Thoughts From A Female Friend on Locker Room Talk

Yesterday, Elizabeth Kraus, a good friend and the co-founder of MergeLane (we are investors), sent me the following blog post and asked me if I would reblog it on my site. After reading it, I felt she expressed her thoughts on Trump’s “locker room talk” extremely well. The original post appears at Please, Mr. Trump, Stop Calling This “Locker Room Talk”

Dear Mr. Trump,

Thanks to the hard work of many before me, I, an entrepreneur born in the same year as your daughter Ivanka, have grown up believing I could do everything my brother could do. I’ve never really felt the weight of the glass ceiling. I co-founded MergeLane, an accelerator and fund for high-growth startups with at least one woman in leadership. I’m proud to say that we’ve outperformed all of our projections because so many people believe investing in women is the smart thing to do. I’ve always imagined that you also believe this to be true.MergeLane Co-Founder Elizabeth Kraus

It is hard to deny what you’ve achieved as an entrepreneur. Before this election, I would have jumped at the opportunity to have a meeting with you.

Today, I woke up with the sad realization that I would be afraid to be alone in a room with you.

I experienced what you are calling “locker room talk” at my first job when I was 16 years old. I overheard my superiors talking about women in a way very similar to how you and Billy Bush spoke in that video. Although they never said anything like that directly to me, it was paralyzing to think about what they might be saying behind my back or what they might do to me when no one was watching.

I started wearing baggy clothes. I stopped wearing makeup. Most sadly, when my boss told me I was the best employee he had ever had, I dismissed the compliment because I was also the only female employee he had ever had.

It took me years of meeting with supportive, trustworthy men to overcome this paranoia. I’ve gone back to wearing fashionable and feminine clothes. I regularly meet alone with male CEOs and powerful public figures. I’ve experienced and overheard the occasional slightly inappropriate comments, but as a whole, I have felt extreme gratitude for the respectful men who have supported me throughout my career.

Since the age of 16, I have not felt the feeling of fear and sadness that I felt when I listened to your tape. To hear this from the man who may be the next President of the United States was more disappointing than you can ever know.

I know you’ve apologized. I appreciate your apology, but please, I beg of you, stop calling this “locker room talk.” When you and your supporters refer to it as such, it feels as if you are dismissing it as something that is normal. While I would be severely disappointed if it is common practice, I, and women and men everywhere know that it shouldn’t be. More importantly, we  have hope that one day it won’t be.

As you’ve acknowledged, it was a mistake. Please refer to it as nothing but a mistake.

If, as I predict from your previous responses, you would ask why I am not asking the Clintons to address the questions the public has raised about them, I have. I wrote my first public article at the age of 14 to express my disappointment in how President Clinton handled his affair. I will be releasing a letter to Secretary Clinton this week to express why I – a daughter, an entrepreneur, and an American – desperately need her to take the moral high ground.

It is my deepest hope that we will elect leaders who will make me feel proud to be an American and safe as a woman.

Thank you for listening.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Kraus
Daughter, granddaughter, and Chief Investment Officer, MergeLane


Also published on Medium.

  • Welcome back!

    I’m going to make my only political statement of the season on this blog. Both the dem and repuke party candidates are literally disgusting. I’m voting for Johnson because he’s a serious candidate (ex Gov. of NM) that is civil and well-mannered that’s fiscally conservative, socially moderate, and only wants to attack when we’re attacked. That sounds perfect to me in this season of vitriol.

    • Ross Perot.
      Ralph Nader.

    • Me too. One is unqualified, one has disqualified themselves. I get that Americans want to through a molotov cocktail into govt. Clearly, it’s not working for a lot of people. They are angry, hence the rise of Bernie and Trump. Ironically, if the Republicans had super delegates and the Dems were organized like Republicans we’d be looking at a Bernie/Jeb Bush race. I was no fan of Bush either-wanted Rand Paul or Scott Walker. I’d rather give them Johnson and take a four year break. (double entendre intended-apologize for the locker room talk : )

      I also find that when Sarah Palin was being character assassinated with all kinds of horrible epithets, Democrats were silent. As Brad has said, everyone has their own reality.

      • See my comment above.

        If Trump truly wanted to change things, he would announce he is quitting during the debate and announce he is endorsing Johnson.

        I would pay to see Hilary’s face. I would bet she would say you can’t do that it’s not the way Washington DC works!!

    • You know if Trump were really interested in shaking things up. He would pull out at the last minute and endorse Johnson.

      That would have both the Republicans and Democrats shaking in their boots.

      He would finally study for a debate, not say anything crazy and say this is why politics is what it is, but if you can’t stand Washington Insiders vote for Johnson.

      He would then also salvage his reputation because he could say he was crazy as a fox.

  • Seriously?

    ” I dismissed the compliment because I was also the only attractive female employee he had ever had”

    You had me until you decided which female employees were attractive or not. What a horrible thing to say.

    • Maybe it’s simply factual. There could have been only males working there before.

      • Elizabeth Kraus

        Thanks to both of you for catching me on this. From a factual standpoint, I was indeed the first female to hold that position. I was in no way making a judgment on the attractiveness of the other employees. Regardless, the word “attractive” is unnecessary in that sentence. I apologize. I appreciate you pointing out the unintended consequences of it.

        • I went ahead and edited it to delete the word “attractive.”

  • LV

    Well said. When I worked as an engineer, I found that the guy (my boss for a while) who was constantly talking about how he liked to promote women in tech and how he had two daughters was also the one who made me the most uncomfortable. We would be walking down a hall and he would comment on how women’s asses looked. I think of him a lot when I hear about how Trump likes to promote women.

  • Firstly – the ‘locker room’ thing – What Bush describes as ‘locker room talk’ isn’t locker room talk. Twitter is flooded with pro athletes saying that their locker rooms don’t have that kind of talk. His speech wasn’t locker room talk.

    Secondly – throughout my life I have literally NEVER heard men talk about women in those terms. Men do talk about women and they do discuss their appearance and/or how much they’d like to have some form of sex with them. BUT never in my experience have they described how they are prepared to force themselves on a woman and talk like that as if it is acceptable or in some way normal. This being the case when you say “I overheard my superiors talking about women in a way very similar to how you and Billy Bush spoke in that video.” I think you were very very unfortunate. I’m really sorry it happened but it is very very very far from being commonplace. There is no hidden such community of men talking like this all the time everywhere in all workplaces. Trump is an entitled freak. he’s not normal.

    • Elizabeth Kraus

      Thanks for the kind thoughts Pete. The silver lining in all of this is that women and men everywhere have stood up to denounce this. Means a lot.

      • 🙂

      • It was not “locker room” talk. I have had men describe to me the consensual enjoyment they have had with a woman the night before, and I have overheard women describe the enjoyment they had with a man the night before (the female versions actually were more graphic and better described)

        Should it happen? Probably not but that is “locker room” talk.

        It is never, ever acceptable in the workplace. It is never, ever acceptable about another employee. That should be an instantly terminable offense.

        But I think that killed his campaign.

        People are voting this year against corrupt versus crazy. Which is easier to control?

        They thought they were voting about big government or small. Government Insiders versus people that want to shake things up.

        In the Democratic Primary people took corrupt over crazy and both were Government Insiders.

        In the Republican primary the voters took an outsider of Government Insiders (look how fast Bush was taken out) because crazy was suspected but not confirmed.

        You have have him on tape describing how he as a married man sexually assaulted a married woman. It is actually worse than the deplorable, despicable actions described. It showed total lack of judgement and impulse control. It also confirmed he doesn’t think that rules apply to him because he is rich. To top it off he said it to a person he didn’t know when he should have known he could be on tape.

    • David DuPont

      I totally agree, Pete. Trump was describing assault, a far more repugnant thing.

  • I’m raising a 15 year old girl, who is for now in girls’ school, as I was until her age. I expect she will be vocal, as you are, about what she finds intolerable treatment aimed at women which demeans, objectifies, makes unsafe by fact or feeling. She is the perfect age for this disgusting election, this first Feminist Election.

    I hope the feminist election is followed by the likes of walk outs where needed like Iceland had in the 70’s, or Poland had recently – to drive the point home. All this handwringing over how to fix the troubles or double standards you and I face as female entrepreneurs and female workers, mothers and mothers to be, simply needs to be ripped out like a bad tooth.

  • Aashay Mody

    Excellent letter!

  • It’s not locker room talk and it’s not normal.

  • Ken Kong

    In this age of hyper-partisanship it takes a person of extreme integrity to come out against these types of assaults simply because sexual assault is wrong. Donald is in the wrong. Bill was in the wrong. Victims, such as I, and their friends and families understand this. Partisans don’t care.