Learn more about who we are by following our blog, written by our pastor, preacher, and chief evangelist. Engage in the everyday sacred as Abby writes about the deep and ordinary all at once.
Yes, thank you. I mean it. Why? Because as my wise clergy friend pointed out: your “locker room talk”, Donald, has finally ignited a conversation that has needed to happen for sometime.
Imagine the scene. Yesterday, I was at a knitting circle in a church parlor. At forty, I brought down the group’s average age by 20 years. The women in the circle are long time New Englanders and progressive, but traditional, Christians. They are not bra-burning feminists. As a rule of thumb, they avoid conversations about sex, especially conversations about sexual harassment and violence. But not yesterday. They willingly discussed the locker room and Donald Trump.
I am positive some of these ladies have voted Republican in the past, but not one of them will be voting for Donald Trump this election cycle. They were horrified. They wondered together how often these sort of conversations truly happen among men in closed circles. Some of them acknowledged they “knew of” men who used “filthy, unspeakable words” in regards to women, but was this common? They were angry. Why was it okay, they asked, for men to talk about women that way? Why were their bodies open for discussion?
Imagine. I found myself openly discussing the vulgar words used for vagina with a group of 60-70+ year old women. Then I shared my story and they listened.
In high school I dated a boy on the football team. In the locker room some of his teammates starting harassing him about his relationship with me. Was he going to fuck me? Was he going to do it doggy style? We were both virgins. We had made a conscious choice that we weren’t ready at 15 and 16 to have sex. His teammates must have have guessed at our choice. My boyfriend was an easy target. And according to them I was a hot one who should be conquered. My boyfriend didn’t say anything. Nor did my brother who was also in the locker room. They didn’t know what to say.
My boyfriend confessed later to me what happened, ashamed that he didn’t know what to do. My brother also spoke to me, wanting to make sure I was careful around the boys who spoke about me as if I were a simple sexual conquest. My brother was also ashamed and befuddled. What was his role? I was furious with both my boyfriend and brother for not standing up to the locker room talk. When my mother found out she was enraged and my poor brother received a mouthful.
25 years later I am not angry at my high school boyfriend or brother. They didn’t know what to do. They knew it was vile and were ashamed. Yet in their defense, no one explicitly said to them, “You never speak about women (or men!) as sexual objects using vulgar words that you would never say in front of your grandmother.” They knew it was wrong because they were raised by good men and women, but they also knew women were spoken about as sexual objects openly in society. Vulgar words were just reserved for the locker room out of their grandmother’s ear shot.
Well, thank you Donald Trump. You have now made it clear to America that we need to have these conversations. We need to have them in knitting circles and in locker rooms. We need to have them in youth group and in boy/girl scout meetings. We need to have them at our dinner tables and in our mini vans. We need to tell everyone that we should never ever EVER talk about women or men with such sexually demoralizing terms.
Here are some tips for the conversation when your 12 year old asks for greater clarity:
Let’s end locker room talk here and now. #endlockerroomtalk
Rev. Abigail A Henrich (ehm!) is an ordained minister who earned her stripes at Princeton Theological Seminary and Colgate University. That said, Abby is really a mother-pastor-spouse who lives in a kinetic state of chaos as she moves from her many vocations: folding laundry, preaching, returning phone calls, sorting lunch boxes, answering e-mails, and occasionally thinking deep thoughts in the shower. Unabashedly she is a progressive Christian who believes some shaking up has got to happen in the church.