Let’s tell him about words
Courtney Phelan | 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.