The persistence of “locker room talk”

I don’t think of my time at the University of Minnesota Law School from 1976 to 1979 as ancient history. My teachers and classes remain vivid in my mind. It seems like yesterday. Yet Paul’s comments on “locker room talk” among athletes at elite colleges reminds me “that was in another country, and besides, the wench is dead,” so to speak.

In a sense, the seventies partake of the modern era in legal education. The law school was full of women, from a third to a half of the students and several faculty members. Several of them populated the top of my class. Many of my female classmates were quite attractive as well.

For me, this was a novelty. Up to that point I had attended an all-boys school and a men’s college. When I finally experienced coeducation as a law student, I had a hard time concentrating.

As I recall, the law school students at the University of Minnesota conducted an annual election — the Plonsker-Baine Poll — to determine the women at the law school whom the men would most like to sleep with. The voting was conducted on the law school premises and the results were posted in the law school’s administrative offices. The posted results noted the top 10 women as democratically determined.

I am writing here from imperfect memory and knowledge, but I still recall who came in first in the 1977 poll. I should add that I have no recollection of the poll continuing after the 1976-1977 school year. The very thought of the poll now seems, well, unthinkable.

Times have changed, but the nature of men and women hasn’t. Watching my daughters progress through my now coeducational high school alma mater, I witnessed their relentless indoctrination from kindergarten through twelfth grade in the politically correct tenets on sex and culture with which we have all become familiar. Nevertheless, the girls — it was their conversations that I overheard — still disparaged unmanly boys as “gay.”

Using the adjective as a term of disparagement is of course a thought crime and a disciplinary offense. Despite the indoctrination, the girls continued in their own way to observe the natural distinction between men and women, between masculine and feminine. The persistence of nature seems to me at the root of the difficulty of legislating away the “locker room talk” on which Paul comments as well.