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Let’s tell him about words

| Wednesday, October 12, 2016

In a tape released by the Washington Post earlier this week, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and TV host Billy Bush had a conversation about women. The tape’s release has caused significant backlash in the media and on social media, as well as in the Republican party. Prominent Republicans John McCain, John Kasich and Paul Ryan have officially stated that they will not be voting for Donald in the general election.

Donald (I’m calling him “Donald,” not “Trump,” because everyone keeps referring to Hillary Clinton by her first name in this campaign) has apologized in a video statement and in a response during the recent debate. When the moderators asked him about the tape, Donald responded, “It was locker room talk,” and “ … don’t tell me about words.”

Sorry, Donald. I’ll be taking a page out of your book and doing something you didn’t ask for: I’m going to tell you about words.

The tape (which, is just over three minutes long and easily available) contains words many considered vulgar, words I’m not allowed to write here. Many people in Trump’s camp have tried to defend these lewd words by saying that they are only “locker room talk.” I’ve heard several assertions that all men talk like this behind closed doors.

I decided to ask a few of my close male friends if they and their friends have “locker room talk,” like the talk in the tape.

Each one of my friends replied they absolutely did not.

They gave differing commentaries along with their negative responses. One friend said that he’d been “in social situations where that kind of talk was on display in a banter-sort-of way,” but asserted that the vulgar words and boasting weren’t the big issue with the tape. Another friend said that he talked that way in high school, but tried to avoid conversations like that as he’s grown up. Another friend said no, and that “using the term ‘locker room talk’ to defend [Donald’s] comments completely objectifies women and promotes rape culture.”

Of course, these are anecdotal, and I can personally vouch that the people I choose to surround myself with are of atypically sterling moral fiber. But it’s clear to me from those commentaries that the type of vulgar language used in the tape is considered highly immature, even amongst young men. Donald was 59 years old when he made those comments, and yet male college students and recent entrants to the professional world hold themselves to higher standards. This sentiment, that language like that is immature and disgusting, was shared by the Republican leaders who’ve been denouncing Donald.

But the vulgar words aren’t really the issue here. Yes, they’re immature and gross, and the leader of the free world should be better than that, but there’s no law against being immature and gross. People do use language like that. People do talk about sex and body parts and such. Men talk like that, women talk like that. It’s not how I choose to conduct my private life, but hey, to each his own. You can say vulgar words to talk about sex. You can say whatever you want.

What you can’t say is that you approach women and grope their genitals.

What you can’t say is that you don’t even wait to kiss women.

What you can’t say is that when you’re a star, you can do anything.

And what you can’t do, Donald, is brag about committing sexual assault without consequences.

Because that’s what Donald described. In the second presidential debate, the moderators told Donald about the words that define sexual assault, and he evaded the question. Perhaps he thought the words Martha Raddatz and Anderson Cooper were telling him about were incorrect, or faked or a liberal conspiracy and thus, that their assertions of Donald committing sexual assault were unfounded.

Well, they’re not. In case Donald, or anyone in his camp, cares to read them, here are the words that define sexual assault from the U.S. Department of Justice (you know, one of those pesky parts of the executive branch, which is the part of the government Donald is campaigning to run):

“Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling and attempted rape.”

For anyone wondering, the technical word for “grab her right in the p—-” is fondling. Someone really ought to tell him about that.

This column is not a commentary on the rest of Donald’s campaign, or an endorsement of another candidate. I’m simply analyzing what exactly is wrong with that tape. It’s not the vulgar words he says; it’s the illegal and immoral actions those words described.

And that’s the final word.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Courtney Phelan

Courtney Phelan is a junior English major living in Le Mans Hall. She can be contacted at cphela01@saintmarys.edu

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  • warmupthediesel

    Agreed. Donald’s tapes are disgusting and he’s a complete pig.

    Now how about an article about a woman who was complicit in her husband’s assaults/rapes/escapades, shamed/verbally attacked his victims, joked about getting a child-rapist off with a lighter sentence….need I go on? Donald’s words are heinous and reproachable. The Clintons are guilty and have shown how little they value women through their criminal/immoral actions.

  • Punta Venyage

    What you can’t say is that you approach women and grope their genitals.

    What you can’t say is that you don’t even wait to kiss women.
    What you can’t say is that when you’re a star, you can do anything.

    “You can’t SAY…”

    Really? And why not? Someone in private can’t make jokes? None of this was a public statement (it wasn’t even directed towards a woman!). I don’t think many people like the idea of having someone else tell them what they are allowed to say, unless they are a fan of communism.

    Your hysteria about these tape comments is equivalent to what it would be if he was actually walking around forcibly kissing women and “grabbing them by the p___” (hint: this actually describes Bill Clinton’s behavior)

    It boggles me how you don’t even question the moderators and the fact that the beginning of the debate was a clear setup in steering the conversation away from issues and to character assassinate Trump (but notice how the topic immediately changed once Trump brought up the Clinton coverups, no questions to Hillary about what she thought about Bill’s rape victims or the woman whose rapist she laughed about…)

    How have we come to a point where people are so easily brainwashed into what they should feel is important? Wikileaks keep coming out with serious revelations yet people are clueless because they think the media is going to talk about these things, and they are so distracted with things that have nothing to do with the future of American security and prosperity.

    Who cares that Russia is conducting nuclear war exercises or we have welfare and middleast warmongering ruining the economy when someone said the “p” word in a private conversation 11 years ago. SMH

    Keep getting distracted by middle school-level gossip while our country’s wealth is being stolen, I guess it’s what we deserve.

    And btw, why do you assume that women who follow Trump and are attracted to his power would hate it if he actually made advances? I understand that YOU might be repulsed, but your personal feeling does not represent all women, and it certainly doesn’t represent the types of women he is referring to.

    And finally, this Victorian self-righteousness is a joke. Everyone of your friends, and I’ll bet this applies to you too, have said something to someone in private which they would be incredibly embarrassed about if it was secretly being recorded and released out to the public.