White House Launches “It’s On Us” Campaign

Last week, the White House launched a new campaign called “It’s On Us” to address the problem of sexual assault on college campuses.  I don’t know the stats on whether this is a growing problem, but if there is sexual assault at all, men should step up and prevent it.  I applaud the White House for raising the issue of protecting women.

The thrust of their effort seems to be encouraging both men and women to speak up in situations where a sexual assault may occur.  They give the following tips.

  1. Talk to your friends honestly and openly about sexual assault.
  2. Don’t just be a bystander — if you see something, intervene in any way you can.
  3. Trust your gut. If something looks like it might be a bad situation, it probably is.
  4. Be direct. Ask someone who looks like they may need help if they’re ok.
  5. Get someone to help you if you see something — enlist a friend, RA, bartender, or host to help step in.
  6. Keep an eye on someone who has had too much to drink.
  7. If you see someone who is too intoxicated to consent, enlist their friends to help them leave safely.
  8. Recognize the potential danger of someone who talks about planning to target another person at a party.
  9. Be aware if someone is deliberately trying to intoxicate, isolate, or corner someone else.
  10. Get in the way by creating a distraction, drawing attention to the situation, or separating them.
  11. Understand that if someone does not or cannot consent to sex, it’s rape.
  12. Never blame the victim.

It’s an excellent idea to pay attention when somebody might be in trouble and step in.  But I think the root of this problem starts much earlier than 2am as a fraternity party is winding down.  Where do men get the idea that it’s acceptable to take a woman home after she’s had too much to drink and pressure her (or force her) to have sex?  Why do so many men treat women as objects to be used and then disposed?  Our culture clearly glorifies sexual narcissism.  Almost every magazine presents women as objects. Advertisements objectify women’s body parts to help sell their products.  The “womanizer” is now a hilarious and loveable character on many sitcoms.

Where do we go for answers?  We can’t expect a culture that treats women as objects to suddenly re-humanize them at the exact moment when they’re in danger.  We need to change the culture so men see women not as objects but as people made in the image of God.  This is why it’s so important to promote a Biblical view of humanity and a Biblical view of sex.  We can’t wait until a man is 21 and drunk at a fraternity party to explain to him the humanity of women.  We need to encourage that belief from a young age.  We need to return to a Biblical view of the role of sex in our lives if we expect men to treat women as more than objects to be plundered.  While many in the culture will find that suggestion offensive, I would encourage them to re-examine the Biblical philosophy of humanity and sex.  They may find the wisdom in there will surprise them.

3 thoughts about the post

  • Timothy Tien
    October 6, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Dear Paul:

    I agree that that it is not right for men to take advantage of weak or drunken women. But I am parenting my daughters not to put themselves in risky situations, by drinking excessively, dressing promiscuously, and being in strange places without trusted friends who will be watchful for the problems and scenarios you have described well in this post.

    It can be the case that a woman would welcome advances from some men in some contexts, but not the same advances from different men or in different contexts. And it may also be the case that, after sex, a woman might regret the sex from some men in some contexts, but not from other men or in other contexts. This is not necessarily fair for men. We need to consider men’s interests as well as women’s. To not do so would violate the definition and command to love.

    • Paul Horrocks
      October 6, 2014 at 5:29 pm

      We definitely need to train both our sons and daughters on the Biblical model for sex. There are plenty of poor choices being made on all sides. The focus on the first Justice NYC event on Nov 1 is to challenge men to protect women. However, we’ll have future events that challenge women as well.

  • Timothy Tien
    October 6, 2014 at 6:06 pm


    I think the good news is: men who are able to protect women are attractive to women, and can make great fathers.

    On the flip side: women in western culture* often reject man’s protection (which could be as common as mining the coal or providing the timber for their ultimate consumption), because that would require a respect (and even a biblical submission) that is frowned upon by (most of) the academy, the media, the government, and the church.

    Through most of history, women have had a tough go of things. Jane Austen’s characters in the fairly recent Victorian age come to mind, and they enjoyed high socioeconomic status and stability. But in the last four decades, it’s the men who are now discriminated against, through legislation of good intentions (and darker ones**).

    Women prefer and desire men to be providers for the family (whether these women prefer to work outside the home vs stay at home). However, while the economy is dynamic and jobs not a zero-sum game, the increase of women in the labor force has some nonsalutary effects on the employment of men. Here is one exhibit: http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/img/cb12-225_acs5yr_figure1.jpg

    I am glad this is one step of a larger strategy for JusticeNYC. I am cheering the church on to lead society out of the darkness, instead of abdicating and following, like we have been quite a bit in the last century.

    Thank you for your efforts!

    *I’m only including the cohorts who have access to education, television, and the internet