In a public service announcement aired during Sunday night’s Grammy Awards, President Obama urged Americans to take responsibility for stopping sexual violence, saying, “It’s not okay – and it has to stop.”
The message is part of the White House’s “It’s On Us” public awareness campaign aimed at ending sexual assault at college campuses by enlisting the support of bystanders. The administration began the effort in September, with the support of major college sports leagues and prominent celebrities.
Obama asked the artists featured at the Grammys to ask their fans to make the same pledge that these prominent figures have made, along with students from more than 200 colleges and universities, several collegiate sports organizations, and some private firms. He notes that nearly 1 in 5 women in the U.S. has experienced rape or attempted rape, and that more than 1 in 4 has suffered some form of domestic violence.
“Artists have a unique power to change minds and attitudes, and get us thinking and talking about what matters,” he said. “And all of us, in our own lives, have the power to set an example. Join our campaign to stop this violence.”
“It’s On Us” aims to address the problem by fundamentally shifting the way we think about sexual assault, by imploring everyone to see it as their responsibility to do something to prevent it. The campaign reflects the belief that sexual assault isn’t just an issue involving a crime committed by a perpetrator against a victim, but one in which the broader community also has a role to play.
Of particular importance is the role of men as allies in sexual assault prevention. Most men are not comfortable with violence against women, but often don’t speak out because they believe that other men accept this behavior. By getting men involved, the campaign aims to change this way of thinking and create new social norms surrounding sexual assault, consent, and related issues. So far, the campaign’s ads have been viewed online more than 4 million times and, through a partnership with iHeart Radio, have aired on more than 800 stations nationwide.
In the closing moments of Obama’s spot, he added, “It’s on us – all of us – to create a culture where violence isn’t tolerated, where survivors are supported, and where all our young people – men and women – can go as far as their talents and their dreams will take them.”
Watch the video above.