Las Vegas Sun

September 20, 2019

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At UNLV or in NBA, locker rooms are not a haven for sexist ‘banter’

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Marcus Banks

Americans of all political persuasions were shocked and sickened to see a video of Donald Trump making inexcusable comments about how he treats women. With a microphone recording his every word, Trump delivered commentary that can only be described as revolting. He alluded to his unwelcome pursuit of a married woman and made graphic, derogatory remarks, suggesting that his power, wealth and status allowed him to “do anything” to women.

Following the outrage that erupted after the surfaced video, Trump attempted to downplay the severity of his comments, offering what many saw as an insincere apology and describing his abhorrent comments as merely “locker room banter.”

As a former NBA player, a boyfriend, a son and a human being, I can assure you that it’s not “banter” to describe women the way Trump did. That is a sad excuse and an insult to women and men everywhere. If playing basketball taught me anything, it was to treat others — whether it be your coach, teammate or opponent — with respect. And it was in the locker room that our team would meet to build up those values.

Values. Respect. These seem to be difficult concepts for the GOP nominee to understand. Just in this election alone we’ve seen Trump degrade not only women, but African-Americans, Latinos, immigrants, veterans, the disabled, Muslims and many others.

Trump assumed this time around he could get away with justifying his awful comments degrading women by hiding behind the stereotype of hyper-masculinity in the sporting world. But the truth is, most men don’t talk the way Trump talks. Most men don’t talk or even think about women the way Trump does. Having spent my career in and out of locker rooms, it is insulting for Trump to try to bring male athletes to his level of misogyny. What Trump fails to realize is that we have values and respect for other people on and off the playing field.

Most important, I take issue with Trump’s statements because they are so much more than just “talk.” His statements are admissions of sexual assault and predatory behavior against women, and they should not be glossed over or excused. Under no circumstance is it OK to force yourself upon another person, regardless of your wealth, status or title. It should never be a topic of discussion. Period.

This discussion on sexual assault has to be bigger than just Trump. As a society, we cannot allow anyone to believe that forcible sexual encounters are ever appropriate. But that discussion must begin with us sending a clear message this November: no person who thinks of women as objects to be abused can ever serve as the president of the United States.

Marcus Banks, a lifelong resident of Las Vegas, played basketball for the Runnin’ Rebels from 2001 to 2003, when he was selected in the first round of the NBA Draft, and played for 10 years in the NBA.