#metoo is seen all over the internet which Women and some men have used to share personal stories of sexual harassment and assault. Some of my readers might have also participated in the campaign but what you know about the origin of it?
It is true that these two simple words became a rally crying right after the allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein appeared in recent past but he is not the origin for the #metoo movement. The spark for the movement was lighted earlier than that which caught fire over the weekend when actress Alyssa Milano tweeted “a call-out to victims so we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”
It’s a delusion that the online movement started with Milano but the truth is that it started more than 10 years ago with activist Tarana Burke, the program director for Brooklyn-based Girls for Gender Equity and her goal is to empower young women of color. While talking to CNN she revealed, “It’s not about a viral campaign for me, it’s about a movement.” Ever since the movement began as she put it in the “deepest, darkest place in my soul.”
In 1996, while working as a youth camp director, in all-girl bonding session once Burke was asked by a young girl speak to privately. She could never forgot the look on the girl’s face. The activist credits this little girl and the heartbreaking origin of “Me too”.
She recounts, “For the next several minutes this child … struggled to tell me about her ‘stepdaddy’ or rather her mother’s boyfriend who was doing all sorts of monstrous things to her developing body. … I was horrified by her words, the emotions welling inside of me ran the gamut, and I listened until I literally could not take it anymore … which turned out to be less than five minutes. Then, right in the middle of her sharing her pain with me, I cut her off and immediately directed her to another female counselor who could ‘help her better.’ “
“The shock of being rejected, the pain of opening a wound only to have it abruptly forced closed again — it was all on her face,” she wrote.
“I couldn’t help her release her shame, or impress upon her that nothing that happened to her was her fault. I could not find the strength to say out loud the words that were ringing in my head over and over again as she tried to tell me what she had endured. …
“I watched her walk away from me as she tried to recapture her secrets and tuck them back into their hiding place. I watched her put her mask back on and go back into the world like she was all alone and I couldn’t even bring myself to whisper … me too.”
While narrating this story to CNN she claims that it’s actual birth of the movement to help young women of color who had survived sexual abuse, assault and exploitation.
For her this hashtag is a bold declarative statement on one side that ‘I’m not ashamed’ and ‘I’m not alone’ and on the other side, it’s a statement from survivor to survivor that says ‘I see you, I hear you, I understand you and I’m here for you or I get it,’. When someone has experienced trauma and meets another person with similar experience then the individuals show empathy for each other which creates a bond between them.
The actress Milano credited Burke with creating ‘Me too’ and tweeted a link to her organization which made Burke happy to see her idea reach a larger audience. She has seen it happen over and over again in small waves, but to see it happening in masses is amazing for her and she is looking forward to take it beyond a viral moment.
The entire world is using hashtag “Me Too” to tell their stories but there are some who are unable to access these services or may not want to open their wounds by speaking out their own stories. But huge number of people are participating in the movement and according to Twitter the #MeToo hashtag has been used 825,000 times in less than 24 hours with 4.7 million people around the world have engaged in the “Me too” conversation, with more than 12 million posts, comments and reactions. Similarly Facebook states that more than 45% of people in the United States are friends with someone who’s posted a message with the words ‘Me too.’