Joe Biden hadn't considered this point about rape, and he sure felt 'stupid.'

"No means no."

In typical Joe Biden fashion, the vice president didn't hold back when discussing sexual assault at the University of Pittsburgh.

But his impassioned speech in front of nearly 1,000 students on April 5, 2016, was especially candid — even by Biden's standards.

Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.


The vice president, who has championed the issue for decades, hit on several key aspects while dissecting the problem of sexual assault — a quiet crisis that's affecting nearly 1 in 5 college womenHe also revealed how "stupid" he'd felt years ago after failing to recognize a key component in preventing the crime.

Here are three vital points Biden discussed on Tuesday:

1. Our legal system still blames the victims, and that's inexcusable.

“The legal system and the court of public opinion still allowed prosecutors to ask victims of rape, 'What were you wearing?’ ... This is not a joke. This is deadly freakin’ earnest, man. What difference does it make what a woman was wearing? ... No one, particularly a court of law, has the right to ask any of those questions."

GIF via The Guardian.

Alcohol and short skirts don't cause rape. Rapists do. Yet court judges have been known to still focus on irrelevant factors that imply victims were either "asking for it" or unwise enough to put themselves in dangerous scenarios. 

These arguments miss the point entirely and add weight to the idea that victims are partly responsible for their assaults. Rapists are the sole cause of rape — end of story.

2. We need to stop asking "Why didn’t you just leave?" and focus on supporting victims and survivors instead.

“Do you know the question I most often got [when I was trying to pass the Violence Against Women Act]? ‘Why didn’t she just leave?’ ‘Why didn’t she say something?’ … Imagine the courage it takes for a woman locked in the worst prison in the world, her own home, to be able to pick up the phone and call. Think of the courage it takes to say, ‘help me.’”

GIF via Now This News.

Leaving an abusive partner isn't as simple as walking out the door.

Many victims fear for their lives if they leave. They fear what will happen to their children or other family members. They're ashamed and afraid of how they'll be perceived. And the psychological effects abuse can have can keep a victim from believing he or she deserves better. 

Leaving an abusive partner and asking for help is rarely easy and almost never as simple as it sounds.

3. It's absolutely necessary that men stand up against sexual assault too — something that wasn't always obvious to Biden.

“You know what stunned me? It made me feel stupid [that] I didn’t figure it out before. The overwhelming response we got back from young girls and women was 'Get men involved.'"

GIF via Now This News.

The overwhelming majority of sexual assault perpetrators are male. So why don't we demand more men understand this issue and fight to prevent it? 

Biden teamed up with "Orange Is the New Black" and "How to Get Away With Murder" star Matt McGorry to drive this point home in Pittsburgh. The actor also spoke out about how men can be doing more to end this culture.

“How can we, as men, create a culture around consent and supporting survivors?” McGorry, an avid supporter of the White House's anti-rape initiative It's On Us, asked students on Tuesday. 

Biden's inspiring speech won't cause change on its own. It takes all of us working together to make that change happen.

Promise not to be a bystander if you witness sexual assault by taking the It's On Us pledge. You can learn more about the issue and how we can promote positive change. And if you or someone you know is a victim of sexual assault, you can find help.

Watch highlights from Biden's speech in Pittsburgh below.

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"They made enormous sacrifices to pick a town with great public schools and really push us to excel the whole way," Bhatia says. "They really believed in us, but they expected excellence. The story I like to tell about my dad is like, if you brought home a 96 on a math test, the response would be, 'What'd you get wrong?'"

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Someday, future Americans will look back on this era of school shootings in bafflement and disbelief—not only over the fact that it happened, but over how long it took us to enact significant legislation to try to stop it.

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Don't test on animals. That's something we can all agree on, right? No one likes to think of defenseless cats, dogs, hamsters, and birds being exposed to a bunch of things that could make them sick (and the animals aren't happy about it, either). It's no wonder so many people and organizations have fought to stop it. But did you ever think that maybe brands are testing products on us too, they're just not telling us they're doing it?

I know, I know, it sounds like a conspiracy theory, but that's exactly what e-cigarette brands like JUUL (which corners the e-cigarette market) are doing in this country right now, and young people are on the frontlines of the fallout. Most people assume that the government would have looked at devices that allow people to inhale unknown chemicals into their lungs BEFORE they hit the market. You would think that someone in the government would have determined that they are safe. But nope, that hasn't happened. And vape companies are fighting to delay the government's ability to evaluate these products.

So no one really knows the long-term health effects of e-cigarette use, not even JUUL's CEO, nor are they informing the public about the potential risks. On top of that, according to the FDA, there's been a 78% increase in e-cigarette usage among high school and middle school-aged children in just the last two years, prompting the U.S. Surgeon General to officially recognize the trend as an epidemic and urge action against it.

These facts have elicited others to take action, as well.

Truth Initiative, the nonprofit best known for dropping the real facts about smoking and vaping since 2000 through its truth campaign, is now on a mission to confront e-cigarette brands like JUUL about the lack of care they've taken to inform consumers of the potential adverse side effects of their products. And they're doing it with the help of animal protesters who are tired of seeing humans treated like test subjects.

The March Against JUUL | Tested On Humans | truth www.youtube.com

"No one knows the long-term effects of JUULing so any human who uses one is being used as a lab rat," says, appropriately, Mario the Sewer Rat.

"I will never stop fighting JUUL. Or the mailman," notes Doug the Pug, the Instagram-famous dog star.

Truth, the national counter-marketing campaign for youth smoking prevention, hopes this fuzzy, squeaky, snorty animal movement arms humans with the facts about vaping and inspires them to demand transparency from JUUL and other e-cigarette companies. You can get your own fur babies involved too by sharing photos of them wearing protest gear with the hashtag #DontTestOnHumans. Here's some adorable inspo for you:

The dangerous stuff is already out there, but with knowledge on their side, young people will hopefully make the right choices and fight companies making the wrong ones. If you need more convincing, here are the serious facts.

Over the last decade, 127 e-cigarette-related seizures were reported, which prompted the FDA to launch an official investigation in April 2019. Since then, over 215 cases of a new, severe lung illness have sprung up all over the country, with six deaths to date. While scientists aren't yet sure of the root cause, the majority of victims were young adults who regularly vaped and used e-cigarettes. As such, the CDC has launched an official investigation into the potential link.

Sixteen-year-old Luka Kinard, a former frequent e-cigarette-user, is one of the many teens who experienced severe side effects. "Vaping was my biggest addiction," he told NowThis. "It lasted for about 15 months of my high school career." In 2018, Kinard was hospitalized after having a seizure. He also had severe nausea, chest pains, and difficulty breathing.

After the harrowing experience, he quit vaping, and began speaking out about his experience to help inform others and hopefully inspire them to quit and/or take action. "It shouldn't take having a seizure as a result of nicotine addiction like I had for teens to realize that these companies are taking advantage of what we don't know," Kinard said.

Teens are 16 times more likely to use e-cigarettes than adults, and four times more likely to take up traditional smoking as a result, according to truth, and yet the e-cigarette market remains virtually unregulated and untested. In fact, companies like JUUL continue to block and prevent FDA regulations, investing more than $1 million in lawyers and lobbying efforts in the last quarter alone.

Photo by Lindsay Fox/Pixabay

Consumers have a right to know what they're putting in their bodies. If everyone (and their pets) speaks up, the e-cigarette industry will have to make a change. Young people are already taking action across the country. They're hosting rallies nationwide and on October 9 as part of a National Day of Action, young people are urging their friends and classmates to "Ditch JUUL." Will you join them?

For help with quitting e-cigarettes, visit thetruth.com/quit or text DITCHJUUL to 88709 for free, anonymous resources.

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