This Locker Room Talk Is Not What You Think — And That’s The Point

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Alexis Jones spends a lot of time in locker rooms across the country, attempting to redefine manhood and invite men like college athletes into the conversation about masculinity and sexual assault.

While she waits in the wings before each speech, the coach reads her bio – using no female pronouns – speaking of a person who has survived 20 days on a desert island, hiked Everest and worked at Fox Sports. The guys aren’t necessarily sure what they’re about to get in to, but it certainly sounds pretty cool.

Then Jones walks in, and the confrontation is immediate.

“One in five women have been sexually assaulted on this college campus,” she says as she enters, long and wavy hair flowing behind her. “That only represents 20% of girls. We’re talking staggering pandemic levels.”

Typically, the guys audibly shift in their seats. A girl? Talking about sexual assault and respecting women? Yawn.

Then, familiar faces start filling the screen. Faces of the athletes’ mothers, sisters and girlfriends. Jones points them out.

“I’m talking about Sarah,” she says. “I’m talking about Danielle, about Savannah.”

Almost immediately, there’s a visceral shift in the room. The men start sitting up a little straighter, their ears perk up, and they’re all in.

“It is a different conversation,” Jones says. “I’ve got their full attention. It activates the protector in them, in a very different part of the brain, and now they’re sitting up in their chairs, eager to know what they can do to help.”

This is how Jones is trying to shift the conversation on college campuses around rape culture.

Jones is no stranger to empowering the millennial generation. She started the nonprofit I Am That Girl during her time at the University of Southern California, when she realized that she wanted to talk about things that mattered. An initial meeting of six girls spun into over 300 just weeks later, and 10 years in, the community consists of over 1.2 million girls who want to change the landscape of womanhood around the world through having meaningful conversations, defeating stereotypes and being themselves.

After being invited to speak at a summit of some of the nation’s most talented high school quarterbacks in a program called Elite 11, the trajectory of Jones’ career changed.

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