by Craig Klugman, Ph.D.
Over the last few days, a number of recordings have come to light showing Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump saying lewd, lascivious, and down right crass statements about women. His response was “It’s just locker room talk.” The problem, Mr. Trump is that words do matter and what we say when we think no one is watching is an insight into our true selves and what we really think.
This issue is quite salient in the culture of medicine. In many of the inner sanctums of medicine, such as the operating room, locker room talk is a regular occurrence. Many physicians with whom I have spoken tell stories of doctors making fun of patients bodies, checking out patient’s genitalia, commenting on weight or body shape, denigrating a patient’s race or sex. Several cases of patients accidentally and deliberately recording their surgery demonstrate this phenomena. This is not the rare occurrence, this is part of the OR culture. Doctors say that they are simply blowing off steam and dealing with the unusual stress and high stakes that exist in the OR. Is this simply blowing off steam? Or is it an expression of disrespect of patients? Or is it a display of one’s true inner beliefs in a situation where one feels safe, in control, and free of being judged by others (because one is in a high position of power)?
The locker room, according to sociologist Timothy Jon Curry is a place of masculinity where male dominance is displayed in a bastion of male privilege.