SEXUALLY CHARGED WORDS DO MATTER

I have been working to bring awareness of abuses against women and girls to the forefront of discussion and action through my project Our Sister’s Keeper.  I was shocked to see a video tape of a current presidential candidate so blatantly verbally abusing women through the most sexist remarks.

I asked a friend, Camille Kim, a student of Social Justice at George Washington University, to write about how “locker room” talk is an abuse of women.  Here is what she wrote.

Locker Room Talk

What exactly is locker room talk? And what message does locker room talk send?

These questions have been brought into the spotlight following Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump dismissing audio recording of him describing assault as simply, “locker room talk”. Defenders of Mr. Trump’s actions do not see a correlation between sexual violence and sexually violent rhetoric.

Locker room talk has been used as a justification for saying whatever comes to mind, without consequence. But there is consequence. Survivors across the country heard Trump’s statements and were forced to relive their worst memories in their head. I work at the Rape Abuse Incest National Network, and following the release of the audio, our hotline exploded with survivors needing help. His words had not only an immediate but lasting effect.

In America today, one out of every six women has been assaulted. And of that percentage only a fraction reports the assault. The most common reason for not reporting is that they don’t think they will be believed. A direct cause of these thoughts are situations when powerful men get to say whatever they want about harming a women’s body, without repercussion.

What does that tell the survivor? It tells the survivor that if they will let the presidential candidate get away with it, then it must be okay. Well, it is not okay. Sexually violent language is never okay. There is no such thing as “boys will be boys”. There is no justification for assault. There is no such thing as locker room talk. There is however, such thing as human decency. A characteristic that this presidential candidate and his supporters do not seem to think involves respecting women.

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