Former Vice President Joe Biden visited George Mason University on Wednesday to deliver a speech on sexual assault prevention.
The event was hosted by the Obama administration’s social movement for awareness of sexual assault, It’s On Us. It was livestreamed on George Mason’s website and featured actress Alisha Boe and producer of TV series 13 Reasons Why Joy Gorman. For his part, Biden explained his drive for social justice was inspired by his father.
“Everybody thinks that maybe my mom or sister was abused, thank God to the best of my knowledge that was not the fact,” he said. “But my dad used to say the greatest sin a man or woman could commit was the abuse of power… The one thing he could not stand is the notion of the abuse of a woman.”
Biden emphasized the duty everyone has in stepping up and intervening.
“Both men and women have an obligation to help survivors in any way they can,” he said. “Rape and sexual assault are not about sex. They’re about power.”
He also explained that, statistically, female college survivors are likely to confide in their roommate or friend about their experience. Unfortunately, statistics also show that often no help is sought beyond that.
“Consent requires affirmative consent,” Biden stressed. He also said our society will be judged in the future by our “decency.” We will be remembered by how we dealt with the issue.
“There is never a culture of justification for any of this. Brutality is brutality. Human rights are basic. I don’t care what’s your religion—no religion, no culture can be sustained or should be tolerated that says it’s OK to abuse another human being.”
Biden said it is the responsibility of young men to change the culture of sexual violence on college campuses.
Boe spoke of how her character’s rape in 13 Reasons Why has influenced her understanding of the psychological trauma that follows surviving such a hideous crime.
“We want the survivors in the room today to know that your voice matters, your story is important and your truth is real,” Boe said. “You are never, ever, ever alone.”
H/T Huffington Post