Last night I sat in my home office with both hands hovering over my laptop’s keyboard, wishing there was an emoji that “nodded furiously in agreement.” If only Facebook would add a “Like” emoji version 2.0 that hopped up and down in approval, I thought.
I had to settle for words on this one. The reason for my approval? A Facebook post by Derek Steele, a Michigan father of three children, including two boys.
Steele watched on CNN as former New York City Mayor, Rudy Giuliani tried to explain away Donald Trump’s recent vulgar and abusive words on a leaked video recording by saying, “Men at times talk like that.” Steele couldn’t believe what he was hearing. So he opened up Facebook and began to type a status. It was a status he hoped would find its way to the eyes and hearts of his two young sons some day in the future when they were old enough to have their own Facebook profiles.
Since the leaked video recording from 2005 between Donald Trump and Billy Bush hit the airwaves last week, I’ve been trying to wrap my head around it. I made the mistake of watching the clip in its entirety, and then felt like throwing up. The despicable and degrading way the two of them carelessly banter back and forth about another human being, as if she’s a piece of property, is too much to take. It’s disgusting, it’s vile, it’s inhuman!
As a writer, I simply had no words (or at least words I could put in print). So many emotions stirred in me. I felt angry, sad, and shocked. I thought about our country. This is the person some want to occupy the highest office in the land? I thought. How can we, a country built on integrity and strong character, justify that? Then my wife and daughters flashed through my mind. I thought about what I would do to the guy who ever said words to them like Trump said in the video.
After reading Steele’s Facebook status, I found words. He expressed to his sons exactly what was spinning in my heart and mind. It was my exact feelings on this whole video disaster. Steele writes:
Men do not, at times, talk like that. Sure some individuals with an X and Y chromosome like you may say something like that, but we do not call them Men. We call them perverts, abusers, or rapists—not Men. Real Men don’t do that and wouldn’t even think to say that.
You will hear a lot of people tell you what Men do or what it takes to ‘be a Man.’ The vast majority of it will be total garbage. If you want to be a Man, forget about machoism or sexual conquest. Being a Man is not about that. It’s about protecting those around you who are weak or innocent—maybe a child being bullied or your own children.
Yes, Steele, a million times over—YES, YES, YES! We aren’t called to demoralize, belittle, or insult. We’re called to protect, build up, and lift up—with our words and with our actions. What kind of a man uses his words, his influence, or his platform to say the things Trump said? And what kind of man stands by and dismisses them as things “men say at times”? Derek Steele doesn’t say them—and neither do I. Frankly, all of the men I call close friends have never spoken the words Trump said to their wives, girlfriends, fiancés, sisters, or acquaintances.
Do you want a portrait of a what a real man actually does? As Steele writes:
Men get puked on, pooped on, bled on, and cried on. It’s about being open with someone, vulnerable, and accountable. It’s admitting your mistakes and failures—in all its ugliness—and seeking forgiveness, over and over and over again. Real Men play dress up and enjoy tea parties and will make a complete fool out of themselves just to hear a child laugh. They cry, even weep, when the situation calls for it. They respect, honor, and cherish women because all of them are human—created in the image of the Creator.
This is what real men do. This is what makes a man a man. When we can, in humility, consider others around us, especially the amazing women in our lives, better than us, we’re better humans for it. When we can choose to be a servant instead of a tyrant, a supporter instead of a steam roller, a lover with our words instead of an abuser with them, we become what we were created to be—human. In a simple Facebook post to his sons, Derek Steele captured what Trump completely destroyed with his vulgar and despicable behavior: the character and heart of a real man.
Originally published on Babble