If Donald Trump’s recent comments about his sexual harassment of women have angered you, think about how pervasive “locker room banter” is in popular culture. While it's easy to point the finger at Trump (and so you should) for his vile “grabbing p*ssy” comments, it’s also important to inspect the culture that encourages and excuses men for these kinds of actions and conversations (not that we’re encouraging or excusing Trump—he’s entirely responsible for his own behavior).
This doesn’t mean that all men are exposed to this culture and immediately feel the impulse to go out and rape and objectify. It also doesn’t mean that movies are responsible for the systemic sexism that exists across all our institutions. It just means that perhaps that sexism is so insipid, you never noticed it permeating some of your favorite corners of pop culture, which is a petri dish of misogyny grows.
Think about some of your favorite movies. Think about the characters, the way sex, sexuality and gender are portrayed, and then maybe you’ll start to see some galling displays of sexism where men and women are concerned. You might even hear some of the exact same things that disgusted you when Trump said them—a testament to how misogyny and sexism is ingrained within entertainment, politics and society in general.
This feeds into a telling disparity within the movie industry: 51% of moviegoers are female, but women only comprise 22% of protagonists. Not only are women’s voices left out of pop culture, women are also often depicted as sex objects, and the way men are allowed to objectify—and even perform non-consensual sex acts on women—is often made into a charming punchline.
1. "Check out the bobos on superfreak" — She’s All That (1999)
Talking about women as flesh and parts is the oldest form of locker room talk, and it’s reached a point where this kind of objectification is just accepted. It's excused with a “boys will be boys” mentality, and the problem is not only the objectification of women, but the portrayal of men in this way—as though it’s simply expected that men will talk about women as sex objects. It does both sexes a great disservice.
2. "That's what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older, they stay the same age" - Dazed & Confused (1993)
As in, they stay below the age of consent, while the man grows older. We have another term for that: statutory rape. Glorifying non-consensual sex with quotes that have endeared themselves to the collective pop culture psyche isn’t cute, it’s damaging. And it’s one of the reasons we victim blame and excuse this kind of behavior in reality.
3. "Will you listen to me? Bitches are all just panty droppers. You understand? That's it... You give 'em a Percocet, two Vicodin and a couple of beers, and the panties drop. It's very nice." - Varsity Blues (1999)
Campus rape is a very real epidemic. And as above, it’s something that pop culture makes light of with “innocent” locker room talk. Coercing a woman into sex by forcing her to become intoxicated negates consent, and yet again, pop culture finds itself celebrating rape, much the same way Trump celebrates himself for forcing himself on unwilling women.
4. “She wants to fuck me, she wants my dick in or around her mouth!” - Jonah Hill in Superbad (2007)
In case you were thinking “But the above films are all from the ‘90s!”, never fear, the culture of female objectification and locker room talk are still very much alive and well in popular culture. Just look at any Seth Rogen film from the past decade. It’s all fun and games, because really, all women are good for is sex.
5. “What is it with this chick? She have beer-flavored nipples?” - 10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
Because obviously no man could ever like a woman for something like her “personality”. No, no, it’s the boobs.