Obama is tackling sexual violence—and he gets it

“Our society does not sufficiently value women. We still don’t condemn sexual assault as loudly as we should.”

Obama announced a public service campaign, called “Its On Us” to stop sexual violence on college campuses. This campaign will target both men and women, but will particularly focus on men. As stated by the New York Times, “Mr. Obama called for a “fundamental shift in our culture” in the way women are treated and in the response to victims of sexual assault.” Men will be challenged to step up and see sexual violence as their personal responsibility to prevent.

Do you realize how incredibly rare this is? A sexual violence prevention campaign targeted towards men?

We’ve all seen our share of victim blaming, violence, slut shaming, and worse—and the statistics never seem to get any better. It’s still true that for every five women who enter a college campus expecting to have the notorious ‘best four years of their lives’, one will leave a victim of sexual violence (according to the Department of Justice). And of all violent crimes rape is the least reported with only 11% sharing their story. I believe nothing has changed or improved with regard to violence on campus, because most of the help and education has been focused on women.

When I was a freshman in college, all the freshmen women attended a seminar about sexual violence. We were told how to recognize a predator, never to accept a drink we didn’t see poured, not to walk home alone, and that it was risky to go back to his room if we didn’t intend on having sex. We learned that the men we had to be the most careful around were those that we knew. We were encouraged to carry mace and to speak up if someone didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. We were told it was never our fault if something happened to us, but there were ways to play it safe.

The men didn’t have to attend any seminars.

During the Q+A, I remember a heated discussion starting over the audience that I didn’t fully understand at the time. One brave woman said that telling women how to behave to ‘avoid being raped’ was blaming the victim. She called it rape culture. Another woman challenged her from the back row, saying that while women aren’t at fault, we also “shouldn’t be stupid”.

The brave woman hesitated and then told her story of a high-school acquaintance not understanding the word ‘no’. She insisted that when women are told the right way to behave to avoid sexual assault, they blame themselves if sexual violence touches their lives. She said she blamed herself for what happened. And then she sat down.

Many of us know about blaming ourselves.

There were so many things we could have done differently. We shouldn’t have slept at the party. We should have noticed that he was a ‘bad guy’. We shouldn’t have been so drunk. We should have dressed more modestly. We should have fought back. We should have known what would happen.

I believe that sexual violence is the greatest tragedy we face today. I don’t want to send my daughter to college unless the statistics change. There’s no greater burden than women (and men) living with shame over losing the right to choose. And Obama understands this truth, in conjunction with the famous quote from Edmund Burke:

All it takes for evil to persist is for good men to do nothing.

We have a President who doesn’t think the answer to sexual violence is going around telling women to dress more modestly or be more careful or take self-defense classes. Whether or not we agree with his politics, I think we can all agree this campaign is exactly what is needed on college campuses. I’m praying for courageous men on college campuses around the country to stand up and tackle this tragedy with courage. We need you.

What is your experience with sexual violence on college campuses?

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21 Responses to “Obama is tackling sexual violence—and he gets it”
  1. Greg says:

    That’s great. But why is he also forcing Americans to pay for abortions, let alone promoting the killing of innocent human life in every conceivable way through his administration?

    • marie says:

      Abortions have been legal for decades, long before Obama took office. Since they are legal, they are a medical procedure and should be covered like any other medical procedure. If you want to debate abortion, or what a horrible evil president and man Obama is, find another thread. This one is about rape and holding men accountable for it.

      • Greg says:

        My point is character. Show me a president whose integrity and respect for women is evident in ALL areas of his life and actions (and laws he signs), and I’ll believe you.

        You have to be extremely naive and ignore the facts all around you to believe that Obama has even one of those qualities.

        • marie says:

          I am not an Obama fan, but I’m glad he started this campaign. I do not believe any politician nowadays has any integrity or character… they all suck rocks. And there are many people who believe that keeping abortion legal IS respectful to women. You obviously are not one of them, but millions of others disagree with you.

          • Greg says:

            I’m glad the campaign is underway. It’s needed. But does Obama really care about women, or is he looking for votes among them? The proof is in the pudding. If he really cared, he wouldn’t have spent the last six years of his presidency promoting immorality (and halting prosecution of pornography via his “Justice” department, which certainly does harm women and everyone) throughout our country.

            No, I cannot respect any ‘choice’ that stops a beating heart, and I’m not concerned with how many people do (or don’t) agree with me. I’m concerned with the truth. I also cannot respect a president whose empty words are all-too-frequently exposed by his actions (and inaction-and highly inconsistent at that). And who is such a liar (or totally brainless; pick one) that he claims “ISIS isn’t Islamic.”

    • Girly says:

      That’s a job well done for Obama all victims of sexual violence need all the help they can use. I wish Obama would also deal with the sexual violence against men and women in the army. Male rape has risen to an all time high as we’ll

      • marie says:

        I agree. I saw a documentary about rape in the military. It is shameful that the US gov not only allows rape to go unpunished, but actively tries to cover it up, punishes the rape victims, and even rewards & promotes the rapists. Absolutely unacceptable.

  2. marie says:

    I agree with most of this post and believe men definitely need to be held more accountable for their own actions. I think too many men have a sense of entitlement when it comes to sex and women’s bodies, because our culture tends to promote that type of attitude. However, I don’t think it’s blaming the victim to give women tips on how to watch out for themselves. Statistics show that over half of all women who are date raped had been drinking alcohol, and over 70% of all men who raped had been drinking. So i think it is wise to tell your daughter to not get drunk at a party, not because of some kind of moral stance against alcohol, but because alcohol is a known risk factor in rape attacks. And the same goes for all the other “tips” such as, don’t walk alone at night, park in a well lit area at night, don’t accept a drink from anyone at a party/bar unless you see it poured, etc. I see nothing wrong with making women aware of precautions to help keep them safe. Does that mean if a woman has zero alcohol, always parks in a well lit area, and never goes out at night alone that she will never be at risk for rape? No. But it certainly lowers her risk. And in case anyone misunderstands me — I am NOT saying that if a woman does drink or goes back to someone’s room/apt, or engages in other high risk behavior and is raped that she deserved it. She 100% absolutely did NOT. No one ever deserves to be the victim of a crime, ANY crime. But let’s be honest….sometimes, we DO act stupid. We have to accept responsibility for our actions. Two scenarios — #1: A man goes to a beach that has a sign, “Danger, NO Swimming: Sharks”. He ignores the sign and goes in anyway. He gets attacked by a shark. Scenario #2- A woman’s parents warn her over and over to not get so drunk at a party that she is unaware of her surroundings because there are certain men in the world who might take advantage of her. One night she goes to a party and drinks until she passes out. She wakes up the next day in a strange bed wearing no clothes, and finds evidence that someone had sex with her. In both of these cases both people ignored the warnings given to them and they chose to engage in high risk behavior. They both made a conscious CHOICE to disregard their own safety, and as a result, something bad happened to them. We all know that if the man’s story appeared on the news, most people would think… “what an idiot! Why the heck did he ignore the warning sign?” But if the woman’s story was on the news and we said the same thing, we are now somehow, “blaming the victim”. Is it fair that women have to be so diligent and cautious and constantly be aware of our surroundings? Nope. But life isn’t fair, and it’s just the way it is.

    • Mark says:

      Ever since Cain killed Abel, men have been behaving badly. Unfortunately, the gender has not improved much in 6,000 years. If you are expecting men to become more “enlightened”, then go visit a monastery. Men fear other men, the opinions of their peers, and, women with guns. My suggestion for women is, 1) find an honorable man to protect you (boyfriend or husband), 2) stay out of places where you could get hurt (tactical awareness), and/or, 3) get a gun (armed self-defense). A male predators, like any predator, goes after the easiest prey to hunt. This might not sound fair, but, it is good advice.

      • marie says:

        You certainly don’t think very highly of your own sex. Men aren’t the only ones who behave badly in this world. Good and bad people come in both sexes, and I certainly think there are plenty of good men in the world who think rape is a horrible crime and wouldn’t even consider hurting a woman in that way. For you to imply that the only way a man wont rape is because he fears something is ludicrous. That’s like saying the only reason you don’t rob a bank is because they have armed guards with guns at every entrance. And yes, you are correct…. predators go after the easiest prey….. that’s PREDATORS, not men in general. Not all men are predators.

        • mark henline says:

          How do you tell the predators from the good guys before it is too late? Short answer – you can’t. Good men don’t rape women. Bad men do. The problem is that they don’t wear a sign around their neck saying “I’m a rapist.” Therefore, the only way for women to protect themselves is to take responsibility for their own safety.
          You want to change the world (and men) in order to make it safer for women to be less responsible. The best way for women to be safer in an unsafe world is for women to learn to protect themselves. The solution is personal responsibility and self-defense training.

          • marie says:

            In my very first post I already stated women should take precautions to protect themselves. However, I also wrote that taking precautions doesn’t mean that you will never be a victim, but it certainly lessens your risk. But that is true for every crime victim. Do you lock your car when you go into a store? I’m sure you do. But that doesn’t mean your car will never be broken into and stolen. Saying I want to change the world and men “to make it safer for women to be less responsible” is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard and is also a typical sexist misogynistic attitude. A person, whether male or female, can only control their OWN behavior. And no matter how many precautions a woman might take…. dress in a snow suit and cover every conceivable part of her body so as not to “tempt” men, have a black belt, own a gun…. she STILL could be a victim of rape, just like your car being broken into. You do know that even female police officers and soldiers are raped, right? You do know that women in muslim countries where they are required to cover even their face with only their eyes exposed are still raped, right? You do know that men can also be and have been victims of rape, right? Rape is not a female problem, it’s a human problem. But because MEN are the ones who do most of the raping, that is why Obama started this program to try and educate MEN. Rape is a violent crime of power, not about sex. So it’s not only about trying to teach women to protect themselves or teaching women that it is up to us to prevent and to take responsibility for someone else’s choices and behavior. We’ve been taught that for centuries and it’s not working. It’s about trying to change MALE attitudes in general, which you seem to possess, that rape happens because women act like sluts and tempt men, and therefore we deserve it and it’s our fault if it happens.

  3. karen says:

    I recently saw several sources that say it is up to men to stop the violence they incur on women. There was a TED talk and a Patrick Stewart speech . I am intrigued by that approach of teaching men how to behave and other men holding them accountable.
    Perhaps this will help. I hope so. But I’m not sure that clip is enough. Maybe a start.

  4. Leslie says:

    Whether or not we agree with a woman’s RIGHT TO CHOOSE to not give birth is not relevant. Why would you feel that you have the right to dictate another person’s life? Our President defends the rights of all of us. I have been raped and cannot even imagine the hell involved having to give birth to that monster’s child. And no, I didn’t “deserve” it.

  5. Mark says:

    Have you seen the new JLo “Booty” video? That one is really going to help men reform their behavior. We constantly bombard men with sexual messages in ads, movies, TV programs, and music videos; and then except them to act like saints? Our society caters to a man’s basest instinct and then expects them to behave responsibly? How about calling out Hollywood and the music industry for promoting the “sexualization” of women. And, I haven’t seen any ugly NFL football cheerleaders lately, except of course, for the ones at the Titans games.

    • marie says:

      What does JLO’s video and cheerleaders have to do with rape? Your thought process is so far off base, and it’s the same old typical misogynistic “she was asking for it” attitude that has been prevalent for years in our society. I hate to break it to you Mark, but women love sex just as much as men do, so to say our society caters to a man’s basest instinct is ridiculous. Sex doesn’t just sell to men… it sells, period. It’s not up to women to “behave” a certain way in order to get men to act responsibly and not commit a violent crime, which is what rape IS. That’s like saying since tv commercials constantly shove the iPhone 6 down our throats, telling us it’s the newest thing and we all HAVE to have one, so if you decide to go rob a store and steal one… oh well, guess it’s the media’s fault for catering to your base desire of greed. Or when we see a news story of how a person was cheating on their spouse and he/she convinces their lover to kill their wife/husband. Do we not hold the murderer accountable because someone told them to do it? Yes we do. So YES, men are EXPECTED to NOT break the law and to be responsible for their OWN behavior, just as they would be expected to not rob a bank or break a traffic law or murder someone…. or else they will suffer the consequences which would be jail time.

      • mark henline says:

        Your expectations of men are too high. And, the last time I checked, there were over 2 million men in prison in this country. If punishing men for their sins or their crimes worked, why is the repeat offender rate in this country so high?
        You seem to want men to change. Good luck! It is not going to happen. Not through legislation, preaching, teaching or nagging. It has been tried for 6,000 years and it doesn’t work.
        What works is armed women standing up to predators and making them fear for their lives. Women need to learn to take personal responsibility for their own safety. Even if they are married to a great guy (like my wife is), I can’t be there 24 hours a day to protect her. I bought her a gun, took her to a firearms safety class and paid for her concealed carry permit. She is now just as dangerous (and well armed) as me.
        Do you really expect criminals to follow the law? If a man hurts a woman, he is a criminal. If he gets away with it, and does it again, he is simply repeating the same poor behavior as before. If a woman shoots him the next time he tries to hurt her, he probably won’t do it again.
        Idealism is a dream. Reality says that an armed society is a polite society.

        • marie says:

          Dude, your entire attitude is wrong and it’s the exact reason why this is still such an issue. Criminals aren’t going to follow the law? Really? Wow, thanks for educating me. No sh*t sherlock. And THAT is the point. No matter how many precautions you teach a woman to take, she STILL COULD END UP A VICTIM. In your world, if your wife is ever a victim of rape, I guess it will be her own fault. And men will never change? gee that’s funny cause several centuries ago most men thought it was ok to keep slaves. Nowadays, although racism is still rampant, most rational people would answer that slavery was and is wrong. Attitudes DO change but it takes time… A LONG TIME. The highest % of women are raped by someone they know and trust. Date rape and spousal rape are a huge problem. It’s because of THE ATTITUDE, WHICH YOU HAVE, that women tempt men by how they act and dress, and so because of women’s behavior we can’t blame men for then acting on their BASE desires (as you so put it) and raping them. WRONG WRONG WRONG.

          • Mark says:

            It is funny that you should mention slaves. Did you know that there are more slaves in America today than there was in 1861? That’s right. Most of them are sex slaves brought in by gangs and drug cartels to make money for their criminal operations. YOU still don’t seem to get it. You are never going to change criminal behavior by changing the attitudes of good men. You only change criminal behavior by getting rid of criminals. And quite frankly, we are never going to run out of criminals. The problem is criminal behavior, not the attitudes of good men. And good luck changing the attitudes of criminals. They are selfish, self-centered and usually violent.

        • marie says:

          Mark, I do not know you personally or know how old you are, but from your numerous posts that you’ve written here, you seem to be one of those men who actually contribute to the problem of rape culture in our society. You really have no idea about societal/cultural norms and how they affect the behavior of those citizens of said society. Trying to educate men and change the prevalent cultural attitude about rape that currently exists in our society today has nothing to do with criminals not committing crimes.

          The reason we even have sex slaves in this country is not the fault of drug cartels. The cartels only care about making money, and forcing women into prostitution is a highly profitable business. If it was not profitable, they would not do it. There is a reason sexual slavery is so profitable. Who do you think uses these sex slaves? Only criminals? Cause you’d be wrong if that’s what you think.

          I wouldn’t even bother trying to explain what rape culture is to you because you don’t seem open to changing your closed mind, but in case anyone else reads this post: “Rape culture – a culture in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender, sex, and sexuality. Examples of behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, sexual objectification, trivializing rape, denial of widespread rape, or refusing to acknowledge the harm of certain forms of sexual violence that do not conform to certain stereotypes of stranger or violent rape.” Sounds an awful lot like your opinions that you’ve expressed here about the way women dress and tempt men’s base desires and J Lo shaking her booty in videos, and then how you say you poor men are blamed when you respond to that… or whatever other ridiculous crap you wrote in your other posts. I doubt you will, but you can google or go here for more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_culture.

          To answer you about slavery…..The enslavement of Africans in this country USED TO BE LEGAL but NOW it is ILLEGAL. Slavery was caused by the cultural attitude/belief of the majority at that time that people with black skin were less than human. The reason the enslavement of blacks is NO LONGER LEGAL is because the MAJORITY cultural attitude shifted, THANK GOD…. and MOST people nowadays do not believe those antiquated ideas due to EDUCATION. Does racism still exist? Yes. But it is not legally supported by the government as it was in the past and now it is frowned upon by most.

          Beating and raping your wife used to be legal too, because THAT was the cultural belief at the time. Now those behaviors are illegal as well…again, BECAUSE of a SHIFT in attitude of the majority in our culture. The same with women being allowed to vote, children attending school instead of working, gay marriage being legalized, pot being legalized, and on and on and on.

          Thru all of these cultural shifts in attitudes, there have always been people and criminals who will go against the norm of society and still cling to outdated beliefs and who will still commit crimes. One can never change all the minds of any society, but we can hope to at least change the majority just like we’ve done in the past. I’m sorry to say, your belief that to solve the rape problem is as simple as handing women guns is just flat out wrong and you even say in your post that criminals will always commit crimes. We have the death penalty in many states and that still doesn’t deter many criminals.

          Not to mention that the majority of women are raped by men they know and trust. And altho it’s illegal now for men to beat their wives or rape them, SOME men still DO beat and rape their wives. And some of these men who do this are what society would deem as “good men”….christians, police officers, judges, lawyers…. and yet they’d never break any other law other than beating and raping their own wives. Why do you suppose this is? Do you believe that it’s because their wives don’t own a gun and shoot them in their sleep? Cause ya know, that has happened and those women went to jail. No, the reason some men still rape and beat their own wives is because here in the US and in most cultures around the world, women are treated as second class citizens, they are not valued, they are not looked upon as equal or as important as men, and they are looked upon as disposable. That is rape culture in action, and we need to change it and we WILL change it.

          We will change it despite people like you who will continue to cling to antiquated ideas of gender, sex, & sexuality, and despite you and men like you who continue to victim blame and sexually objectify women and refuse to accept responsibility for your OWN actions. Cultural attitudes will change without you and we will leave you behind, just like we left behind all the men who didn’t want women to vote, who didn’t want to give blacks their freedom, who thought it should be legal to beat and rape their own wives, who think gays should not be allowed to marry…… sorry to you and your close minded peers, but we don’t need you to change. Have fun living in your own deluded world with all your deluded like minded friends, where you can all sit around and bitch about how “it’s not like it used to be”. I hope to god your wife or any other woman you actually give a damn about never gets raped, cause you sound like you’d offer no support or compassion to them whatsoever.

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