Joe Biden On Domestic Violence: "We Can Change This Culture"
Vice President Joe Biden found himself in the political dog house after making not one, but two faux pas in stump speeches this week. But Biden redeemed himself by Friday, tightening his platform on domestic violence in what is no doubt an appeal to female voters. While speaking at the Democratic National Committee's women's leadership forum in Denver, Biden denounced domestic violence and rape culture, urging the American public — particularly men — that it's up to us to "change this culture." We may have just forgiven you, Biden.
In his address, Biden brought up a number of recent controversies, including the abuse cases of NFL players and the on-going federal investigation into the sexual assault policies of more than 50 U.S. colleges. The vice president acknowledged that victim-blaming, which has become so ingrained in our culture, needs to be eradicated to end violence against women:
We will have won when every young woman in America knows it's never appropriate to ask, 'What did I do?'
Biden also took this opportunity to make a plea to young men, emphasizing that they have a responsibility to prevent violence and dissolve rape culture:
Men ... have to understand you have an obligation to intervene when you see violence take place. That's manhood. That's being a man. You are a coward if you do not stop him, speak to him. ... Without consent, no man has a right to touch a woman. We can change this culture.
According to The Denver Post, Biden was invited to the roundtable on domestic violence by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, whose sister was a victim of domestic violence. The event also coincided with the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a law that Biden famously drafted when he was a U.S. senator.
The roundtable came just as the White House launched its latest campaign, "It's On Us." The anti-sexual assault initiative will focus on college campuses, with an emphasis on encouraging young men to join the fight against rape culture.
Knowing Biden's history with VAWA, it's not surprising that he would deliver such an impassioned speech on domestic violence. This has been part of his plank for the last 20 years, and he has taken his advocacy all the way to the Obama administration with the appointment of the first ever White House Advisor on Violence Against Women. In 2011, Biden launched the 1is2many campaign, with the goal of reducing dating violence and sexual assault among teen girls and young women.
Still, Biden continues to make the news for a reason that is either depressing or hopeful, depending on your general outlook on life: No other contemporary male politician has been so forthright about ending sexual and physical violence against women than Biden. This is why Biden is celebrated, even for all the malarkey surrounding his verbal gaffes, but the plaudits he receives can come at the expense of the very culture he's trying to shape. We applaud Biden not for being the proverbial "good man," but for doing what's right. After all, do men really need a medal — or a monument — every time they say they're against sexual violence?
One day, I would like for Biden's anti-violence against women advocacy to not be a news story. In the meantime, I think it's safe to say you've redeemed yourself, Joe.
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