Joe Biden calls men who don't stop sexual assaults 'cowards'

Former Vice President Joe Biden has strong words for men who don't help end sexual assault.

As part of his anti-sexual-assault campaign, "It's on Us," Biden recently released a text messaged-themed PSA tackling rape culture, and in a recent interview with Teen Vogue, he had frank words for bystanders who don't intervene on behalf of potential sexual assault victims.

"Bystanders who see something happen, in my view, if they don't holler, scream, pick up the phone and call and intervene, they are complicitous in the commission of a crime. They are complicitous. Look, if you see a brother taking a drunk freshman co-ed up the stairs to his room and you do nothing, you're a coward. You are a coward. You have an obligation to step up. You know that she's not able to give consent. And so, I went on campuses, we put together this program, and more than 400,000 people have signed the pledge to intervene. That's how you change attitudes — get a critical mass of people beginning to speak out so that the attacker or the bystander is the pariah, not the woman being assaulted, whether she's drunk or sober."

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U.S. Vice President Joe Biden wipes his eyes before receiving the Medal of Freedom from U.S. President Barack Obama, not pictured, during an event at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017. Obama awarded Biden with the highest civilian honor, commemorating an 'extraordinary man with an extraordinary career in public service.'

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US President Barack Obama awards Vice President Joe Biden the Presidential Medal of Freedom during a tribute to Biden at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 12, 2017.

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Vice-President Joe Biden speaks after he received the Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama during an event in the State Dinning room of the White House, January 12, 2017 in Washington, DC.

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U.S. President Barack Obama hugs Vice President Joe Biden after presenting him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., January 12, 2017.

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U.S. President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Vice President Joe Biden in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., January 12, 2017.

(REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)

Vice-President Joe Biden reacts as President Barack Obama delivers remarks during an event in the State Dining room of the White House, January 12, 2017 in Washington, DC.

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WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: (AFP OUT) U.S. Vice President Joe Biden wipes his eyes as Preident Barack Obama presents him with Medal of Freedom during an event in the State Dinning room of the White House January 12, 2017 in Washington, DC.

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U.S. President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Vice President Joe Biden in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., January 12, 2017.

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US Vice President Joe Biden wipes away tears after President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom during a tribute to Biden at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 12, 2017.

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U.S. President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Vice President Joe Biden in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., January 12, 2017.

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Vice-President Joe Biden gets emotional as President Barack Obama delivers remarks during an event in the State Dinning room of the White House, January 12, 2017 in Washington, DC.

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U.S. President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Vice President Joe Biden in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., January 12, 2017.

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U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks at a tribute to Vice President Joe Biden in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., January 12, 2017.

(REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)

U.S. President Barack Obama looks at his watch as he reacts to Vice President Joe Biden speech in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., January 12, 2017.

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U.S. Vice President Joe Biden wipes his eye after President Barack Obama presented him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., January 12, 2017.

(REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)

US Vice President Joe Biden wipes away tears as he walks past President Barack Obama after he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom during a tribute to Biden at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 12, 2017.

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U.S. President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Vice President Joe Biden in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., January 12, 2017.

(REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)

Vice-President Joe Biden speaks after he received from President Barack Obama the Medal of Freedom during an event in the State Dinning room of the White House, January 12, 2017 in Washington, DC.

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US Vice President Joe Biden acknowledges applause after President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom during a tribute to Biden at the White House in Washington, DC, on January 12, 2017.

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U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks at a tribute to Vice President Joe Biden in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., January 12, 2017.

(REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)

U.S. President Barack Obama presents the Medal of Freedom to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden during an event at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017. Obama awarded Biden with the highest civilian honor, commemorating an 'extraordinary man with an extraordinary career in public service.'

(Olivier Douliery/Pool via Bloomberg)

U.S. President Barack Obama looks at his wife Michelle and his daughters Malia and Sasha during an event in the State Dinning room of the White House, January 12, 2017 in Washington, DC. Obama presented the Medal of Freedom to Vice President Joe Biden.

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U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Vice President Joe Biden after presenting him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., January 12, 2017.

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U.S. Vice President Joe Biden reacts as President Barack Obama delivers remarks to tribute him in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., January 12, 2017.

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In the interview, Biden also helped define affirmative consent. While most people have heard the phrase "No means no," states like California have moved to an affirmative consent model of "yes means yes."

"If a young woman is drunk, she cannot consent," he said. "She cannot consent, and it's rape. It's rape. It's rape. It's rape. I wanted them to see because it's clear what the subtext is. It's not OK. It's not OK unless she can affirmatively consent."

Biden also spoke to Teen Vogue about rape culture, which he called a "fundamentally cultural problem."

"There are a lot of young men who come up because of that culture that they were raised in and think they have to be tough guys," he said. "They think, if you go to kiss her and she doesn't want to kiss you, pull her tight and kiss her anyway."

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U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (C) takes the oath of office from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor as his wife Jill Biden holds the family bible and family members look on at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington January 20, 2013. Shown are R. Hunter Biden (front row), Maisy Biden (black cardigan), Noami Biden (red shirt), Finnegan Biden (maroon and black dress), Natalie Biden (front row, purple dress), Kathleen Biden, Hunter Biden, Ashley Biden, Howard Krein, Beau Biden and Hallie Biden.

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U.S. Vice President Joe Biden joined by his family members walk along the national road named after his late son Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III, in the village of Sojevo, Kosovo, August 17, 2016. President Joe Biden is the guest of honor during the street dedication ceremony naming the national road Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III.

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U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (R) talks with his son, U.S. Army Capt Beau Biden, at Camp Victory on the outskirts of Baghdad July 4, 2009. Biden met U.S. troops preparing to mark their Independence Day holiday on Saturday, on the third day of a visit he has used to urge Iraqi politicians to do more to reconcile rival factions.

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U.S. President Barack Obama (L-R), Vice President Joe Biden and Biden's son Hunter Biden attend an NCAA basketball game between Georgetown University and Duke University in Washington, January 30, 2010.

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U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (L) is joined by his wife Jill Biden (4th L) and their family for remarks at a volunteer project to assemble care kits for U.S. military service members and veterans at a Unite America in Service event at the National Guard Armory in Washington, January 19, 2013. Biden and his family volunteered for the event during the National Day of Service as part of the 57th Presidential Inauguration.

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Democratic vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden (D-DE) watches his grandson Hunter wave at the crowd after Biden spoke at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado August 27, 2008.

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Dr. Jill Biden (C), wife of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, waves onstage with Biden family members at the Kids Inaugural concert for children and military families, one of the events ahead of the second-term inauguration of U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington January 19, 2013.

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U.S. Vice President Joe Biden walks with his sons Beau (L) and Hunter (2nd R) and his wife Jill down Pennsylvania Avenue during the inaugural parade in Washington January 20, 2009.

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U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (R) holds hands with his wife Jill along with relatives as they walk on a road named after their late son Joseph 'Beau' Bide in the village of Sojevo on August 17, 2016. Biden said that the United States would remain a 'champion' of an independent Kosovo, but he firmly warned its leaders against the 'cancer' of corruption. On his first visit to Kosovo since 2009 -- the year after it unilaterally declared independence from Serbia -- Biden held talks with President Hashim Thaci and other leaders before a dedication ceremony naming a road after his late son.

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US vice president Joe Biden (C) walks with his son in law Howard Krien (L) during a visit to a local food court in Singapore on July 26, 2013. Biden is on a two-day official visit to Singapore after India where officials say he will tackle tensions over the disputed South China Sea 'head on.'

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US Vice President Joe Biden (3rd L) and his three grandchildren look at a koala during a visit to Taronga Zoo in Sydney on July 19, 2016. US and Australian troops plan to step up training so they are 'fully prepared' to answer challenges in the Pacific, Biden said amid rising tensions over Beijing's claims in the South China Sea.

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Vice President of the United States Joe Biden (C) and family attend the 2016 ESPYS at Microsoft Theater on July 13, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.

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Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, son of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, addresses the final session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina September 6, 2012.

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Chief Executive Officer of the AFL Gillon McLachlan, President of the MCC Stephen Smith and Chairman of the AFL Mike Fitzpatrick pose for a photograph with US Vice President Joe Biden and his granddaughters during the 2016 AFL Round 17 match between the Carlton Blues and the West Coast Eagles at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 17, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia.

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PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 13: Dr. Jill Biden and her grand-daughter Natalie Biden try samples of food as they meet with students and staff during a visit to the Lycee Guillaume Tirel on June 13, 2016 in Paris, France. The college serves as a school for cooking and hotel services.

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U.S. Vice President-elect Joe Biden, carrying his grandson Hunter Biden, departs following a Sunday morning service at Holy Trinity Church, a Roman Catholic congregation in Washington, January 18, 2009.

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Second lady Dr. Jill Biden and her grand-daughter Natalie attend mass at Notre-Dame Cathedral on June 12, 2016 in Paris, France.

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Vice-President Joe Biden and sons Hunter Biden (L) and Beau Biden walk in the Inaugural Parade January 20, 2009 in Washington, DC. Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, becoming the first African-American to be elected President of the US.

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Vice President of the United States Joe Biden, wife and Second Lady of the United States Dr. Jill Biden and family members attend University Of Pennsylvania Commencement keynote address delivered by Lin Manuel Miranda during University of Pennsylvania 260th Commencement Ceremony at Franklin Field at the University of Pennsylvania on May 16, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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US Vice President Joe Biden (C) leaves the Church of the Holy Sepulchre with his family on March 9, 2016 during his visit in Jerusalem's Old City.

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Vice President of the United States Joe Biden (C), his wife Dr. Jill Biden (C-L), and his granddaughter Naomi Biden (C-R) visit Arasta Bazaar, at Sultan Ahmed in Istanbul, Turkey on January 22, 2016.

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US Vice President Joe Biden (2nd L) stands with his daughter Ashley Biden (L), his wife Jill Biden (2nd R) and son-in-law Howard Krien (R) after being being presented with a new orchid hybrid plant (pictured C) named 'Joe and Jill Biden' during a visit to the National Orchid Garden in Singapore on July 26, 2013. Biden is on a two-day official visit to Singapore after India where officials say he will tackle tensions over the disputed South China Sea 'head on.'

(MOHD FYROL/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill wave as they listen to Biden's son, Beau Biden, address the final session of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, September 6, 2012.

(REUTERS/Philip Scott Andrews)

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (C) buys an ice-cream at a shop as he tours a Hutong alley with his granddaughter Finnegan Biden (R) and son Hunter Biden in Beijing December 5, 2013.

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Biden has made a career of trying to stop sexual assault. Aside from dedicating his private life as a citizen to bring men to the table on the issue, he also drafted the Violence Against Women Act in 1994 while a U.S. senator.

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