More than 10 years before ‘MeToo’ became a viral hashtag, Tarana Burke was using the term to reach women of colour who had survived sexual violence. While she recognised the powerful empathy of the phrase, she had no idea that it would later be claimed by women all over the world and, ultimately, become a catalyst for global change.
Monday’s panel, 5 Years later – MeToo In 2022, saw Burke, founder and chief vision officer for the me too. Movement discuss with Susan Credle, FCB’s global chair and global chief creative officer, how the movement has evolved — and where it is headed.
“I founded the me too. Movement in Alabama in the early 2000s,” Burke said. “It was a grass roots, community-driven movement that was about healing in action for those that had suffered sexual violence. It grew incrementally over the years.”
The hashtag took off in 2017, when Alyssa Milano tweeted it following a conversation with someone who knew of Burke’s work. But Burke wasn’t fazed by the new and evolving ownership of her idea:
“I could have spent a long time fighting for credit, but that makes it all about me. You can call it ‘me too’, you can call it ‘survivor justice’… I am here to do this work.”
She added: “Eventually, I got thrust on to the international stage. Although there was a lot of celebrity focus, there were still a lot of questions from normal people, asking: ‘What do I do now we are talking about this?’ My message was: ‘I see you, survivors’ — and to try to keep the focus on the people.”
Closing, Burke pushed back against attempts to catalogue the movement’s overall effectiveness: “Please resist the urge to launch campaigns that ask what Me Too has done in the last five years. I want you to tell a different story — what Me Too has made possible.”