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Locker room talk isn’t just harmful to women — it insults men too

Unless seven women with eerily similar stories are lying, what Donald Trump labeled as simply locker room talk at the second presidential debate was actually him bragging about things he has, in fact, done to women in real life.

In a now infamous leaked audio recording, he is heard saying that he grabs women by their genitalia and that he kisses them without their consent. And two separate women are alleging he did exactly that to them in the past, as reported by the New York Times. In total, seven accusers have come forward with stories of assault that show a clear pattern, down to the Tic Tacs Donald Trump put in his mouth beforehand.

Grabbing the genitals of another human without his or her consent isn’t just unacceptable — it’s straight up illegal. What Donald Trump calls locker room talk is what others — like, I don’t know, the Justice Department — would call sexual assault.

But by labeling actions like grabbing women’s body parts as locker room banter, Trump is asserting he either frequents locker rooms where men just confess straight-up crimes to each other with zero repercussions, or most likely, that he doesn’t understand the definition of sexual assault. That should shock us. If he thinks, as he said in the leaked tape, that when you're a star you can do anything," what does he think he can get away with doing to women when he’s leader of the free world? That is a frightening — and not so hypothetical, given most recent polls — visual for the women who would be living in Trump’s America.

As Michelle Obama noted when she took the stage at a rally for Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire on Thursday, "This wasn't locker room banter.” She then broke down how that label minimizes the harm done to women and men, too. “To dismiss [Trump's comments] as locker room talk is an insult to decent men everywhere,” she told the crowd. "The men in my life do not talk about women like this.”