Joe Biden calls men who don't stop sexual assaults "cowards"

Joe Biden calls men who don't stop sexual assaults "cowards"
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden has strong words for men who don't help end sexual assault. 

As part of his anti-sexual-assault campaign, "It's on Us," Biden recently released a text messaged-themed PSA tackling rape culture, and in a recent interview with Teen Vogue, he had frank words for bystanders who don't intervene on behalf of potential sexual assault victims. 

"Bystanders who see something happen, in my view, if they don't holler, scream, pick up the phone and call and intervene, they are complicitous in the commission of a crime. They are complicitous.
Look, if you see a brother taking a drunk freshman co-ed up the stairs to his room and you do nothing, you're a coward. You are a coward. You have an obligation to step up. You know that she's not able to give consent. And so, I went on campuses, we put together this program, and more than 400,000 people have signed the pledge to intervene. That's how you change attitudes — get a critical mass of people beginning to speak out so that the attacker or the bystander is the pariah, not the woman being assaulted, whether she's drunk or sober." 

In the interview, Biden also helped define affirmative consent. While most people have heard the phrase "No means no," states like California have moved to an affirmative consent model of "yes means yes." 

Former Vice President Joe Biden
Source: Patrick Semansky/AP

"If a young woman is drunk, she cannot consent," he said. "She cannot consent, and it's rape. It's rape. It's rape. It's rape. I wanted them to see because it's clear what the subtext is. It's not OK. It's not OK unless she can affirmatively consent."

Biden also spoke to Teen Vogue about rape culture, which he called a "fundamentally cultural problem." 

"There are a lot of young men who come up because of that culture that they were raised in and think they have to be tough guys," he said. "They think, if you go to kiss her and she doesn't want to kiss you, pull her tight and kiss her anyway."

Biden has made a career of trying to stop sexual assault. Aside from dedicating his private life as a citizen to bring men to the table on the issue, he also drafted the Violence Against Women Act in 1994 while a U.S. senator.