Who’s outside the locker room?

Selena McPherson / The News

The staff editorial is the majority opinion of The Murray State News editorial board.

Selena McPherson / The News

Selena McPherson / The News

Last week, a recording was released of Donald Trump making violently suggestive remarks about a failed sexual assault – one many have called “locker room” talk.

As expected, the video has gone viral, prompting some on-the-fence supporters to question their faith in the presidential candidate.

It’s no surprise the comments have gotten major internet traffic and spurred heated debates and condemnations – the comments were, without a doubt, a disgusting and hostile way of addressing women. But Trump’s misogynistic speech is no new phenomenon. Countless videos have highlighted lewd comments, past and present, he has said. So, why now? Why was this video the end-all be-all of targeted insults?

Trump has attacked plenty of groups before, but pretty, white women like Arianne Zucker are the first targets waiting outside the locker room door. If Trump is an athlete, white women are the cheerleaders with winning smiles that no one wants to see get injured. The Mexicans Trump dubbed “rapists” or the groups of presumably African-Americans Hillary Clinton called “superpredators” in 1996 can mill around the bleachers asking for apologies, but as we’ve seen, the crowd will yell loudest when the cheerleader falls off the pyramid.

From politicians’ defenses of their daughters and mothers to Clinton’s “I’m with Her” tagline, it’s easy to see Americans care deeply about keeping the concept of a safe woman in the foreground. While the intentions behind these defenses and taglines are good, they’re still problematic.

It’s far too easy to go to bat for a man’s daughter, mother, sister, girlfriend – his “Her” or “she” if that woman is an image the American people want to accept.

But would a woman who defends herself – one who isn’t claimed by a man as a sister, aunt, niece, etc. – be met with the same caring, angry, protective crowd? What about someone who isn’t a woman and isn’t white?

If Trump had described sexually attacking a woman of color who didn’t have the status and beauty a celebrity like Zucker does, would the crowd’s response mirror Clinton’s statement about the deaths in Benghazi, “What does it matter at this point anyway”?

This is not a condemnation of the uproar over Zucker – the recording is a glaring example of moral corruption. We should be upset about this and understand that the candidate’s comments were not simply a case of testosterone-fueled locker room talk, but disrespectful descriptions of sexual assault. Ideologies like his – that men should force themselves on a beautiful woman if they please because they’re unable to control themselves – create and encourage the kind of rape culture that allows people like Brock Turner to defend himself on the stand.

However, we cannot wait until the star cheerleader gets hurt to worry about the predatory men walking around the stadium and waiting for victims just outside their vile locker room. We shouldn’t be disgusted because Trump’s comments could be about our daughters and mothers – we should be disgusted that one man thinks he has the power and approval to force himself on someone else and create a culture that praises hostility and violence.

Get help for the cheerleader, but don’t ignore the other hundreds of victims sitting next to you on the bleachers.