President Obama signed an executive order today creating a task force to protect college students from sexual assault. He also had several meaningful things to say regarding sexual assault that no other president, and very few men in general, has ever uttered.
You can read a full transcript of the president’s remarks here at the White House website, but this part in particular stood out to me.
We’ve got to keep teaching young men in particular to show women the respect they deserve and to recognize sexual violence and be outraged by it, and to do their part to stop it from happening in the first place. During our discussion earlier today, we talked about I want every young man in America to feel some strong peer pressure in terms of how they are supposed to behave and treat women. And that starts before they get to college.
So those of us who are fathers have an obligation to transmit that information. But we can do more to make sure that every young man out there — whether they’re in junior high or high school or college or beyond — understand what’s expected of them and what it means to be a man, and to intervene if they see somebody else acting inappropriately. We’re going to need to encourage young people, men and women, to realize that sexual assault is simply unacceptable. And they’re going to have to summon the bravery to stand up and say so, especially when the social pressure to keep quiet or to go along can be very intense.
Our enforcement of existing laws is woefully lax and wholly inadequate, and in some cases the law itself is inadequate, but we also need to change our culture and the president fully recognized that today.
Open displays of misogyny and rape culture must be confronted at every level of society, from adults to children, and from college to middle school.
If a friend of yours personally says something wrong and offensive, call them out on it. If they choose to no longer be your friend if you do, that’s their loss.
You can read the president’s executive order here.