Plenty has been made over the last two weeks about locker talk, those-boys-will be-boys (wink, wink) comments that sound so lame and creepy later. What struck me about the latest hubbub, however, is that this is old-guy locker talk.
Not that disgusting discussions ever go out of style, but the conversation is changing.
Or, as one college athlete I spoke with put it: “We say some strange things (in the locker room). But if anyone said that, we’d be like, ‘Oh my God! What is wrong with you?’ ”
A lot has changed in the half-century gap between that candidate and this athlete. Sophomoric TV sidekick aside, there is reason to hope a guy bragging about what he can get away with doing to women does not sound so cool to this generation.
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Think of the teens at Enochs High, where students are stepping up to change hearts through HARRT, the Healthy And Responsible Relationships Troop. Students are training to spot the signs of unhealthy relationships and counsel peers on how to make a change or walk away.
Healthy relationships are now being taught as part of health classes at all Modesto high schools, said Thor Harrison and Mike Coats, who oversee educational services for grades 7-12 in Modesto City Schools.
The culture shift HARRT is working to make with their classmates is one their elders have resisted mightily, despite the industrial push from sexual harassment law and litigation.
On college campuses, where hormones and alcohol collide, the challenges of sexual misconduct have more urgency and the approaches more pragmatism. A program with comfortably bland, positive-spin name, Affirmative Consent, is being tried at universities on both coasts.
The goal is to flip the “No means no” mantra to a new mindset: “Yes means yes.” Instead of pressing forward until there is an unmistakable No, young adults are coached to first get an unmistakable Yes.
Being irresistible – still cool. Being an octopus – total loser.
Redundant label aside, the switch from avoiding the red to waiting for the green is more than the latest fad. The California State University system has codified it as Executive Order 1095, the chancellor's dictum that all CSU campuses meet requirements of federal Title IX.
At Stanislaus State in Turlock, all students, coaches and basically everybody get training on affirmative consent and preventing harassment. Crime statistics are too low, too new and too variable to parse if affirmative consent is the answer.
What is clear, though, is that discussions of sex and other long-taboo topics are happening out in the sunshine – not just between giggles in the locker room.