In 2017, American actress Alyssa Milano broke the Internet when she took to social media platform Twitter to urge victims of sexual harassment and assault to reply to her tweet using #MeToo. And thus began the outpouring of voices from across the globe of sexual abuse survivors. Within 24 hours, over 12 million posts were put up across social media with the hashtag. However, that’s not when the movement started.
The biggest misconception that people have about the ‘Me Too’ movement is that it started with the tweet, five years ago. The truth is that ‘Me Too’ movement was started by Tarana Burke back in the early 2000s in Alabama, working with the community to fill the gaps in resources for the sexual abuse victims. “There is a difference between me too and #MeToo. Founded in the early ’2000s, ‘Me Too’ was a grassroot movement about healing in action in a small community that had gaps in resources around sexual violence. That movement grew community by community from 2005-2006 until the hashtag came. The #MeToo movement in 2017 simply amplified the same gaps around sexual violence globally,” Tarana Burke, founder and chief vision officer, ‘me too’ movement, said at the 68th edition of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
Burke emphasised that the movement is not about taking names or the court cases that came in the aftermath, but about healing and post-traumatic growth of survivors. A distinction which got lost due to the loud and brash narrative of the media. And she expects brands, creators, advertisers, and marketers to pick up the cause and change the narrative to reflect what it actually stands for. “One of the biggest challenges is narrative because nothing we say is ever as big as what the media portrays the movement to be. We would like to partner with brands who could help us tell the actual story of what ‘Me Too’ is and to talk about the survivors,” she added.
She further urged advertisers and marketers to not launch campaigns that talk about what ‘Me Too’ has done in the last five years simply for the sake of publicity. “I need you to not reduce our movement to headlines. Don’t downplay the healing that has happened, the truth telling that has happened, the power that has been released from people and reduce this to salaciousness and gossip,” she stated.