The Time is Now

There is a language that men use with one another that women generally are not hip to. I know this because my childhood and teen years were filled with interactions and observations of my father, a football coach, and his players. He had two daughters and a wife which meant that he tried to speak our language when he was home. However, given his temperament, something was always lost in the translation.

In the weight room, on the field, and in the locker room he spoke the language of men. This was a dialect that involved copious shaming, easy banter, and masculine praise. As a young girl, I loved to watch and listen to this give and take. Over time, I realized that there was something that my father had with his players that he would never have with me, and that I could never have with him. I came to resent that. I felt ghettoed by my gender.

He would say such things as, “Hey baby you sure look good-you’re developing PopEye muscles,” when talking to one of his players; or, “Darlin’ you afraid of breakin’ a nail? You’re moving like a girl,”; or, “Hey baby you afraid your panties are showin’? Put some muscle behind the effort.” When talking to women he could be heard saying, “Honey, I could stack your rack,” or, “You’re one hard body.” My reaction to all these was to roll my eyes, occasionally laugh, and know that my father was crass.

So when the infamous tape of Donald Trump emerged in the fall of 2016, I had to revisit my perceptions of my father’s crassness and male language. I can honestly say, having spent plenty of time in locker rooms as a youth, that Trump’s talk was not typical locker room talk at anything above the high school level. Professional locker rooms are about men, not women; about their accomplishments and failures, their physical efforts, their strategies, the previous or up-coming game, etc. They are about things related to sport and physical prowess.

There is still a conversation to have about what is spoken about in locker rooms, spaces where women are typically excluded. If women are not included, these crass comments will not be corrected. There are many things that need to be changed about the way our society talks about women, especially in male dominated spaces. More people need to recognize this and not be afraid to turn the questionable moments into learning opportunities. Considering the issues regarding sexual harassment, in the context of a president that persists in making alarming comments, it is apparent that the time IS now to stop such behavior. This is why women march. THIS is why their voices, and the voices of women everywhere that face injustice, are important. The time is now.

 (Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)

(Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)