Date of Award

5-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Applied Sociology

Committee Member

Dr. Sarah Winslow, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Andrew Whitehead

Committee Member

Dr. Joseph Mazer

Abstract

On October 9, 2016 during the second presidential debate, Donald Trump was asked by debate moderators to respond to a recently released audio recording in which Trump can be heard boasting about grabbing women without their consent. The term "locker room talk" was used by Trump to justify the discourse overheard in the tape. The purpose of this qualitative study is to explore the way in which registered Twitter users interpret and react to the use of the term "locker room talk" in relation to nonconsensual sexual activities. Using a sample size of 3,280 tweets, this content analysis draws upon the statements posted by Twitter users during the second presidential debate immediately following Trump's use of the phrase "locker room talk." Data was collected using Radian6 software, and was coded based upon the content, overall sentiment, and frequency of tweets. This study found that Twitter users overwhelmingly rejected Trump's use of the phrase "locker room talk." Twitter users in this sample positioned hegemonic masculinity as a social construct that takes on particular forms for different groups of men. Additionally, Twitter users in this sample created a set of boundaries in relation to the performance of gender, as some stated that "locker room talk" is an appropriate expression of masculinity only for those who are young in age, are an athlete, and are in the confines of a locker room. Lastly, this study found that a small percentage of Twitter users in this sample enacted a process of neutralization in their tweets, as some stated that "locker room talk" should be forgiven when in the presence of actions that are perceived as "worse," such as Hillary Clinton's email scandal.

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