Monday, October 10, 2016

Locker-Room Talk

            I have been working out regularly for some 30 years now, and I’m proud to say that even in my mid-40s I still get a good five or six workouts in each week. I say this not to brag about my fitness, but to bring up the point that in these three decades of working out, I’ve heard quite a bit of “locker-room talk.”
            Today, for instance, I popped into the gym for a morning swim before getting some work done on a school holiday. I heard a couple of men discussing which professions get Columbus Day off, as it was clear that there were more people in the gym today. I also heard two men talking about getting their flu shots, with one asking the other if he’d be getting a pneumonia shot as well.
            When I’m quickly changing or showering in the locker room, I typically overhear certain types of conversations. There are always the sports discussions – banter about the Yankees, Knicks, Giants, Jets, and pretty much every football team you could name. There are also the lifestyle talks – about food, vacations, movies or music. Occasionally, I also hear talk among friends about issues of the day – politics or income or race, sometimes in classic debate style, and always respectful. Sometimes there might even be some talk about marriage or dating. But that talk is often more about personality, interpersonal dynamics, and getting along with your partner – not so much about physical features.
The most common type of talk I overhear is the basic “Howya doin’?” banter. I hear men who’ve known each other for years catching up, and asking how things are going. As they get older, men are aware of time passing and like to check in on their friends’ health, especially if they haven’t seen each other in awhile.
So there are assorted types of conversations that go on in a gym. But in my 30 years of working out, there’s one thing I have never, ever heard in the locker room - even in four years playing high school baseball and four more years working out on a college campus. Never have I heard a man talking about how cool it is to walk up to a woman and grab her genitals. Never have I heard men talking about how much they want to just walk up to women and kiss them without consent. Never have I heard such disrespect for women.
I don’t know how we’ve arrived at a point where a man who does talk like this is (a) running for president and (b) dismissing it as “locker-room talk.” As a father of two girls, I don’t really even want to think about this issue much more. I just want to say that I go to locker rooms as part of my life routines, and I don’t hear people talk this way. So there must be a better label for the candidate’s words. To use his own vernacular, let’s start with “disaster.” And then let’s make sure he remains a troubling, loud-mouthed civilian on Nov. 8.

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