I spent eleven years in a male-dominated industry where crude and sexist comments were common, women were devalued and discriminated against and men openly and routinely cheated on their wives and girlfriends.
In more recent years, I have written about sports, which has led to a great deal of interaction with some fairly obnoxious and sexist Internet trolls, and I have spent at least some time in actual locker rooms. At the same time, because I am a clean-cut, white family guy who lives in a conservative suburb, people assume that I am comfortable with all manner of racist, sexist and homophobic sentiments and thus they often feel quite free to share them with me in the belief that I will not judge them.
As a result of all of this, I have heard a lot of vile things from a lot of vile men over the years. Men who would make your skin crawl and whose comments would make you question your faith in humanity.
Never, however, have I heard any of these men say, matter-of-factly or even in jest, that it’s cool to kiss or grope a woman in the way Donald Trump described. Never have their comments, however crude or sexist, suggested that they believe sexual assault was just a tool in their romantic toolbox.
There are men who do believe such things, of course, and nearly every woman you know could share a story about being groped or assaulted at some point in their lives. But the suggestion from Donald Trump – that this was just “locker room banter” or “boys being boys” – is a lie. Moreover, the characterization of these comments by the news media as “lewd” or “provocative” is both understated and misleading.
Locker room banter, at its worst, involves idiots saying what they’d do to a woman if given the chance. Trump, in contrast, believes being given the chance is irrelevant and that he can just take what he wants regardless of a woman’s feelings or consent because he’s famous or because, dammit, he just wants to.
Donald Trump did not make “lewd comments.” Donald Trump did not engage in “locker room banter.” He gave a full-throated endorsement of sexual assault, the sort of which even the worst men I have known have never done and never would do. To brush this off as mere crude discourse or immaturity is wrong. What Trump described doing is sick, assaultive, violent and illegal, full stop.