The term, “locker room talk” doesn’t excuse anything. What many don’t get is locker room talk is another expression of rape culture. What many more don’t get is rape culture arises from capitalism.
Rape culture is so deeply embedded in patriarchal society many people aren’t even conscious and aware of its existence. Even some women dismiss locker room talk with shrugs as, “just what guys do, right?” Locker room talk is verbal violence, and verbal violence, for those still waking up to our cultural mess, is violence committed with spoken language. It’s often amplified with body language and facial expressions. Verbal violence spills over into written language where direct use of such insults may be criminalized as deadly threats, slander, and libel. When such violence is sexual, however, it’s often dismissed with eye rolls and shrugs or ignored. People who do use locker rooms are also fed up as what Trump calls “locker room talk” isn’t the norm in their locker rooms.
Donald Trump brushed off recently leaked recordings of his sexist, disgusting, and abusive comments towards women and girls as “just locker room talk.” He was called on it during the second presidential debate of this nightmarish campaign by debate co-moderator Anderson Cooper of CNN. Trump’s words were deeply disrespectful, so deeply disrespectful as to be unconscious of morals and ethics. His language described how he exploited his wealth and fame to force women to kiss and hug him. The billionaire in a fit of excited infantilism called for men to “grab” women by their genitals. Trump’s language was violent enough for others to characterize his speech as the verbal equivalent of “sexual assault.” His words are indeed violent. Trump’s talk is rape talk.
Large numbers of women rose up in outrage as they publicly shared stories of being raped and molested. Large numbers of men, all sons of mothers and many of them married to women as well as fathers of daughters revolted in revulsion. Growing numbers of Republican leaders abandoned their presidential candidate. Others chided these Republicans for their cowardice and asked what took them so long to recognize what a sexist, chauvinist, racist, homophobic, classist, xenophobic man he clearly demonstrates himself to be. Trump spewed crude, slanderous language to demean and demonize Mexicans, Muslims, women, American prisoners of war, Blacks, protesters, Chinese, the disabled, and many other human beings from the United States and elsewhere. Trump did so from the beginning of his campaign. What’s taking so many people so long to get a clue? Athletes, coaches, and others who work in locker rooms are pushing back, too. Trump’s lecherous, deranged, and sociopathic comments are not what they talk about in their locker rooms.
As a boy and then a man, I’ve certainly been inside plenty of locker rooms. In middle and high school. In college. Even today in the gym. I certainly remember overhearing a few guys laughing as they bragged about various escapades with girl friends. None of what I heard, however, bordered on anything close to the rape talk of Donald Trump. Of course, I am also hard-of-hearing and removed my hearing aids for sporting events to protect them from being damaged.
Still, while I heard sexual vulgarities I didn’t encounter incitement to sexual violence or bragging about such. At worse I overheard the juvenile glorification of a twisted, immature machismo more stupid and ignorant than anything violent. Violence, however, is already too easy a way out of our predicaments. This juvenile glorification of a twisted, immature machismo is itself a direct consequence of unconscious sexism rooted in abusive patriarchy. These attitudes feeds into the divide and conquer strategies of class war waged by the elite classes to divide people by race, sex, gender, religion, ethnicity, language, levels of education, and types of jobs.
If we are going to attack Trump for his locker room talk, we must address rape culture. As we do so, we must address the underlying socio-political and economic-financial systems that gave rise to rape culture and the objectification and commodification of girls and women. If we are to do so we must also include the commodification of boys and men and the rise of slavery including the increase in the use and trafficking of sex slaves. If we are to challenge Trumputian locker room talk, we must address the assaults on LGBTQI people who dare to assert themselves at great cost by simply trying to live free from harassment, ridicule, and murder. If we are to truly examine the mass unconscious cultural conditioning and economic systems allowing for sexual violence to arise and flourish, then we must address the so-called elephant in the room, the elephant whenever is pointed out is automatically defended and exalted by suddenly triggered and outraged people.
This elephant in the room is CAPITALISM. Yes, capitalism. Rape culture, slavery, financial profit at human costs, and thus Donald Trump’s mindset and those of his rabidly racist followers stem directly from the exacting profit-or-perish system of capitalism. Indeed, Adam Smith’s capitalist tome, The Wealth of Nations, was published in 1776 in Scotland during the high tide of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the early part of the bourgeois-driven American Revolution. Slavery and trafficking in conquered and kidnapped human beings fueled the rise of wealth in the Americas as well as in Imperial Europa. Slavery and trafficking fueled the rapacious engines of capitalism. The hidden hand magical thinking of capitalism was really the inability to acknowledge the wealth generated by slavery for the aggregation and investment of capital profits. These returns on investments continued long after slavery was nominally abolished.
We must respond by expanding democracy into the realms of business and work as well as reclaiming it in politics and government. We must learn to integrate individual liberties with social responsibilities. This transformation of mind and matter demands democratic socialism, a peaceful revolutionary system of the future we needed yesterday, a cooperative system that hasn’t ever been allowed to survive long enough to thrive before being squashed by the capitalist class. Yes, democratic socialism! Or else banning, blaming, and shaming locker room rape talk will only be a clot of bandages over the spreading sores of a degrading and degenerative capitalism.
Rape culture will continue to flourish along with slavery, perpetual warfare, and institutionalized racism until we recognize capitalism for how destructive it truly is. We must learn to cooperate in spite of our differences as we have so much more in common as human beings. We can help lift each other up to build a democratic and socialist world for all. We have choices here. Choose.
William Dudley Bass
Tuesday 11 October 2016
Note about the Foto image up top: This foto is a cropped alteration of a found image on the web of Donald Trump. The original foto was taken by fotografer Chris Pizzello of Invision/AP in Pasadena, CA, on Friday 16 January 2015. I altered the foto on Tuesday 11 October 2016.
Note: Also see, “American Mussolini: Trump arises from American Exceptionalism,” here at: http://williamdudleybass.com/american-mussolini.
Copyright © 2016 by William Dudley Bass except for the image altered up top from a foto shot by Chris Pizzello. All Rights Otherwise Reserved until we Humans establish Wise Stewardship of and for our Earth and Solarian Commons. Thank you.