On Oct. 8, audio leaked and published by The Washington Post revealed Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump describing, celebrating, and admitting to "grabbing" women without their consent to former Access Hollywood host Billy Bush in 2005. The backlash has been (rightfully) relentless and everyone from would-be voters, to politicians, to parents have weighed in on him comments. In the midst of my own disgust and outrage, I looked for "the good." I looked for those opposing rape culture and supporting victims. I looked for fathers responding to Trump's comments about women, desperate to hear that those half-responsible (and sometimes completely responsible) for raising the next generation were as upset about the prospect of a United States president so casually talking about — and even bragging about — sexual assault, as I was. I looked for the people who didn't view Trump's comments as "normal" or "locker-room talk," but who saw them for what they truly were: sexual assault and perpetuated rape culture.
As a mother and a sexual assault survivor, I could go on and on about Trump and how he speaks about (and to) women. However, and to be honest, I am tired. I am tired of trying to explain and teach consent to grown-ass adults who truly believe what Trump described in 2005 as normal, every-day conversations men have with other men. I'm tired of women having to constantly reach into their past, pick the scabs of assault and abuse, and bravely share their stories over and over again, only to have people tell them they're "wrong," that they're being "dramatic," or that they're doing it "for attention." I'm tired of the burden of proof falling on victims. I'm just, well, tired.
So, Romper asked fathers raising both sons and daughters to weigh in on Trump's latest comments. After all, the responsibilities of parenthood do not just fall on women, and there are countless men — either co-parenting with their parenting partners or raising their children as single fathers — who are working tirelessly to teach their children to be respectful of others, know and understand consent, and speak up when they hear or see something inappropriate, dangerous or illegal, happening. Here are what 10 fathers had to say, and how they're trying to fight against the very message Trump has been continuously and defiantly sending the next generation.
"I have a 14-year-old daughter and a two-year-old son. Im very uncomfortable with these comments as to how it pertains to men like Trump and how they view her and how I counter these views for my son as he grows up to ensure anytime someone talks like that, he be the child/boy/man that always stands up against that kind of talk when everyone else is sitting down ignoring it."
"I have a 4-year old-son, and living in Ohio where we see political commercials about as often as we blink has made him curious why he sees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump so often. While he doesn't understand the political process, he does understand bad words and words that are bleeped out on TV.
It has been interesting discussing to him what has been said, but also the concern I would have explaining to him what would happen if Donald Trump were to ever be president. I have always believed, whole heartedly, that your character is what you say behind closed doors. I strive to teach my kids this as they grow up, and to have someone throw around phrases as 'just words' or 'locker room talk' is overly concerning. If we can't believe what someone says, how can believe anything that they do?
I've been in locker rooms throughout my life as an athlete in high school or at the gym, and I can assure you that nothing even close to this is discussed. I believe in saying what you mean, and doing what you say. I will always teach my kids this, and I find it completely disheartening that we have an individual so close to being the leader of the free world that does not do these things."
"Trump's statements about women, while sickening and appalling, did not shock me. Rape culture is something I am all too aware of and think about a lot, particularly in regard to raising my son. I honestly feel I was more taken aback by Billy Bush. Because while Trump's overt entitlement and misogyny are horrifying, Bush's actions on the tape highlighted something I think may be even more insidious. Because there are men like Trump, who feel like they can grab women by the p*ssy because they're famous, and there are men like Bush, who are encouraging men like to Trump to do it. They encourage with their laughter and their silence. They encourage them by using the objectification of women as a kind of bonding experience. I think a lot about raising my son not to be a Trump—I think a lot of us do. But I think it's just as important to raise him not to be a Billy Bush."
"I can't really give Trump a hard time for objectifying women. I've made more than my share of comments about a woman's body or appearance to my buddies. Although, this isn't behavior that I'm proud of, it's also not the same as what Trump expressed. It isn't 'locker room' talk to talk about doing things to women's bodies without their permission.
As a father of a 2-year-old son, there will be times that I won't be there to give advice about mistakes I have made, but you can be sure he'll know that another person's body isn't his to do with as he wishes. Allowing a man like Trump to become president sets a dangerous precedent that what you say doesn't matter and that you can even be rewarded for it. It's counterproductive to raising accountable sons to have that man representing not only our country, but also our men and our culture in this country. We can't talk out of both sides of our mouths about how terrible millennials are, and also cast our vote for a man that is a terrible role model for the future of our nation."
"Being a father now has made that so much more apparent in my life. The way I act around my son is incredibly important. My son's eyes are constantly watching every single thing I do, and he hears everything as well. Up until a certain age, he'll have no idea how come up with his own thoughts, and actions. He will mimic everything I say, and do. Words will lead to thoughts. Those thoughts will lead him to act on those thoughts. His mind will be shaped and molded by the world he is surrounded by.
I've never felt comfortable around locker room talk, and most men have heard whether they care to admit or not. I was raised by an incredibly kind, and amazing generous mother who do anything for her family. I married my wife who I feel has the same qualities. When my son was born, I told my wife that she was my superhero. I have never seen strength, power, and beauty like I saw the day my wife gave birth to our son. I want to instill that view in my son for his mother, and for all women.
The only thing I can control is how my son will be raised, and how his view on women will not reflect that of poorly raised man."
"'I did try and f*ck her. She was married.' 'Just a kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.' These are quotes from the Republican candidate running for president. Let that sink in really quick.
Now, I picture these quotes being said to me from the principle from my kid’s school. Not only is my kid in trouble in school, I have let down being a leader and a father. My son than tells me, “this was locker room banter."
There are enough influences out in the world, state, county, city, and school. We can’t afford having a person in power saying these things. What he did was not illegal, but morally wrong and continues to cross that line. My son will not look up to or put faith in someone with such a sexiest mindset.
My son will see right from wrong. Trump will be an example of what will not be accepted in our house hold."
"As a father of a 4-year-old boy, I am disgusted by the failures of other fathers sometimes... We teach our son to love everyone, and to respect their personal spaces; to live by the golden rule. We have taken the time to educate him on how it's not okay to touch people without their permission. It helps having a child with such a big heart, as we can ask him how he would feel if someone did that to him. He shares with his friends and family, and he knows that he is no better or no worse than any of them. That's why I am concerned about the behavior of Donald Trump. The presidency is more than just a beauty pageant, it is an example we tell our children to aspire to. Is this really the example we want to set for our kids? Do we want to point to that repugnant example of a human being and tell our sons 'You could be just like him one day?' No, instead I will continue to teach my children the intrinsic dignity that all people deserve.
My son recently saw Donald on a debate- and when Mr. Trump was addressed by the moderator, my son said "No. Not Donald Trump- Donald Duck!" Maybe he's right. Maybe we would be suited better with Donald Duck running for president. At least Donald didn't go around sexually assaulting Daisy Duck and Minnie Mouse."
"For me, the worst part of the comments has been listening to him and his supporters explain them off as a joke or as the ever-redundant 'locker room talk.' The fact that so many people — people with children — can justify the type of rhetoric that embraces sexual assault and dismisses a woman's right to sexual consent absolutely disgusts me. It also scares me as a father.
I don't want my little girl to grow up in a Trumpian nation where disrespecting and assaulting women is accepted and justified as the new norm or as 'boyish shenanigans' more than it already is. If I ever have any sons, teaching them to be respectful toward women will always be a main priority. But how much harder will it be if the leader of our country and his supporters think that women are just objects to grab when they please? Is that the example I want set for my future sons or the precedent I want set for my daughter? No. I want a future where my daughter and all women are treated with the respect they deserve, and that is a future without Donald Trump as president."
"When I listened to the tape of the Donald Trump and Billy Bush conversation, I was certain that it was an edited piece that some over zealous Democrat put together to discredit the Donald.
Later, I was surprised to learn that it was unadulterated. The language was so immature and colorful that I was embarrassed to listen to it with my lady friend in the room. Lots of us were involved in or listened to this kind of talk when we walking home from school, hoping that when we grew up puberty would hit and lots of wonderful things would happen when we became adults. I never ever used that kind of language personally, as I was told by my sister to be careful of the way I talked because someday someone might decide that they could talk that way about one of my sisters and I wouldn't like it. That warning has stuck with me, and I shared the same knowledge with my son as he grew up. I believe there is no appropriate time or place for that kind of talk. Maybe it's time to make America respectful again."
"Ten months ago I became a first time father to an adorable and healthy daughter. [One] evening, while her and her mother slept that I forever became a new and better person. It began with a period of self reflection, "who was I?" I know most parents can identify with the increased responsibilities and sacrifice and change that affects first time parents. However, along with those, having a daughter brought to me new insight and emotions.
Having been a college athlete and part of the 'it' crowd, you become a bit of an asshole. Shamefully, just like 99 percent of the male population, I was admired and congratulated for my sexual conquests. Women were treated amongst my peers as numbers and not human beings, connecting to their emotions for physical gain and for sheer acceptance from others whom I considered at the time to be my "friends" was how I approached my interaction with the opposite sex, not caring about the feelings or destruction I caused in my path.
What I decided for myself once I met my daughter is that I needed to be a role model and make sure she finds a man of character unlike myself or my peers during my adolescence. I needed to show her through my actions going forward, her value, her importance, and the opportunities available in her life, through endless love and compassion. I decided in that moment I'd never let it be acceptable to speak about women in derogatory terms in my presence, I'd never again ignore the emotions, intelligence, and happiness of a women for my own physical gain, my daughter would always come first and that physical activity would come last on the list with of priorities with the female population.
Until last week based purely on economics and policy my allegiance still sided with the Red Squad. That was until the comments regarding women made by Donald trump were made. The fact that it was glossed over as 'locker room speak' or 'boys will be boys banter' was incredibly inexcusable by the American public and Trump.
Every woman has a father, and an endorsement of Donald trump after his remarks is an endorsement of modern day rape culture. My daughter could be the next victim of a Brock Turner situation, or other sexual assaults or indiscretions. Voting for Trump is basically saying that behavior and sentiment towards women will continue to be OK. I know undoubtedly my daughter at some point will face some sort of derogatory comments and sexual harassment in her lifetime and that I can't always protect her. But I do know through my actions and affection I can teach her her worth and value and show her what is not OK. And that will start this November when, for the first time as a Republican, I do not vote for the Republican candidate."
Additional reporting by Leah Rocketto.