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

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.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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And they were. One employee frankly told him his entry-level salary was a rip-off. Another employee had secretly been working at McDonald's outside of work hours to make ends meet. So Price decided to make a drastic change by investing in his employees.

He researched how much money the average person would need in order to live comfortably and settled on $70,000 a year. In one fell swoop, he dropped his own salary to that amount, while also making it the minimum salary for anyone who worked at Gravity.

The move drew media coverage—and dire predictions from pundits. On Fox News and other conservative outlets he was called "foolish," a "socialist" and a "lunatic of lunatics." Rush Limbaugh called the company policy "pure unadulterated socialism" that was "going to fail" and should be a case study in MBA programs on how socialism doesn't work. Talking heads predicted that his employees would end up in the welfare line.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less