The Story Behind #MeToo is Deeper Than You Think

Tarana Burke is a civil rights activist that founded the #MeToo movement in 2006. Though the hashtag did not go viral until over a decade later in 2017, she had already been laying the foundation to raise awareness of the ubiquity of sexual abuse and assault long before the world discovered its existence. The political climate of Trump’s recent election has empowered many survivors to speak up against and expose their abusers’ repulsive actions. #MeToo went viral when women began using it to tweet about the sexual abuse allegations pitted against Harvey Weinstein, an American film producer. The phrase then developed into an international movement that encourages survivors to be honest with themselves and the rest of the world by naming their abusers and speaking out about their experiences.



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The hashtag went viral thanks to a tweet by actress Alyssa Milano, who began to gain credit for founding the movement, though Burke deserved all the credit. As a result, other women of color began to voice Burke’s long-time efforts and how they were largely ignored by these prominent white feminists who are now taking to the movement.  In the tweet, Milano stated: “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted, write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet” with a photo that suggested by doing so they would “give people a sense of the magnitude of this problem.”

Though I believe Milano’s intent rested in giving spotlight to a movement that was being ignored for far too long, this brings attention to the topic of voices and which ones are deemed “valid” and “worthy of listening to” by the world. Thus, this is an issue that calls attention to Black Feminisms because black female voices are often overridden and ignored by non-POC.



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Burke was inspired to create #MeToo after an experience she shared with a 13-year-old sexual assault survivor in 1997. In an interview, she stated that she was empty of a response and did not know what to say to her in the moment to inspire any sense of hope. Ten years later, however, she created Just Be Inc, a nonprofit organization that helps survivors of sexual violence and gave her movement a name: #MeToo.

Milano’s tweet helped bring light to the arduous work Burke had dedicated her life to while inspiring women to participate in forms of social media activism, such as by sharing their stories of sexual harassment and assault or by boycotting Twitter. Women all across the world came together to steer this movement right where it needed to be — in the center of public attention. What a way to use woman power!



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