The most disheartening thing to come out of the recent revelation of “The Trump Tapes” (which I suspect will be referred to as ‘Volume 1’ before long) is the roll-out of the “Men talk like this” defense.
I am confident that in my past I have said things in private that I would be ashamed of if they had been recorded and released publicly. I understand the idea of “Locker Room banter”, and when I was young and single I cannot say I never engaged in it with my closest trusted friends. I am not a perfect man but I continually strive to be one, understanding I will always fall just short. My locker room banter was nothing like this though…
Ever since I have started hearing from shameless apologists like Rudy Giuliani (whom I once admired) I have felt absolutely compelled to express a vigorous defense on behalf of myself, and many men much better than myself.
All men do not talk and act like this.
There are bold distinctions between locker room banter (so called “guy stuff”) and the horror we saw and heard in the Billy Bush video.The locker room banter I mentioned above is often young men satisfying their curiosity, asking questions about stuff because the reality is that they have no experience and hope to learn something. It is often vague and based partially in fantasy (i.e. regarding celebrities), and when it is more specific it is usually framed in the clear implication that any sexual contact or activity would be with a willing partner.
What Donald Trump discussed in that video, is using a position of power to take advantage of women, whether married or not, with or without consent. This was in his heart in 2005 when he was 60 years old and had recently entered into a new marriage. But Trump issued a statement (which came only after someone convinced him this was serious) in which he said “Anyone who knows me knows these words don’t reflect who I am”. When did the change occur?
I can look anyone directly in the eye with my hand on a bible and tell you that I have never uttered words like this, and never will. More importantly, I have never acted like this. One of the reasons this was so disturbing to so many is because we know that Trump has had every opportunity to act this way. He is well known, rich and powerful enough, that we know he is actually capable of pulling this stuff off. He said he did! This is horrifying because we BELIEVE him when he says what he has done.
Trump surrogates are out in force today defending Trump and suggesting the issue was with his words. The words are not the problem. This is not something you can brush aside with complaints about ‘political correctness’ or ‘biased media’. The issue is that Trump exposed himself not just as a lousy political candidate (even men who share his morals work harder to maintain a squeaky clean public facade), but as a really bad man.
To further illustrate the shocking role reversal between the parties right now, a democratic commentator this morning on “This Week” with George Stephanopolous had to address the desperate argument of some apologists including Rudy Giuliani that “Christians are supposed to forgive sinners”. This is, of course true.
Only, the pitiful forgiveness argument ignores how forgiveness actually works. Forgiveness in the Christian sense is given to those who repent. As the commentator explained:
First, you have to express authentic, genuine regret. Second, you have to repair the damage of what you have done through your actions with the individuals that you damaged. Too, you have to reform your behavior so that there’s proof of it and, fourth, you have to accept responsibility and take responsibility for your actions and be held accountable for those.
Trump could barely eek out his “apology” which stressed how LONG AGO this was, and addressed only the comments, not the conduct, before turning the tables and essentially arguing that “Bill is worse! Bill is worse!”.
Does this sound like taking accountability?
I spend my life focused on how to keep my family together, healthy and happy. I have learned that it is impossible for me to do it on my own. The best way I have found to keep myself on track as a man is to surrender myself to God and to aim for the example set by Jesus.
To my sons: Physical attraction is normal and you should never be ashamed of it. It’s even OK to talk about with friends in a respectful way. You should date women, enjoy their company, and adore them.
It is not cool, normal or moral to use a position of influence or power to enable physical contact with a person who is not a willing participant. Marriage is very important and very fragile. There will be constant challenges and temptation which do not end even after many years of marriage. The strongest men are faithful to their wives. To covet a married woman, or interfere with her marriage is disgusting and deplorable. It ruins lives.
The words we use reveal what’s in our heart.
Luckily I don’t need to withdraw my support for Donald Trump because I have never supported him. Nothing I have ever seen of Trump leads me to believe he is anything other than a Commodus, entitled and defective in character, never having picked up any morals because there is nothing to be gained by them.
I didn’t need a new video to figure this out.
I just wanted to clear the record and refute the dangerous idea that “we all talk like this.” I personally know way too many men who have put forth extraordinary effort to be good men and good husbands for us all to be cheapened by Trump’s latest excuse.