Sunday, November 6, 2016

Donald Trump's "locker room talk": a pro athlete's perspective

by Beau Treyz

Donald Trump is not one of us. We are athletes, not pigs. Men and women talk about each other, and make judgments on each other’s looks, let’s not pretend it doesn’t happen. But Trump’s “locker room talk” happens in bars, locker rooms, offices, schools and households across the world. That doesn’t make it right, that makes us lazy. It’s easy to talk about people we want to have sex with as objects; it happens all the time on the radio and TV, but again that doesn’t make it right. Trump cannot blame his repulsiveness on being an athlete, because not all athletes are like him. The phrase “locker room talk” needs to be gone; just as society has tried to say “gay” and “retarded” less, now people are opting to use more descriptive language that doesn’t offend or diminish another group of people. It’s about not being lazy.

In today’s culture people make snap judgments and assumptions because it’s easier than actually thinking about certain problems. As a 24-year-old white American male, I’m just now realizing that I am more prejudiced than I thought. Over the last year I’ve traveled to 10 different countries from Egypt to Ecuador playing professional tennis. When I got to South Africa I remember thinking, “These white people don’t look like me” and, “These black people don’t look like the black people in the United States.” And swathed in both of those ideas were judgments and assumptions I had obviously subconsciously been making my entire life. I was shocked, but also a bit ashamed of myself for even having those thoughts.

My next experience like this came when my plane landed in Tunisia and I didn’t speak the language, have wi-fi, or anyone else with me. I vividly remember wanting to buy a ticket back to the States as quickly as I could. I was scared of the men in Jebbas and women in Safsaris; I’d only been exposed to those clothes while associating it with terrorists on TV. I didn’t even know what the clothes stood for, but I had been trained to fear them. Being in that airport, and distrusting the guards with AK-47’s, really wondering about my own safety, was the most terrified I’ve ever felt. I probably only got in a cab and continued to the tournament because I was arrogant enough to think nothing would happen to me. I made it to the tournament, and the cab driver couldn’t have been nicer; I again felt ashamed that I had given in to believing a stereotype.

Traveling and learning to trust cab drivers, airport workers and hotel clerks of different skin colors than me has been a challenge. I would never say I’m racist in the United States, but when I started traveling it became clear to me that I am at least prejudiced. I didn’t realize that as I scroll through Instagram, consume the different TV shows, and listen to songs on the radio and online, I am allowing myself to be told how to think about different types of people. This mass consumption is not just a trait of the American millennials though; it’s worldwide and covers all age groups. It’s not just kids that are obsessed with Instagram, but adults too. How many annoying moms and uncles are there on Instagram and Facebook? We are all seeing, reading and hearing the same information. It’s easy to give in to stereotypes.

“Muslims are terrorists.” “Mexicans are illegal aliens.” We’ve heard these hateful, wrong stereotypes before, but one may soon be hurled at us: “Americans are Trump.” We will all be stereotyped as a group of people who agree with everything Trump says and does. People will be afraid of me, and have underlying ideas about me just as I had of them. I cannot imagine having to fight the Trump stereotype every time I meet someone. They say there’s a bit of truth in all stereotypes. We may be wary of people we don’t know, and we may be prejudiced, but do we want to be ruled by fear, insecurity and hatred? Is that the part of ourselves we want to represent us in the world? Trump is the worst part of all of us. Trump is not “unique and authentic,” he’s basic. He fears groups of people he doesn’t know. He treats women as sexual objects waiting to be conquered. If Trump were just a guy at a bar he’d get punched in the face every time he opened his mouth.

He doesn’t speak any truth. He’s not new to politics. His campaign hinges on whether or not we still want to be liked by the high school bully. He preys upon those of us that are too timid to stand up to someone we disagree with. He hopes we all choose to be Billy Bush and take part in his hateful, entitled, disgraceful way of life. By saying his comments were, “locker room talk”, he imagines himself as Lebron James or Tom Brady; he thinks they’re cool and imagines that that’s how they act. Professional sports are a business, and the most successful athletes are smart, strong, and tactful in their field of competition, just as is someone in any other profession; how they act on the field reveals nothing of who they are off it. Although he imagines himself as Derek Jeter, Donald Trump is really just Regina George from Mean Girls. He is more like a bitchy high school ringleader than Lebron James.

Athletes, like all citizens, are supposed to be leaders in their communities, not just blind followers, so we cannot allow Trump to hide in what he imagines our locker rooms to be like. He should have to answer for his own moral character just as the rest of us do. There are no policy disagreements in this piece because people that believe in stereotypes don’t care about the substance of the people they’re judging. They care about what is said the loudest, the information that is most in their face, regardless of fact or truth; what Trump says loudest about Americans is that we’re all racist, arrogant assholes that should be punched in the face at the first opportunity.

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