Why “He Didn’t Mean It” Has Got to Go

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

We’ve all heard the excuses.

“Well, he was drunk.”

“But he’s such a nice guy.”

“He didn’t mean it.”

But they don’t excuse anything. For survivors of sexual violence, these words – their stubborn, insistent existence – only exasperates the pain.

But:

“He said he was sorry.”

“It was just a misunderstanding.”

“It only happened once.”

So what can be done? After all, boys will be boys. Right?

“It’s none of my business.”

“This is a women’s issue.”

“Yeah, no, we don’t talk about that.”

Right?

“We’re never gonna change it.”

“It’s sad, but, um, we’re never gonna fix it.”

The Joyful Heart Foundation does not believe that we will never fix this. That a culture that excuses rape and sexual assault is normal. That there are any excuses left. That boys will just always be boys, and what boys will be is dismissive, aggressive, willful, and, ultimately, excused.

The organization believes that we have had “Enough.” In a powerful new PSA campaign of the same name, produced in conjunction with Viacom Velocity, the organization commandeers these vile but pervasive words and challenges men to actively transform how we view and talk about sexual assault.

They brought company. Joyful Heart founder Mariska Hargitay, who also stars on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, rallied her costars and many other public figures to stand up against this archaic language: Andre Braugher, Andrew Rannells, Anthony Edwards, Blair Underwood, Chris Meloni, Daniel Dae Kim, Dann Florek, Danny Pino, Dave Navarro, David Marciano, Ice-T, Nick Lachey, Peter Hermann, Raul Esparza and Tate Donovan.

The series of PSAs, which will air across MTV, VH1, TV Land, BET, and Spike, among other Viacom properties, is a bold challenge to men: let’s change how we talk about this, so we can, some day, end it.

The words, stitched together in relentless bursts, seem pale and flimsy, exposed for the transparent excuses that they are.

“What did she think would happen?”

“She was askin’ for it.”

“She was flirting with him.”

“Well, she was drunk.”

“She’s always had it out for him.”

“All right, what was she wearing?”

“That’s not how I saw it.”

“She seems fine to me.”

And yet they linger in our cultural dialogue, these words that blame sexual assault victims and defend the criminals who attack them.

It’s time to end it. Click through below to join Joyful Heart in taking a pledge to learn about these issues, talk openly about them, challenge your own biases, demonstrate positive behavior to others, and support victims:

Together, we can do this. We can change the dialogue and purge the excuses. As Joyful Heart CEO Maile M. Zambuto wrote eloquently on The Huffington Post, “This campaign, and the men who gave their time and voice, gives me hope: hope that men will join us, and become an active part of the movement to address, prevent and—one day—end this violence. Hope that men will no longer be silent—in speech and in action— about the violence and abuse that other men perpetrate.”

Join her on social media with hashtags #ChangetheCulture and #Enough, and update your Facebook or Twitter profile pictures with a filter that demonstrates your support, so we can end this:

Viacom and Joyful Heart have enjoyed a long partnership, marked by efforts to reduce the stigma surrounding domestic violence with the No More campaign.

Follow the cast and partners on social media:

Joyful Heart Foundation – Twitter: @TheJHF

Viacom Velocity – Twitter: @viacomvelocity

Viacomunity – Twitter: @viacommunity

Daniel Dae Kim – Twitter: @danieldaekim; Instagram: @danieldaekim

Anthony Edwards – Twitter: @anthonyedwards; Instagram: @anthonyedwards

Raul Esparza – Twitter: @RaulEEsparza; Instagram: @Rauleesparza

Dann Florek – Twitter: @dannflorek; Instagram: @dannflorek

Peter Hermann – Twitter: @peterhermann

Ice-T – Twitter: @finallevel; Instagram: @icet

Nick Lachey – Twitter: @nicklachey; Instagram: @nicklachey

David Marciano – Twitter: @davidmarciano; Instagram: Davidmarciano7

Chris Meloni – Twitter: @Chris_Meloni; Instagram: @chris_meloni

Dave Navarro – Twitter: @DaveNavarro; Instagram @davenavarro

Danny Pino – Twitter: @TheDannyPino

Andrew Rannells – Twitter: @AndrewRannells; Instagram: @andrewrannells

Blair Underwood – Twitter: @blairunderwood; Instagram: @blairunderwood_official

 

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