Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Trumped-Up Excuse

In the 1977 movie “Slap Shot,” Paul Newman stared as an aging hockey player trying to save his minor league team from going belly up.

It was a film full of fascinating characters, so well-acted it made Canadians seem almost interesting.

But one stood out. Brad Sullivan played the part of Morris “Mo” Wanchuk, a man so sexually obsessed that he could talk about nothing else.

Crude and creepy, he was largely ignored by his fellow teammates who, although not exactly choirboys themselves, found his act disgusting.

This past week, we heard Donald Trump do a pretty good imitation of Mo Wanchuk.

In a recorded conversation, Trump bragged in vulgar terms about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women during a 2005 conversation saying that “when you’re a star, they let you do it,” according to a video obtained by The Washington Post.

“You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”

“And when you’re a star, they let you do it,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”

“Whatever you want,” says another voice….

“Grab them by the p---y,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”

He then talked about his attempt to seduce a married woman.

“I moved on her, actually. You know, she was down on Palm Beach. I moved on her, and I failed. I’ll admit it.

“I did try and f---k her. She was married.”

Trump later apologized, saying, “This was locker-room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course — not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended.”

Lots of people were. And the impact on his campaign has been catastrophic if not fatal.

But what about this “locker room banter’?  Are men’s locker rooms incubators for misogyny? Do men really speak openly about forcing themselves on women and joke about sexual assault? Do they amuse themselves by recounting their predatory attempts to bed married women?

I’ve found myself in the company of men many times, in countless locker rooms, in Army barracks, in corporate board rooms, on playing fields and taverns.

And I can say without hesitation I have never heard a conversation such as the one Trump engaged in.

Men talk about sports, their stock portfolios, their golf swing, their jobs, the weather, movies, music, those sort of things.

But if some guy starts braying about his real or imagined sexual conquests, he won’t find much of an audience.  Or much of a following.

 Don’t take my word for it.  Clippers coach Doc Rivers said such talk is not typical of any locker room he has been a part of.

"They're bad comments. They're demeaning to women," Rivers told ESPN.  "You know, I think when people throw out that word, 'locker room talk,' there's nobody talking like that in the locker room. Is there swearing in the locker room? Yeah. Every other word. But there's nobody demeaning -- there's players in our locker room with sisters, wives and daughters. There's not that type of talk in anyone's locker room."

Said Ole Miss football coach Hugh Freeze: "We're working hard on our young men understanding that women are priceless and should be treated as such."

Detroit Lions wide receiver Golden Tate put it this way: "I've heard some distasteful things over the years, but I've also heard some incredible things and some incredible outputs on life and character and religion and faith.”

And Baltimore Ravens tight end Ben Watson, a published conservative Christian author, had this to say about Trump on a Facebook blog: “One’s character is one’s character,” he wrote. “It does not and should not change in the locker room, on private emails, or on a bus. This is the challenge for all of us.”

I don’t want to soft pedal this: there is locker room talk, some of it distasteful, about women, especially their physical attributes. But it is rare and getting rarer.

And I don’t mean to suggest that because women are not a favorite locker room topic, that the struggle for equal employment and equal pay has captured the hearts and minds of all men.

But what we should take away from all this is that Donald Trump does not represent the 21st century American male. He is an ethical and moral Neanderthal, and like them, will soon be extinct.

Robert Rector is a veteran of 50 years in print journalism. He has worked at the San Francisco Examiner, Los Angeles Herald Examiner, Valley News, Los Angeles Times and Pasadena Star-News. His columns can be found at Robert-Rector@Blogspot.Com.

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