Look, I know what is meant by the term. It doesn't mean LITERALLY locker rooms--though the folks at Sports Illustrated seemed to think so with this helpful disclaimer: http://www.si.com/nfl/2016/10/09/ap-us-locker-room-talk-athletes
What is meant is something akin to "this is how men talk when there aren't women around."
It's actually more than that, though. A LOT more. The defense "locker room talk" means as many of the following as you can stand:
"Guy-talk when no chicks are around to make us watch what we say."
"What men are TRULY thinking."
"The ways men try and promote themselves and their sexual prowess, conquests, and history."
"Overexaggerated hypermasculine talk not meant to be taken at face value."
And so on. The thing is, none of that matters. Let's set up a little analogy. If a white person were caught on tape saying, "I feel like going out and lynching some nI**ers, because I'm white and can get away with it" and then defended the utterance by saying, "Oh, that's just country-club talk," or somesuch, would we all just let it slide?
Let me be as candid as possible. I've spent a LOT of time in locker rooms and with very traditionally masculine men. High school football, then NCAA D-III football. Nine years, plus the time I've spent as a coach in locker rooms, on buses, in huddles, and so on. What REALLY goes on there?
Men do talk about women and their bodies. Not much, really. But it does happen. Is it objectification? I suppose, yeah, it is. Believe it or not, oftentimes men will use euphemisms for female body parts that get increasingly bizarre and symbolic. I remember specifically in college an incident. The football team met the night before a game for "movie night." While the designated players were retrieving the movies from the local rental place (this is the late 80's, remember) the rest of us would spend the time with some kind of "list" on the lecture hall blackboard. One night, the list was "synonyms for female reproductive organs." The terminology got so increasingly bizarre and outre that I--not one to know many terms--shouted "Gort!" to see if it would make the list. My theory was that most of the men in the room hadn't heard the terms either but were going along so as not to look inexperienced. Sure enough, the word "Gort" appeared in chalk.
As many of you know, Gort is the name of the silent android servant to Michael Rennie's Klaatu in the 1951 classic sci-fi film The Day the Earth Stood Still.
So. Was the list sexist? I think that's debatable. Probably, yeah. Mostly, though, it was just silly. Made more so by the inclusion of a fictional robot on it.
What else goes on in a locker room? You might be surprised, but there is often some substantive talk about relationships. When we know a relationship is becoming serious, we will inquire seriously about the prospect of marriage and so on. We are truly supportive to one another. And if a breakup has happened, men do console one another.
The locker room isn't genteel, that's for sure. And I am not sure it is any more "real" than any other sphere where people gather. It's the home of ridiculous pranks and hijinks, (we managed to fill a small trashcan with urine and dumped it over the separating shower wall between offensive and defensive players, for example, giving our defensive counterparts a nice golden shower) of gripes and grouses about life, of shared in-jokes and jargon only we know.
But it's not barbaric. It's not vile. A man who would speak in terms as were uncovered recently in the media would be shunned and reprimanded. There is an unspoken code, a silent order to things among men. Those who break this code or disrupt the order by being monsters are dealt with by other men.
A man can be rough, uncultured, uncouth, and raw. But a true man at his core respects others, even if that respect takes odd forms. A man might respect his fellow man by engaging in physical combat--even the artificial combat of sport. A man might respect a woman by calling her after practice to tell her he's done. Yes, he would get gentle ribbing by his fellow-men for that, but at the core of it, other men find that behavior steadfast.
I've done some things in my past I am not proud of. I have not always shown the respect to people I should. I have had moments of deep selfishness. I will and do carry those moments with me forever, and they are heavy. I have acted disgracefully at times, and the shame that now goes with those times will not be washed off.
But I have striven to be a MAN in all things. Sometimes I come up short, sometimes I don't. It's the striving, I think, that matters. To reach for an ideal, even if one cannot grasp it, is important.
Let's make sure we all try for that. And let's make sure when we select a representative or leader--someone we will stand behind--this person is pointed at the light and is on the side of angels.
Be seeing you!