In the wake of Trump's odious bragging about sexual assault, a number of Trump supporters and Trump himself has insisted that it's just "locker-room talk."

For the record, I have never heard men in private say anything remotely so disrespectful about women, at work or anyplace else.

I was raised by a father who respected women and who would have been appalled at Trump's remarks (and Bill Clinton's behavior, for that matter.)

My father made it clear what he expected of me in the area, expectations that I'm passing along to my own son:

1. Never Hit a Girl

I explained this to my own son after a fight with his sister (they're both pre-teens). Never hit a girl; if she hits you, walk away. This is the kid's version of the inviolable rule that there is no circumstance in which it is appropriate for a man to put his hands on a woman uninvited. This includes fake-friendly shoulder-rubs at work.

2. Stand Up to Bullies

If somebody is bullying you, you must stand up to him. If you don't, the bullying will continue. This is as true in the schoolyard as it is in the boardroom. More important, if you see somebody bullying somebody else, and you're in a position to intervene, do so. If you don't, then you're no better than the bully.

3. Walk Away from Dumb Fights

While conflict is sometimes unavoidable, most of the time it's not. You can stand up to a bully, for instance, simply by calling him out. You don't have to take the bait and get into a fight that you can't win. As you get older, you learn to pick your battles--an essential workplace skill.

4. Don't Hang with Jerks

If your friends and coworkers talk trash, spout bigotry and say foul things, you have two choices: 1) tell them to cut it out (and make it stick) or 2) find a different group of people to hang out with. A man is judged by the company he keeps; if you lie down with pigs and dogs you'll end up covered in s**t and fleas.

5. Never Take Unfair Advantage

The way my father put it was: "only a crumb-bum would take advantage of a drunk woman." Similarly, a boss who hits on an underling is being a jerk. Or a guy who hits on a single mother because she's desperate. It's unfair and unkind to manipulate an imbalance of power to get what you want.

6. Real Men Don't Brag

Never boast about your accomplishments. Be proud but not prideful. If you do something praiseworthy, others will praise you. Don't toot your own horn. Above all, never share information about your sexual experiences. You won't impress anybody and most of them (except the jerks) will think less of you for blabbing.

7. Treat Women with Respect

It's not your job to judge whether this woman or that woman is worthy of your respect. You respect women because you have the self-respect to act correctly. Don't leer. Don't cat-call. Don't use belittling terms, even in private conversations. And don't interrupt women more than men. Open doors for women, literally and figuratively.

Maybe my Dad's advice seems a little old-fashioned, grounded as it is in ideas of chivalry, morality, and "being a gentleman." However, these rules are what I'm teaching my boy and I wish, for everyone's sake, that the fathers of Trump and his minions had done the same.

Published on: Oct 10, 2016
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