Donald Trump was confronted at the presidential debate Sunday night for his lewd comments from a 2005 tape. The Republican nominee dismissed his offensive language toward women as just "locker room talk," instead shifting to foreign policy. However, the assumption that what Trump said was just words is one that has fallen short for many Americans.
Over the weekend a tape was released of presidential candidate Donald Trump saying "I don't even wait. When you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything….Grab 'em by the pussy. You can do anything."
Some students at USC are looking for Trump to take responsibility for his actions and hold himself accountable.
"It definitely contributes to the culture of saying whatever you want about women and then not having any sort of responsibility about it," said USC sophomore Peter McGarry. "Statements about what you are going to do and how you are going to get away with it are a big deal. That is rape culture, right there."
One in five women in the United States have reported being raped in their lifetime and one in 20 men and women have experienced unwanted sexual aggression, according to a 2012 report produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Reaction to the Trump tape has been strong and support has dropped according to recent polls suggesting that a presidential candidate's speech about sexually assaulting women isn't just "locker room talk." Many women across the nation were outraged by Trump's attempt to normalize sexual assault and took to social media to share their reactions and personal stories of abuse. Professional athletes have also spoken out in protest against the idea that these are typical conversations held in men's locker rooms.
Judy Muller, USC professor of journalism and award-winning television correspondent, said, "Locker room banter is code for male privilege. It allows for rape culture, for the denigration of women."
Trump has run on the platform that he is not "politically correct," but many people feel that his comments objectify women and are an admittance of committing sexual assault.
"Donald Trump doesn't understand that what he said was vile, vulgar and criminal," Muller said.
Graduate student at USC Karina Seaton said, "Wherever you talk, it's talk. If I talk in an ice cream parlor and say, 'Oh that's just ice cream parlor talk, it doesn't make a difference what I said,'… Dismissing it as a certain kind of talk is a way not to take responsibility for what was said."
Ashley Wettlaufer, a recent UCLA graduate, who is working as a nanny, said she has never heard speech like Trump's in the locker room. "I'm a woman and in the girls' locker room there is never talk such as that. I don't think that's locker room talk for the normal person."
Media outlets have also been struggling with the impact of Donald Trump's words as they questioned whether or not to publish his vulgar comments over the weekend.
On Monday, The New York Times Public Editor Liz Spayd published an article detailing The Times' decision to print Trump's comments without censorship. Spayd spoke with political editor Carolyn Ryan, who explained the decision.
"We decided that the words themselves were newsworthy, and that omitting them or merely describing them or slyly hinting at them would not have been forthright with our readers," Ryan told Spayd.
Ryan went on to explain the unusual circumstances where the use of such words would be justifiable.
"Trump is the Republican nominee for the president of the United States," she said. "He alleges to have sexually assaulted women, and the words used in his tape are propelling many members of his own party to abandon him, or at least publicly condemn him."
Journalist at Poynter Institute for Media Studies, Al Tompkins, said, "Obscenity is never allowed on the air but political value is one of the only objections [to that rule]."
Tompkins explained that a direct quote of Trump's words was justifiable and necessary at the time in order for the public to fully understand the disturbing nature of what was said.
"When you bleep a word out, you are raising the possibility he could have said something else," he said.
Annenberg Media wrestled with the ethics of quoting Trump directly. Ultimately, the editorial decision was to use the exact words said by Trump.
Executive Editor Brad Streicher released the following statement on behalf on Annenberg Media's editorial team to address the decision:
"As editors, we decided that the best way to cover Trump's recent comments was to print his words in full, rather than censoring them. We felt that printing his words verbatim serves as a critical part of the story. By shielding the reality of his comments from our audience, we feel we would infringe on our mission to provide our audience with truthful, comprehensive reporting."
Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled the name of the journalist at Poynter Institute for Media Studies. The correct spelling is Al Tompkins.