After releasing a depressing but unsurprising report that 1 in 5 female college students are sexually assaulted, the White House posted a PSA on its YouTube account starring President Obama and VP Biden alongside Hollywood A-listers like Daniel Craig, Benicio Del Toro, Dule Hill, Seth Meyers and Steve Carell as part of its 1 is 2 Many campaign.
The best part of the PSA is its attempt to change the conversation around sexual assault against women by making prevention men’s responsibility too. The video defines rape pretty matter-of-factly for the post-Steubenville era: “If she doesn’t consent, or if she can’t consent, it’s rape. It’s assault. It’s a crime. It’s wrong.”
The PSA then argues that the moral obligation to prevent rape lies with bystanders too: “If I saw it happening, I was taught you have to do something about it. If I saw it happening, I’d speak up. If I saw it happening, I’d never blame her. I’d help her. Because I don’t want to be part of the problem.”
It’s pretty clear that the video is aimed at the next generation of men. Biden said at a recent event, “College[s] and universities can no longer turn a blind eye and pretend rape and sexual assault doesn’t occur on their campuses. I understand that the good guys in the report, they may feel like they’re damaging the reputations of their schools, I get it. But it doesn’t matter.”
I hope they’re showing this video to new military recruits, too.