How To Stop The “Locker Room Talk”

It’s been four days since footage was released of presidential nominee Donald Trump making lewd sexual comments towards women. The backlash has been widespread, from Republicans no longer endorsing the nominee, women sharing sexual assault/harassment stories to athletes saying those types of conversations do not happen in locker rooms.

One local nonprofit says that while the statements were terrible, the focus should be on something different.

“Sometimes, unfortunately, it takes a really traumatic, drastic thing to happen for the conversation to start and for people to realize, ‘Woah, we have a problem here.'”

That problem, Ashley Statema, one of The New Colossus’s co-founders says, isn’t who said the words, reflecting back to the latest debates and during the campaign, “Obviously Trump is not giving us a very good example of that… I don’t think that Hillary is giving a really good example of that either, just their responses to each other.”

Instead… Statema and her co-founder Polly Dean says it is what was said and the reason behind it.

“I feel like that’s the piece that we want to hone in on so we don’t get clouded by,” Statema explained, “not just the words. Obviously those were terrible, but why are these things being said and what are we going to do to change it?”

The New Colossus aims to educate people about sex related crimes, like human sex trafficking, sexual assault and sexual harassment and how to end them. The organtizations other co-founder, Polly Dean, says the change can begin with students as early as middle school.

“If we give them that platform to really express themselves and take ownership of the conversation from here on out from their perspective,” Dean explained, “they jump on it, they love it.” Dean went on to further say how at their latest presentation at Whittier Middle School, the students were very receptive when it came to making a poster campaign even wanting to direct their own PSA.

Which is why Polly Dean, along with her co-founder Ashley Statema, agree that the younger generation knows what they’re hearing, whether it was on the campaign trail or during the debates, is wrong.  And that leaders, or potential leaders, need to meet them halfway when tackling this large issue.

“He [Trump] says it’s normal “locker room talk”, maybe he needs to start that conversation with men he’s with and really change that conversation from the top down,” Polly Dean explained. “How we talk about women, how we talk about men…”

Polly Dean as well as Ashley Statema say that they’re presentations aren’t just for students, but that any organization can have them come in. They say that they try to talk to both men and women, victims and perpetrators about what lead them to either say or do an action and how they can begin to change. 

If you’d like to begin changing the conversation with the help of The New Colossus, you can find out more information here.