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Joe Biden to Men: If You Do Nothing to Stop Rape, You’re an Accomplice

June 14, 2016, 6:03 PM UTC
The White House Council On Women And Girls Hosts The "United State Of Women" Summit In D.C.
Photograph by Alex Wong—Getty Images

Joe Biden believes sexual assault is not just a women’s issue.

Kicking off a plenary on violence against women at the White House’s United State of Women summit on Tuesday morning, the U.S. Vice President urged the audience to “get men involved!”

Men, he said, can be potential change agents of what he referred to as America’s “rape culture”:

You guys in the audience, we’ve got to overcome this social discomfort of calling out the misogyny that happens when no women are present: the locker room talk, the bar banter, the rape jokes. As a man, maybe it makes you uncomfortable, but if you let it pass because you wanna become of the one guys, you become an accomplice.


Biden, who first introduced the Violence Against Women Act in 1990 while a Delaware senator, called this work “literally the cause of [his] life.” While the bill passed in 1994, it will be up for reauthorization in 2018, and he asked the Washington D.C. audience for their support.

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Still, said Biden, legislation is not enough; “It’s about changing our culture.”

Last week, the VP penned a letter to the victim of the Stanford sexual assault case, in which he described what needs to change:

You were failed by a culture on our college campuses where one in five women is sexually assaulted—year after year after year. A culture that promotes passivity. That encourages young men and women on campuses to simply turn a blind eye.