“It’s a very, very fine and insidious line.”
In recent times we’ve started to hear a lot about the concept of ‘locker-room talk’.
What does it mean exactly? How does it fit into our daily lives and most importantly, how can we combat it?
Locker-room talk is described as rude, vulgar, or bawdy talk, often involving boasts about sexual conquests.
There is a massive issue with it when it comes to online groups; Snapchat or WhatsApp for example, where locker-room talk takes place among a closed selection of people and where the target of the abuse has probably no idea it’s happening.
The Government of Ireland’s ‘No Excuses’ campaign aims to tackle this issue amongst others, with help from organisations such as the National Office for Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence, and the Galway Rape Crisis Centre.
To discuss the subject, Louise from The Hub spoke to Michelle Caulfielde, who works for the Galway Rape Crisis Centre and as a teen therapist.
Michelle explained the line between banter and sexual harassment can be very subtle, yet defined, especially in today’s social climate:
“It’s a very, very fine and insidious line. When you look at our male culture in the Western world at the moment, look at our world leaders, our sports heroes… powerful, wealthy men, celebrity culture.
”Social media has flung us into the face of that hyper sexualized culture. But it’s a very fine line when you’re directing at one vulnerable person, whether that be male or female.”
Michelle also touched on the fact that lads can come under huge pressure to act a certain way, particularly when in a group:
“We tend to forget that lads bully lads and it’s really done in male groups and there’s pressure. They push individual people, under a lot of pressure, and they get bullied and that is lad culture.”
“Men are under huge pressure to behave in a way that’s not appropriate.”
So how can we combat this? Well, as Michelle said, the direct option is often an effective way to pull someone up on their behaviour:
“I would say first and foremost, something short, simple, and sweet.
“It’s not okay, leave [them] alone.” Then turn your attention to the victim.
“Are you alright? That wasn’t cool… Is there anything you want to do about this?
”Then maybe at a different time, go back to your friends and go, ‘what are you after? What are you doing this for? What’s the need?’
“In terms of reporting, I think it’s really important to report, even if you see something in a nightclub or a bar. Go to the silver staff member, go to the manager.“
It’s also important to remember that instances of harassment such as this can be treated and prosecuted as a sexual offence. You can check it out more at gov.ie/noexcuses. Or in an emergency, you can call 999.
If you’ve been affected by any of the content in this article you can contact the Galway Rape Crisis Centre at 1800 355 355.