MeToo founder Tarana Burke says movement is 'unrecognisable'

Tarana Burke founded MeToo more than a decade ago, in response to sexual violence that was endemic in her community.

The movement was built on years of organising with young black women in low-income communities, connecting survivors with resources, developing activists and creating a community of empathy and healing.

And when last year’s surge in media attention transformed MeToo into a hashtag and a national movement – with millions speaking out to share their experiences – those foundations were tested.

“For survivors, we often have to hold the truth of our experience,” Ms Burke told an audience in Palm Springs, California.

“But now we are all holding something, whether we want to or not.”

Speaking as part of an event organised by TEDWomen, Ms Burke said that as the MeToo hashtag spread the media vilified women who spoke up.

“Suddenly, a movement to centre survivors of sexual violence is being talked about as a vindictive plot against men,” she said.

She also warned that MeToo risked losing its original purpose.

When it began in 2006 it framed sexual violence as being about some people having power and privilege and others being vulnerable, and sought to dismantle that structural imbalance.

“We shape that imbalance by raising our voices against it in unison, by creating spaces that speak truth to power,” she said.

“We owe future generations nothing less than a world free of sexual violence. I believe we can build that world.”

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