, so that they could flirt, knowing that they were twice my size and I wouldn’t get away. I’ve been hit on by skeevy fathers while working at Disneyland. As in, while I was working. (And, let’s not forget the Thing) Guys who openly said they were looking forward to seeing me at beach parties, then looked right at my breasts. Older Guy who saw me at lunch with my dad, assumed he was my sugar daddy or something, and slipped me his card saying I could do so much better.

There was a lot of less obvious stuff, too. Guys who befriended me, then when they found out I was engaged… quit talking to me entirely. Or told me to “put them next in line if things don’t work out” with TheBoy. Or who did something nice for me, only to use it as an opportunity to hit on me (and get mad when I told them I wasn’t single). The people who told me I didn’t dress like an engaged girl. The people who couldn’t fathom a guy and girl actually being platonic friends. Dress codes where I wore a normal skirt, but was told it was “distracting to guys”.

All things that show that a lot of men don’t see me as a person with her own life. I’m an object. A prize. And I can guarantee that every woman you know has similar stories. Some better. Some much worse. But the common thread is that somewhere along these lines made these men think they had the right to our time or our bodies – or that they were entitled to more out of life than we were.

It all adds up.

So yeah, blast Trump for his words and actions. But acknowledge that we still have a long way to go when it comes to dismantling rape culture.

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