BY BRONTE BRECHT '19
Senior David Lander of the Amherst College men’s soccer team made waves across the internet recently with a Huffington Post article that garnered over 39,000 shares on social media. The topic in question was “locker room talk,” a phrase presidential candidate Donald Trump used to dismiss his boasts about touching women without their consent in the 2005 videotape released by the Washington Post.
“...When you’re a star, they let you do it.” Trump had said on the tape. “You can do anything — grab them by the pussy.”
Lander denounced Trump’s characterization of “locker room talk” on behalf of the men’s soccer team. He wrote: “We cannot imagine one of our 30 guys ever making or condoning, in our private locker room, comments similar to Donald Trump’s disgusting statements about sexually assaulting women.”
Lander went on to discuss the various ways in which his team’s locker room differs from Trump’s — for one, they are right down the hall from the women’s locker room and practice on the same field.
“I think that the locker room is kind of an impenetrable place,” said junior Sarah Frohman, a captain of the Amherst College women’s soccer team, in response to the opinion piece. “Every team has their own ‘locker room’ with their own perspective and culture within. It’s reassuring to know that right down the hallway, while we are having our own conversations and being respectful, they are doing that too.”
While most of the responses to Lander’s article have been positive, some female students found the article disingenuous in light of Amherst’s past attitudes towards sexual violence. In 2012, several accounts of Amherst College mishandling sexual assault cases were published in their student newspaper. Amherst College was also featured heavily in Oscar-nominated campus sexual assault-centered documentary “The Hunting Ground.” In 2013 two former students filed federal lawsuits against Amherst, “alleging that administrators trivialized their sexual assault reports and worked to isolate them both, even urging them to take a year off from school to recover from the trauma,” according to the Boston Globe.
Noël Grisanti, a senior at Amherst and one of the two co-chairs of the Peer Advocates of Sexual Respect, commented that Lander’s article is part of the positive change taking shape at Amherst.
“Coming in [to Amherst] my freshman year, even the phrase ‘rape culture’ was not something that people were familiar with or comfortable with,” Grisanti said. “Just over the last four years I’ve been here, I’ve seen people start to acknowledge that it exists.”
Grisanti also believes that this article is more of a discussion-starter than a final conclusion on the issue of rape culture at Amherst.
“This is the beginning of a good conversation,” she said. “One of our mottos that we use a lot is ‘Let’s start talking’...it’s really relevant here. I think it’s great that a demographic that is typically taken as being unconcerned with sexual assault — privileged men — is speaking up and saying ‘this is not something that we con-done.’ We as the Peer Advocates want to bring more people into the conversation and expand it beyond the locker room.”