#1is2many: Why Vice President Joe Biden made me cry today

Via The White House

I was totally crying earlier and it’s all Joe Biden’s fault. Vice President Joe Biden, a long time advocate for women and girls and strong ally in the fight to end violence against women, announced a new White House PSA today called “1 is 2 many.”  The much needed PSA, featuring all men and everyone from President Obama to David Beckham calls for all of us to do our part in stopping dating violence.

As the White House site says,

1 in 5 women will be the victim of sexual assault while they are in college, 1 in 9 teen girls will be forced to have sex, 1 in 10 teens will be hurt on purpose by someone they are dating, 1 is 2 many.

As a survivor of sexual assault, one of the many challenges I’ve faced in my recovery is feeling completely alone.  I’ve often felt like no one understands me, no one believes me, no one supports me, and everyone blames me.  That feeling is only compounded when our society promotes wrong headed ideas like, “domestic violence is a private matter,” or “we don’t really know what happened because we weren’t there,” instead of simply stating that violence against women is wrong no matter what.  

When men see other men committing acts of violence against women it is their duty to say and do something about it.  Silence is passive acceptance for this behavior, and the PSA is hoping to communicate clearly to all men that this is not okay.

As Former Yankees’ manager Joe Torre, who grew up in an abusive household, says in the ad, “Violence against women hurts all of us.”  The public service announcement calls for us to step up instead of what usually happens where society focuses on how the victim could have changed their behavior to prevent the violence.  Violence against women is not someone else’s problem.  The ad also addresses another problematic and fictional narrative, that violence against women only happens to women at the hands of a stranger in an alley.  “No woman should have to fear violence.  Especially not from someone they know and trust.”

This PSA means so much to me personally.  In some ways, it’s powerful validation that no it was not my fault and even the leader of the free world agrees and wants everyone to do more to support people like me who are the “1.”

The reality is that so many of us have experienced both violence and the societal blame that follows and in some ways it’s the latter that is more hurtful and damaging long term.  This ad is a monumental step in changing the narrative around who should receive all of the blame for violence – the person committing it – and it helps put everyone else on notice that it is our collective responsibility to support and speak up for and with  survivors brave enough to tell their stories.

Watch the official White House PSA below (transcript after the jump):

Transcript: Hey Everybody Listen up, listen up guys, listen up.  No one should ever hit a woman.  Not their wife, not their girlfriend, not their date.  No woman should have to fear violence.  Especially not from someone they know and trust.  But that’s the reality for too many women.  We have to change it.  It’s up to each of us because even 1 is too many.  Violence against women hurts all of us.  Growing up I was ashamed and afraid of my father when he abused my mom.  The worst abuse of power is when a man raises his hand to hurt a woman.  We all have to take responsibility.  So if you see someone threatening a woman step up, speak out, and get help.  Dating violence hurts all of us so step up and help out because 1 is too many. One is too many. One is too many. One is too many. End the violence because it’s wrong. Because one, one is too many.

Join the Conversation

  • http://feministing.com/members/billywms/ billy williams

    “The worst abuse of power is when a man raises his hand to hurt a woman.”
    It should say:
    “The worst abuse of power is when a person raises their hand to hurt another person.”

    • http://feministing.com/members/crosskitelines/ Chelsea

      You are totally right! On the bright side it is a step in the right direction.

      • http://feministing.com/members/crosskitelines/ Chelsea

        ugh writing is hard! Correction: You’re
        now I’m just one of those anons that can’t spell

  • http://feministing.com/members/carsonnd/ Poke Mon

    Great PSA. But we also must not forget about the 40% of domestic abuse victims who are men. They need to have a voice.


    • http://feministing.com/members/elo11/ Eva

      You are absolutely right; we must not forget men who are the victims of domestic violence. It is a no less real or traumatizing experience than when perpetrated by men.

      However, I want to point to a differing statistic: the US Dept of Justice reports that 95% of victims of DV are women. Either way, we cannot deny that women are overwhelmingly the victims of both DV and sexual assault. The point of this article and the PSA is to stop victim blaming and put the responsibility where it belongs in this particular context.

      I was just thinking earlier today about how women are always encouraged to start “taking up more space”, “be assertive”, and take self defense classes to learn how to do so. That’s great n’all, but when are we going to start teaching men how to take up LESS space, be LESS aggressive and more accommodating? Makes my head spin.

  • http://feministing.com/members/cassius/ Brüno

    So its alright to be a total pos in domestic and foreign politics, as long as you dont forget to pander to women occasionally?