Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Discussions In Locker Rooms

Locker Room Of The Mind
This is going to get a little political, but it's more about sports than most of those things, so enjoy or don't. After the first few thousand posts, I don't lose a great deal of sleep on the likes and comments, or lack thereof.

Donald Trump's infamous tape the other day is the sociological litmus test of our time, with women seeming to react a lot more than men to the, well, awfulness of it all. But it's his explanation and minimization of the act as "locker room talk" that interests me.

You see, I've been in locker rooms. Lots of them. Different kinds, too, as both a journalist and an athlete. From sad little run-down rooms where never-was guys changed in quiet pain and privacy, to up and coming college places with money pouring in every vent and bravado thick enough to cut, to the pro places that have the aspect of upper-class office. As a golfer, I've been in all levels of those rooms, too. Literally dozens of different places.

Now, on to the kinds of conversations that you have there, assuming you aren't talking about things as a sports reporter.

Most of the time, they are cursory at best, because naked strangers are exceptionally awkward and most of the time, no one wants to tarry. But sometimes you get chatty people, especially older guys, who feel like they can just inflict an opinion or six on you. Most of the time, they are harmless, and so long as you don't feed them attention, it ends quickly. But public spaces are public spaces, and some people are just there to teach you patience. It passes.

No, what Trump is talking about here is a locker room that you and I don't get to go into. It's a place where access is restricted only to members, loyalists, subjects. Where you can say anything you want, because no one will stop you from saying it, or tell you that your sense of "humor" is inappropriate or hurtful or destructive, because they are all on the payroll. Or trying very desperately to stay in your orbit and enjoy a similar life without the risk, heritage, and so on.

Which is why I think the gender gap on this experience exists. In our dark little corners, men might imagine being like The Star, able to do whatever we want, whenever we want, without a moment of self-consciousness or consequence... and so long as everyone's making money and we're wonderful enough, it's all good, right?

Well, no, not ever, because life doesn't work like that, and you wind up learning that at some point in your transition from boy to man, and if you don't, well, life beats it into you. Unless you're wildly privileged, of course.

So Trump's locker room?

Goes everywhere he does.

And your locker room?

Does not.

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