We are living in times of great turmoil; social, economic, and not to forget, emotional. We live in the times where men who assault women, believe it is their birthright and men who don’t, believe they are Demi-Gods. Being a woman, what impacts me the most is the journey that the women world-over have embarked upon. It is both uplifting and inspiring, and heartbreaking to hear all the stories that are everywhere. #metoo and #whyididntreport have taken the broadcast, the social, and the print media by storm. When this can of worms opened, many politicians, celebrities, businessmen and even Godmen were exposed. Many survivors shared their horror stories, inspiring women around the globe.
The force behind the ‘Me Too’ movement is the courageous and brilliant Tarana Burke. Burke, born in Bronx, New York is a civil rights activist who founded the movement in 2006, which blossomed into a worldwide campaign in 2017 when American actress Alyssa Milano used #metoo on Twitter following the sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein. Burke herself is a three-time survivor as a child and as a teen. Burke’s mother supported her and encouraged her to be actively involved in the community.
Since her early years, Burke has been an activist for various causes. As a child, she started working for improving the conditions for girls living in marginalised communities. Later in her teens when she was in college, she was involved with the cause for economic and racial justice.
According to Burke, when a 13-year-old confided in her about being sexually harassed by her mother’s boyfriend, she wished she would have told the girl, ‘me too’. Since then she has been to schools and community groups and let the girls know that they are not alone, “You’re not alone. This happened to me too.” Burke started using the phrase “Me Too” on social media in 2006 as a part of a campaign to promote “empowerment through empathy” for women in underprivileged communities who experience sexual abuse. Just Be, Inc. received its first grant in 2007. The movement which earlier focused on women of colour soon became the voice of women across the globe.
“It wasn’t built to be a viral campaign or a hashtag that is here today and forgotten tomorrow. It was a catchphrase to be used from survivor to survivor to let folks know that they were not alone and that a movement for radical healing was happening and possible.” says Burke about the #metoo.
She says that when she saw the hashtag on Twitter in 2017 by Alyssa Milano, she was gripped in panic. In her own words “Oh my god. This is mass disclosure across the internet and there’s no aftercare. Who’s going to have the discussion of what #metoo is really about?” She now wants to help women in dealing with what happens after a survivor shares her story. According to her, out of the millions engaged in this movement, if even 10% commit to working for it, then the society can be truly impacted, “The power of #MeToo isn’t just naming it. Naming it is just the beginning of the journey.”
Burke in 2017, along with a group of prominent female activists named ‘The Silence Breakers’ was named the Time Person of the Year. She is the recipient of The Ridenhour Courage Prize for the year 2018.
More power to her and the women across the globe who are fighting for the cause or are survivors.
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