Joe Biden to College Students: A Drunk Woman Cannot Consent

By Bryan Le 05/01/17

Biden's speech was part of a continuing White House campaign to end sexual assault.

Former Vice President Joe Biden delivering an impassioned message.
Only yes means yes, says Biden

In a speech he delivered at George Mason University, former Vice President Joe Biden urged college students to take a stand against sexual assault.

“Change the culture. You can do it,” he told the crowd. "College campuses are communities. And the place where people’s attitudes are affected, changed, altered, impacted, are within communities.”

The speech was part of the “It’s On Us” campaign started under Barack Obama in 2014 to end sexual assault. Despite no longer being in office at the White House, Joe Biden has appeared on talk shows and has written op-eds to continue the campaign.

Biden directly addressed male students in the crowd in no uncertain terms regarding consent and rape.

“Guys. A woman who’s dead drunk cannot consent. You are raping her. You are raping her if she cannot say ‘it’s okay,’” he warned. “I really mean this. We’ve got to talk about this. Consent requires affirmative consent. And if you’re too drunk to be able to consent, it is not consent.”

Biden provided an example to hammer home that nothing short of affirmative consent should be taken as consent: "A young woman standing here could take all her clothes off and walk out the door. She could be arrested for indecent exposure, but no man has a right to lay a hand on her at all. None."

The former Vice President also asked that no college student tolerate inappropriate “locker-room talk.”

“You’ve got to speak up,” he said. “You cannot let that kind of talk be bred on the college campus. You’ve got to do what I’ve done, what my father taught me. Turn and say, ‘You’re a horse’s tail.’ Only a little more graphic.”

He also referred to a 2015 Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll that found that 20% of college women had been a victim of sexual assault in the past four years.

“One in five,” Biden said. “Every one of you knows somebody.”

Among the attendees of the 35,000 students at the Wednesday event was 13 Reasons Why actor Alisha Boe.

“We want the survivors in the room today to know that your voice matters, your story is important, and your truth is real,” she said.

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Bryan Le grew up in the 90's, so the Internet is practically his third parent. This combined with a love for journalism led him to The Fix. When he isn't fulfilling his duties as Editorial Coordinator, he's obsessing over fancy keyboards he can't justify buying. Find Bryan on LinkedIn or Twitter