Refinery29 sat in on a conference call with Biden on Wednesday afternoon, during which he emphasized that now, more than ever, is the time to act when it comes to assault.
Biden, who introduced the Violence Against Women Act in 1990, said it was a great source of pride of his when domestic violence rates in the U.S. began to fall after the legislation was enacted. But perhaps the most disappointing news he received as an elected official, he said, was that rates of violence on campus hadn't changed much for young women. Sexual assault statistics for women on college campuses are still unacceptably high — and as he said, it's even worse for transgender women.
That's why there's still work to be done. Not only do we need to get men involved, it's also on all of us to step up and do our part, to intervene, and to take action.
"It's on the Chrises and the Joes and the Kyles, everyone on campus, everyone in the country who sees this violence occurring has an obligation to intervene," he said. "If you do not intervene, you are an accessory. If you do not intervene, you are sanctioning what happens."
Biden, who launched the It's On Us campaign in 2014 alongside then-President Barack Obama to end campus sexual assault, said that he was stunned by the questions people asked of women who said they'd been assaulted.
"Were you drinking? Did you have on a bra? What were you wearing?" he recalled hearing. "That is totally thoroughly completely irrelevant. No man has a right to raise his hand to a woman for any reason other than self defense."
That's not to say that we haven't moved forward — Biden also cited Mercedes-Benz and other advertisers' decisions to take their ads off The O'Reilly Show over a sexual harassment scandal as a sign of progress — but we can't let it stop there.
"I won't go into names, but can you imagine, Mercedes-Benz and other major sponsors pulling sponsorship from a major program because they don't want to be associated with the person on the program because of matters relating to this [sexual assault] issue?" he said.
Still, he said, though there might always be violence, we need to keep working — and we won't have victory until our culture changes the way it views sexual assault.
"You are the most involved generation in American history," he said. "You are the most tolerant generation in American history. And you are the most generous."
So what can you do?
"Host a pledge drive for sexual assault awareness," he said. "Plan an event with your school administration to highlight support for survivors on your campus. Demand of your school, demand your administration to have a mechanism to greet with open arms women who have been assaulted or assert that they’ve been assaulted."
After all, he said, "I might not be Vice President anymore, but I have a voice, you have a voice. And we created a platform, and we must keep moving.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).