Tasked with coming up with new programs to address campus sexual assaults, Vice President Joe Biden held a “listening session” with student advocates, survivors and educators next to the White House yesterday.
Reporters were only allowed to stay for Biden’s remarks at the meeting, which was also attended by Valerie Jarrett. The White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault has until April to arrive at a set of recommendations.
Biden brought up his 1994 Violence Against Women Act, saying it was helping change the culture of viewing women as “chattels.”
“You know, when we wrote the Violence Against Women Act initially, it was very controversial, because I forthrightly said, well, one of my objections, will it change the culture, change the culture in this country about — about women,” Biden told the group. “You know, we’ve spent — we have a long history of culture that has basically, in many cases, equated women with being chattels, that they’re somehow owned, ‘my woman,’ ‘my wife,’ ‘my’ — as if they’re some possessive rights. And we’ve gone a long way in the national Violence Against Women Act and began to change that culture.”
The vice president said he was discourage “to realize that violence against women between the ages of 14 and 24 has actually gone up. You would’ve thought, I thought anyway, that this would ripple down, and it would have the same effect throughout the populations, but it hasn’t.”
“And the most important thing from my perspective, but I really want to hear your view — and I admit that I’m a little passionate about this, but, you know, I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times, no matter what a woman is wearing, no matter where she is, if she’s in a bar, in a dorm room, on a date, drunk or sober, no means no means no whenever it is uttered. And if it’s unable to be uttered because the inability to get consent just does not exist, still no. It’s a crime. It’s a simple, straightforward crime,” he continued.
“And we need to make it clear that everyone — everyone — has a responsibility here, especially men. And that means not looking the other way, that means seeing someone in trouble and helping, it means intervening, it means speaking out. And from my perspective, and I sometimes am criticized for this, I would argue that the real measure of a man’s manhood is whether or not they are willing to intervene, whether or not they are determined to be part of the solution. Looking the other way is wrong, simply wrong. And when you see someone in trouble, a man has an obligation to intervene, to help, to speak out.”