Updated: Jul 21, 2020
What is it?
Any manner of conversation that “polite” society dictates be held privately - with small groups of like-minded, similarly gendered peers - due to its sexually charged language, situations, or innuendos. Broadly, it refers to objectification and crude conversations under the pretense of ‘casual-talk’ that peers of similar gender (more likely, men) have behind closed doors. This phrase became controversial when Donald Trump was recorded talking about forcibly kissing and groping women. After an uproar, he justified by attributing it mere ‘locker room talk’.
Why is it precarious?
The culture of locker-room talk reflects the deep-rooted sexism and rape culture present in our society. There is a lack of accountability as such conversations are generally protected and dismissed by claiming that these are just “jokes” or “casual comments” which don’t deliberately hurt women. Often these conversations are just brushed off with the “men will be men” excuse.
This leads to the normalization of rape culture and toxic masculinity. These talks often encourage men/boys to think of women as objects they can own and exercise their control on. It also reflects the internalized misogyny and prejudice regarding other genders. Moreover engaging in such conversations subconsciously leads men to believe that women deserve lesser respect. Talking about groping, teasing, or even raping women is considered harmless due to no potential actions following it. But these conversations encourage men to threaten and coerce women with rape and the seriousness of these threats lose their gravity due to its relation with these conversations behind closed doors. The normalization of rape threats only happens when these actions are not condoned.
Increased exposure to social media evils is one of the biggest reasons for teenage boys to engage in such activities. The recent introduction of cyber safety handbook by C.B.S.E for class 9 to 12 students is the first step towards creating awareness amongst teenagers against this culture. Calling out locker-room talk is not an easy task but it starts with individual accountability.