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The White House and friends deliver tough talk on sexual consent

Posted by Tom Megginson | 30-04-2014 15:44 | Category: Violence

The White House and friends deliver tough talk on sexual consent

Yes, it’s another PSA with a selection of popular actors delivering a scripted message. But when that message includes the President and Vice President of the United States of America (as well as James Bond) it’s hard not to take notice:


Here is what the campaign landing page, “1 is 2 Many,” has to say:

Despite the significant progress made in reducing violence against women, there is still a long way to go. Young women still face the highest rates of dating violence and sexual assault. In the last year, one in 10 teens have reported being physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend. One in five young women have been sexually assaulted while they’re in college. While men compromise a smaller number of survivors, male survivors are no less important.

In response to these alarming statistics, Vice President Biden is focusing his longstanding commitment to reducing violence against women specifically on teens, students, and young women ages 16-24. The Vice President pushed for the inclusion of vulnerable groups in the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, and he remains committed to supporting all survivors.

Vice President Biden also joined President Obama when he created the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, co-chaired by the Office of the Vice President and the Council of Women and Girls. The Task Force is releasing a new initiative, Not Alone, which provides resources to students, advocates, and universities. By targeting the importance of changing attitudes that lead to violence and educating the public on the realities of abuse, the Vice President is leading the way in an effort to stop this violence before it begins.

In addition to current James Bond actor Daniel Craig, the spot includes Benicio Del Toro, Dulé Hill, Seth Meyers and Steve Carell — all heavyweights in Hollywood. (The Democrats always seem to have an easy time recruiting allies from there!)

Here is what they want you to do:

Support all survivors regardless of their gender or identity. Listen to their stories without judging or blaming. Offer to go with them to seek resources and services if they want them.

Speak up if you hear comments that promote violence against women. Be aware of language that you use that degrades women and survivors of other identities. Don’t be afraid to be an active bystander and intervene if you believe violence is occurring and it is safe for you to do so.

Be a role model for healthy relationships. Always treat others with respect and expect the same from others. Mentor and teach younger people to also act as role models.

Join an organization that is working to end dating violence and sexual assault. Don’t have one in your community? Start one!

The White House (Office of The President of The United States)
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Comments about The White House and friends deliver tough talk on sexual consent

The absence of women was obviously a conscious decision in this ad… Why? Because they won’t be listened to? Isn’t that the problem they’re trying to address with this ad?

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that these men are all talking about consent, and it’s an important issue for men to talk about, but that doesn’t mean that the women’s voice should just be avoided.

Posted by Tess | 30-04-2014 20:06

Comments about The White House and friends deliver tough talk on sexual consent

I love this campaign and I would love to do something like this on our local level, here in Detroit.  I am the Director of the Detroit Police Victim Assistance Program and I would like to involve our Mayor, Chief of Police and other local political, business and police employees in this effort to spread the work regarding our refusal to accept violence against women.  Any suggestions?

Posted by JoAnn Cooper-Reid | 30-04-2014 21:38

Comments about The White House and friends deliver tough talk on sexual consent

Tess: Thanks for commenting! (And yes, she’s a relative.) I think you make a good point. It’s a very macho approach, with older men telling younger men that “no means no.” I can see where they were coming from in having men talk to men — as in “it’s your responsibility to respect women and intervene with others” (like “Don’t Be That Guy”) — but I wonder if the specific celebrities and messages will really be effective with Millennials.

JoAnn: I sent you an e-mail.

Posted by Tom Megginson | 30-04-2014 22:19

Comments about The White House and friends deliver tough talk on sexual consent

I feel like the problem is less awareness of what consent is and more a behavioral issue in general… at least for my age group (not necessarily “Millennials” in general).

I’m not a male, so I don’t know exactly what they’re taught about consent and sexual assault, if they’re even formally taught anything. In my experience though, before university, it was always a “girls be careful” rather than a “boys don’t rape” attitude. For instance, in grade 9, the girls learned self-defense in gym class the same week the boys learned wrestling.

In university, however, everyone in first year residence had to undergo a workshop called “rez project” where we had a three hour discussion about consent, sexual assault, and other similar topics. Beforehand, our group had been told the workshop would go faster if everyone actively participated. This meant, whenever the leaders would ask a question, participants would respond with the answer they knew the leaders wanted to hear. Every single person (especially males) knew the “right” answers, and even appeared bored by them.

Obviously just telling guys what consent is does not change everyone’s behavior, since they seem to be able to at least recite what consent is. There’s a deeper problem. Whether it be a learned disrespect for women, lack of discussion in general, or something else.

Although, I am coming from McGill, the only place in all of Quebec to offer a sexual assault line for male victims (as well as obviously having one for females), and a very politically active insitution. Other places might have men who are less educated about sexual assault, where telling them the statements in this ad would still be helpful.

Posted by Tess | 30-04-2014 23:33

Comments about The White House and friends deliver tough talk on sexual consent

You should do what I do, Tess!

Posted by Tom Megginson | 1-05-2014 01:49

My comment


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