Here is the full transcript of Alexis Jones’ TEDx Talk: “Locker Room Talk”? Says Who? at TEDxUniversityofNevada Conference. Alexis is the founder of I AM THAT GIRL & ProtectHer.
Listen to the MP3 Audio: Locker room talk Says who by Alexis Jones at TEDxUniversityofNevada
That’s a long walk. I feel like we have to practice with that.
So, first off, what an honor, what a privilege to be on this stage, getting to have this conversation with you all. The truth is that I’ve spent the past three years in college locker rooms, having conversations with young men about the importance of respecting women.
I was recently invited to a major university, and as I was being “debriefed” on the way in, they were telling me what was going on specific to their locker room. I was informed that there was one player who had punched his baby mama; that there were four other players that were facing rape allegations with four separate women; that there were another two players who had filmed and watched one of the rapes of an unconscious girl; and knowing all of this, one of the head coaches came in the day after the election, and he started the chant: “We can grab women by the pussy because this is America.”
Well, that is not the America that I know, and the truth is that sexual assault is but a symptom of the problem. The problem is the mindset of how these young men are being programmed to think about, to talk about, and to treat women.
Now before I dive into the whole talk, I feel like I have to preface a few disclaimers. One: I’m absolutely going to mess up. I just accepted that that’s going to happen. And I’m probably going to blank out at some point, so please be gentle with me. On top of it, there are brilliant people who have dedicated their entire lives to this conversation, and institutions who have paved the way, so I am but offering my humble two cents.
Number two: ProtectHer is but a starting place for us. We’ve recognize that men are also sexually assaulted, one in ‘16. We know that the LGBT community is also assaulted, and while those communities absolutely deserve our attention, for the sake of this conversation, I am going to be speaking about “her,” because violence against women is a house on fire, and I will be speaking in heterosexual stereotypes.
Number three: ProtectHer is not implying that women are weak and that we can’t protect ourselves, so we need men to come and help protect us. ProtectHer is an invitation for all of humanity to better prioritize the women and girls.
Now, what’s interesting is that some schools call me because, you know, at the end of the day, they care about what’s going on in their locker rooms. But before I ever started in locker rooms, I worked in girl empowerment for a decade.
When I was 19 years old, I founded a nonprofit called I AM THAT GIRL. We’re basically a bad-ass version of girl scouts for college girls. We have about a million girls involved now, and we just opened up a chapter in our 20th country. So the truth is – thank you, man ! I dig that.
So, the truth is that I have a name, and a face, and a story for every time someone talks about girls in statistic form. And it wasn’t until three years ago that Yogi Roth and Trent Dilfer called me, and they asked me to come and give a talk to the top 18 high school quarterbacks for a TV show called “Elite Eleven.” What I didn’t realize was that when it aired on ESPN, a week later, everything with Ray Rice would come out. And suddenly, I was that girl in the locker room, having tough love conversations with men about the importance of respecting women.
Now it probably helped that I worked at FOX Sports and ESPN, and that I grew up in Texas where football is a religion, that I grew up with four older brothers. My father’s the very best man that I know, my husband was a professional athlete for nine years. And what’s interesting is all of a sudden being hired by division one schools all over the country, that I was invited behind the velvet curtain to better understand what was going on with them.
Like I said, there were some schools who were hiring me because they had an incident going on in their locker rooms, and there were other schools who were just legitimately concerned, and I had one head coach call me, and he said he was worried because he had a daughter, and the way in which these young men were talking about women, that was so disrespectful.
So sure enough, I fly out and I am sitting there, and halfway through my talk — we’re sitting in a circle in the locker, you can imagine, the only girl — and halfway through my talk, one of the guys raises his hand and he says: “You know, I get it, it’s important to ‘respect’ chicks, but it’s cool to fuck chicks.” And you can imagine, the coach is like, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” He is sitting there, shaking his head, looking down at the ground.
And so, I look up at this kid, and I said, “Okay, says who?” Now there is this long pause, and immediately he is looking at his boys left and right who are equally mortified, staring down at the ground like, “You’ve got to be kidding me. We’re for sure running sprints now.”