Nation & World

Here’s what actually started the #metoo movement, long before the hashtag

By Mandy Matney

mmatney@islandpacket.com

You’ve probably never heard of Tarana Burke, one of the women featured to represent Time Magazine’s 2017 Person of the Year.

She is credited for starting the #metoo movement that shook Hollywood and the corporate world this year, and was named as Time’s Person of the Year on Wednesday.

Ten years ago, Burke started Just Be Inc., a nonprofit organization advocating for sexual harassment and assault victims that first used the term “Me Too” as a way for victims to connect with each other, the New York Times reported.

Survivors of sexual assault gave speeches during the #MeToo march in downtown Los Angeles on Sunday, November 12, a response to the recent string of sexual assault allegations in the entertainment industry. On Hollywood Boulevard, a podium was set

The movement didn’t gain steam until October when actor Alyssa Milano took to Twitter to start a conversation showing the magnitude of sexual assault with the hashtag #MeToo.

She tweeted, “Suggested by a friend: If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

Milano is friends with Rose McGowan, one of 80 who have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, harassment and rape, since he was first accused of sexual assault in the New York Times in early October, NBC News reported.

People on Twitter pointed out that Milano should have given credit to Burke, a black woman, for the #metoo movement.

Milano said she was unaware of Burke’s campaign, but quickly corrected her mistake by reaching out to her and working together, the New York Times reported.

Burke told the New York Times that it would be “selfish of her” to frame the #metoo movement as something “she owns,” saying “it is about the survivors.”

More than 1.7 million people have spoke out about their sexual harassment and assault experiences since the hashtag took off in October, Milano wrote on Twitter.

Since early October, dozens of celebrities have been publicly outed for alleged sexual misconduct including Kevin Spacey, Louis CK, Charlie Rose and most recently the Today Show host Matt Lauer. Several politicians have joined the list including Sen. Al Franken, George HW Bush and Roy Moore.

Milano and Burke met for the first time Wednesday when it was announced on the Today Show that the #metoo movement won as Time Magazine’s 2017 Person of the Year, according to Time Magazine.

“This is just the start. I’ve been saying from the beginning it’s not just a moment, it’s a movement,” said Burke on the Today Show. “Now the work really begins.”

Milano called for more changes coming for the #metoo movement, including advocating for changes in the workplaces that protect sexual assault victims and pushing companies to hire more women, as Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg said earlier this week.

The five women on the cover represent the millions of “silence breakers” who have changed the way sexual assault victims are seen and reported. Taylor Swift is featured, who won a lawsuit earlier this year against a DJ who groped her. Ashley Judd, who helped start the #metoo movement by sharing her story about Harvey Weinstein, is also on the cover, along with Uber engineer Susan Fowler who is known for taking down Uber’s CEO after writing a blog post about sexual harrassment within the company.

Women and men alike have taken to social media recently to post "#MeToo" to raise awareness for the number of victims of sexual harassment and assault. People were encouraged to tweet the hashtag if they had been victims of these themselves.

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