It’s refreshing to see so many men publicly declare that they consider Donald Trump’s recent comments about “grabbing women by the [genetalia],” to be deplorable and completely unacceptable, insisting that they, themselves, have never experienced a “locker room” conversation as offensive as the exchange between Trump and Billy Bush. I, too, would never engage in a dialogue with another person, publicly or privately, that borders on suggesting that I would sexually assault a woman, the way that Donald Trump did. As a matter of fact, to be honest, in a good world, no man should even have to feel that they need to defend their integrity by clarifying their innocence when it comes to this sort of behavior.
But something isn’t sitting well with me in the midst of this latest scandal during the election circus of 2016. You see, the only reason that Donald Trump keeps referring to his conversation as “locker room talk” is because he is confident that the majority of men in our country, at some point in their lives, have made inappropriate remarks about women when in the private company of friends and confidants. So while dozens of great men of high moral character are stepping up and denouncing the type of attitude espoused in Trump’s recorded conversation, we are, in fact, sweeping under the table, the fact that there is a culture in our country that does, quite legitimately, excuse this type of language as somehow acceptable. After all, “boys will be boys,” am I right?
I wish I could send out a tweet or post a Facebook message like all of these men who are so quick to condemn Trump’s statements, but the truth of the matter is, I can’t – I’ve been in that locker room, heck, I was the quarterback of that locker room! And no, I’m not speaking athletically, I was in rock and roll bands growing up; we had “dressing rooms.” But at the end of the day, I have participated in conversations that included a sentiment that was as bad, if not worse, than the conversation I heard between Donald Trump and Billy Bush. College me was very different than the person I am today. There were times in my life where my sole focus included throwing the next party or playing the next gig so that I could find the next girl to “hook up” with. And all of my guy friends were right there with me. We talked about it. We laughed about it. We joked about it. Heck, we not only broadcasted our exploits, we competed over them. But the truth of the matter is, for every man who has come out and said they’ve never experienced the type of conversation Trump was caught having, there are countless numbers of men who have done just that. I don’t care if it was a locker room, a car, an office, a bathroom, a club, or a street corner – there are plenty of men who no longer have the privilege of saying, “not me.”
But we won’t talk about that. We don’t want to admit that Trump’s behavior is simply a shadow form of the worst in so many of us. We don’t want to acknowledge that there is a dominant culture in our society that, at the least, brushes off this type of attitude, and at worst, accepts it as normal and understandable. And I know far too many men who have participated, even relished, in this culture of objectifying women to the point where they regarded as little more than objects, trophies, or pieces of flesh to be conquered and exploited.
To be clear, I’m not defending or excusing Donald Trump’s comments in any way, shape, or form. The words he said should be condemned outright. But I also feel it is necessary to insist that Trump is the symptom of a much bigger disease plaguing our society. The level of defense I have witnessed for Donald Trump’s words, whether it’s referring to his conversation as “locker room talk,” or pointing our that Bill Clinton has said or done worse, or considering his language as typical male behavior, or blaming Hillary Clinton for the way she has treated other women, is damning evidence that our society has yet to mature to a point of decency wherein, at best, women are regarded and treated as equals, and at worst, women are regarded and treated as little more than sexual objects; foreign territory to be abused, conquered, and exploited. I don’t care if Donald Trump can do better. I do care if our society can do better, and for the sake of the future of our country, we must do better.
This is not the culture I want my son to accept or my daughter to grow up in, a society that accepts that one in six women will be raped or experience an attempted rape in their lifetime, a society where a different woman is sexually assaulted every two minutes, a society where 99% of women have experienced sexual harassment simply by walking down the street. We have to do better. And it doesn’t start by saying this type of “locker room” talk doesn’t happen. It starts by saying this type of “locker room talk” is inexcusable, unacceptable, and it needs to stop immediately. And maybe you are a decent guy who’s never talked about women this way, but for every Donald Trump making crude, disgusting comments, there is a Billy Bush standing by, chuckling, and egging him on. It’s time to introduce a different kind of man to the narrative. A kind of man that has the courage to say, “no.” A kind of man that looks at women as equal human beings created in the divine image of a God who is both beautiful and powerful,
In Acts 3:19, Peter echoes the word of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ when he says, “Change your hearts and lives! Turn back to God so that your sins may be wiped away,” (CEB). As a society, there is no doubt, we have sinned. As a society, there is no doubt, we are in need of repentance. My life changed years ago, when I realized God had a higher calling for my life. My life changed further still, when I met my wife, a woman who I respect more than any other person I have ever met, a person I would never disrespect, a person I regard as equal in our home and in our family, and while I am attracted to her beyond any description possible, she is so much more to me than the sexual trophy so many men are still seeking. And my life changed two years ago, when I held my baby girl in my arms for the first time, a girl who, at two years old, has more character and personality and strength and resilience than anyone I have ever met, a girl who I would defend with my dying breath, if anyone ever treated her the way Donald Trump described in his exposed conversation. But it shouldn’t take being married, or having a daughter, or even some idiotic millionaire celebrity bragging about his sexual intentions, for us to recognize and affirm the dignity and worth of every female in this world. So please, if you’re a man, don’t tell me, “you’ve never been in a locker room like that.” For the sake of my wife, for the sake of my daughter, for the sake of every woman you know, even every woman that breathes the same air as you and I, and for the sake of our society and our great nation, instead, please, walk straight into that locker room, and tell every single man saying those things to shut the hell up.