Pro Athletes Slam Donald Trump's "Locker Room Talk" Excuse

October 10th 2016

Lucy Tiven

During Sunday night's town hall debate, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump continued to defend his 2005 comments about groping women using the phrase "locker room talk." And this "locker room talk" line isn't sitting well with professional athletes.


On Twitter, star athletes and coaches slammed Trump and claimed that none of the talk they've encountered in locker rooms has involved bragging about sexually assaulting women.

In a charged tweetstorm, Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Chris Conley laid into the candidate for using the phrase to normalize the casual use of violent, demeaning, rhetoric about women.

Conley insisted that Trump's crude, threatening words do not represent how men typically speak about women behind closed doors.

Pro athletes weren't the only ones to point out the larger problems with Trump's "locker room talk" excuse — used to assert and condone the notion that all men speak about women in demeaning terms when they aren't around.

TV Critic Nathan Rabin made this point in a satirical Medium post published Saturday and a Monday tweet.

Rabin Medium

The larger problem with Trump's excuse is that it tells men — and young boys — that joking or bragging about violating women's bodies is normal male behavior.

On Medium, high school athletics coach Steve Reich criticized Trump for portraying "locker rooms" as a safe space for casual misogyny and asserted that he hoped to teach students the opposite.

From Medium:

"The locker-room line shows that Donald Trump clearly doesn’t get what a good physical education teacher or coach does. We don’t show up just to run sports teams, count pushups or clock sprint times and then clock out, as if that’s all our students need. Our biggest job is to help kids become good, decent human beings. We’re trying to help students grow into men and women whose lives are guided by courage, by respect for others, by fortitude and perseverance, by all the building blocks of good character.

Trump's comments also spurred the use of the #notallmen hashtag — which brings up an important point. While we shouldn't normalize Trump's words or the acts they reference — sexual assault and harassment — they aren't uncommon for women to experience.

One out of every six women is a victim of rape or attempted rape, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. And women face verbal and physical sexual harassment at work, on public transportation, on city streets, and in virtually every other sphere of daily life.

While it's heartening for men to refute the normalization of sexual violence, it's also important to remember that some men do behave the way Trump described in the video clip. And you'd be hard pressed to find a woman who hasn't crossed paths with one.