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    Harvard women make clear: ‘The whole world is a locker room’

    FILE -- Students walk across Harvard Yard on the Harvard University campus in Cambridge, Mass., Jan. 14, 2016. Cafeteria workers at Harvard, who went on strike early in October of 2016, in an effort to avoid an increase in their health care costs and to earn higher salaries, could return to work on Oct. 27 after a tentative agreement was reached with the university, a union president said.(Charlie Mahoney/The New York Times)
    Charlie Mahoney/New York Times
    Students walk across Harvard Yard on the Harvard University campus.

    Read between the lines. The female Harvard soccer players who were the subject of a sexually explicit “scouting report” see a connection between Donald Trump and the college men who rated them.

    So should everyone else.

    “Locker room’’ talk is not an excuse, because this is not limited to athletic teams. “The whole world is a locker room,” the women wrote in an op-ed for The Harvard Crimson — a clear reference to Trump and his effort to explain away the vulgarity and sexual predatory behavior he expressed on the “Access Hollywood” tape.


    With Trump as the country’s groper in chief, imagine then how much harder it would be to call out men of any age for lewdness and sexual assault.

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    For those who now wish to insert Bill Clinton into the discussion, his transgressions occurred a quarter of a century ago. It’s 2016, and Hill Clinton, not Bill, is running for president. Trump is the only candidate whose election makes sexism and male entitlement the distinguishing characteristics of the next president.

    In their op-ed for the Crimson, the six female soccer recruits, who graduated in 2016, said they were not surprised by the report on the tradition of the male soccer players to rate their appearance and assign “sex” positions. (Harvard has cancelled the remainder of the men’s soccer team season, the Crimson reported, after it was determined that the practice of creating such a “scouting report,” which first came to light regarding the 2012 team, has continued into the 2016 season.)

    “The sad reality is that we have come to expect this kind of behavior from so many men, that it is so ‘normal’ to us we often decide it is not worth our time or effort to dwell on.”

    That is sad. These Harvard women attended an Ivy League school designated for the best and brightest. Yet their definition of “normal” male behavior was no different from the definition of “normal” male behavior of generations past, experienced in less prestigious settings.


    After numerous women came forward with allegations about Trump’s inappropriate behavior, women of all ages and backgrounds started publicly discussing the harassment and assaults they experienced over time. Details varied, but resignation was the common theme to all the stories. When the incidents happened, the women usually told no one, because they believed nothing could change the bad behavior of men they encountered in work, school, and life.

    Rather than remain resigned, however, these Harvard women came forward together. The title to their op-ed is “Stronger Together,” which echoes Clinton’s campaign slogan. “We know as teammates that we rise to the occasion, that we are stronger together and that we will not tolerate anything less than respect for women that we care for more than ourselves,” they wrote.

    Think about Trump and how he has treated the women in his life — not to mention how he has treated the female candidate who is running against him.

    All that ridiculous talk about Clinton’s stamina and his sexist observations about how she doesn’t look presidential. His determination to humiliate Clinton by putting the women who accused her husband of inappropriate behavior front and center during one of their debates. His belittling name-calling of Clinton and female surrogates like Elizabeth Warren and his baiting of female reporters.

    There is a direct tie to Trump’s attitude and that of young college men who believe it’s OK to view female athletes strictly as sexual conquests. On election day, we will see if women finally stick together to keep that attitude out of the White House. If we don’t, locker room talk takes up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue — and the culture it celebrates becomes a model for the country.

    Joan Vennochi can be reached at vennochi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @Joan_Vennochi.