Wilkes University


Coming Out of the Locker Room

Coming Out of the Locker Room: Lessons on Language and Gender from Presidential Politics by Jennifer Sclafani, Ph.D will be presented on Wednesday, Feb. 22 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the Savitz Lounge. The webinar, sponsored by NEPDEC, is hosted by Diversity Affairs.

Throughout the 2016 presidential election, questions about what constitutes presidential language – and questions of appropriateness and political correctness more generally – have been at the forefront of political media coverage. They have now also begun surfacing in our daily conversations with colleagues, friends, and families. While Donald Trump’s controversial remarks about women have been described by some as textbook examples of sexist and misogynist language, others have excused it as merely locker room talk or ritual male bonding that is often rationalized by the expression “boys will be boys.”

Linguists have been studying the language of male and female bonding for decades. In this webinar, we will discuss findings from research on the differences in how men and women really interact with each other; we will critically consider the social norms that make us interpret men’s and women’s language differently (often without realizing it); and we will discuss the implications of excusing offensive language just because it happens behind closed doors. Finally, we will consider how new media technologies are blurring the boundaries between private and public talk, and how we can better navigate these boundaries in our own lives.

Dr. Sclafani is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Department of Linguistics at Georgetown University, where she teaches courses in sociolinguistics, cross-cultural communication, language and gender, and political discourse analysis. She received her Ph.D. in Linguistics from Georgetown University and has also taught at Hellenic American University (Athens, Greece) and the University of Vienna (Austria). She has worked as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language in Italy, France, and her hometown of Boston. Her research focuses on how people use language to construct meaning, navigate social relationships, and negotiate social categories like gender, social class and race. She also researches the language of political leadership and is currently working on a book entitled Talking Donald Trump: A Sociolinguistic Study of Style, Metadiscourse, and Political Identity.