THERE are, no doubt, in many professions conversations that would disquiet or even appal outsiders.

Newsrooms, at one point and certainly not as frequently now, would have been display cases of bluntly explicit phrases. Medics, too, would have shorthands for conditions or situations that, should they be heard by a patient or relative, would feel callous.

In the law, also, language is used to quickly and brusquely convey an experience or tactic.

The callousness of the language serves as a buffer between reality and the impact reality has on the psyche of those repeatedly exposed to other people's trauma. A coping mechanism.

I can remember around 15 years ago first hearing an older editor describe an elderly pedestrian who had been killed by a car as having been "skittled". It's certainly very difficult to imagine any of my peers using such a phrase. This is not to suggest we're a more empathetic bunch, rather that we've arrived to our professional lives at a time when the power of language is part of our zeitgeist.

"All I need to do is put a smell on her." There's one such phrase that would stop you in your tracks. We don't know to whom Gordon Jackson, the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, was speaking when he said this phrase on the Edinburgh to Glasgow train line, a train line famously populated by journalists, politicians and government workers on their daily trek between the two cities.

But presumably Mr Jackson felt he was talking to a receptive audience, one who would not recoil at the notion of making a woman's reputation stink as part of something as sensitive as a sexual abuse trial.

The Dean of Faculty, recorded speaking openly on the train about details of the Alex Salmond trial, has self-referred to the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission. As well as giving a glimpse behind the curtain as to how certain lawyers frame the tactics they use in court, he also named two of complainers.

As this story broke in the Scottish Sunday Times, Rape Crisis Scotland also released a letter from the women complainers involved in the trial. "We would request that as you debate," the open letter says, "You conduct it respectfully."

The past week has shown there is much to be debated in the aftermath of the trial, which found the former First Minister not guilty of all charges bar one, for which a verdict of not proven was returned.

There has been debate about the impact the case will have on the SNP, whether it will damage the reputation of the party, whether the party will be cleaved in two. There has been debate about the impact on Nicola Sturgeon, on the result of impending inquiries and on, of course, independence.

Predominately, there has been much debate about the motivations of the women who testified against Mr Salmond in court. And with this debate have come all the tired old tropes, parroted out whether they stand up to scrutiny or not.

One does not have to be anti-Alex Salmond or anti-independence to feel squeamish at elements of the public debate and see how problematic the discourse has been. It has also been deeply frustrating to anyone hoping for gender equality.

Third sector organisations and the court system have worked to try to make the court process as supportive to victims of sexual crimes as it can be. Yet throughout the trial one of Scotland's most senior lawyers used phrases such as describing Woman A as having "something devious" about her. How regressive it sounds to frame women as sly and scheming.

How depressing - but not particularly surprising - to have a peek behind the curtain and hear the language used by a legal professional when describing his client's female foe.

But how regressive it has also sounded to hear, in the public conversation, sleazy and inappropriate behaviour minimised as being no big deal. How frustrating to hear the old nonsense about how women should deal out slaps to the face or kicks elsewhere when subjected to a man's handsy behaviour. Meeting violation with violation is not a solution, and certainly not when it would likely lead to career damage for the woman.

How tiresome to see repeated the words "But there was a female judge and majority female jury" as if we don't know that women are conditioned to accept men's inappropriate behaviour. That is, of course, not to suggest that is what happened in the Salmond case - only the jurors know their own motivations.

But it is a simplistic, tired trope and one we could do with ditching. Each public conversation on this issue should move us forward a little bit, but it seems this time that we're moving backwards.

For all the understandable focus on Mr Jackson’s reckless grandstanding, other attitudes to women shown during the trial and many others like it are where our concerns should lie.