Following #MeToo Founder Tarana Burke on More than Twitter

Sexual violence is not new. It’s always been newsworthy. It is not, however, news.

It’s great that mainstream media outlets are covering it more often and considering it more than a special-interest story relegated to certain writers or publications.

But the truth is I’m not even clear or calm enough yet to write much about this. I’ve been having varied response to the #MeToo movement. I’ve had mixed feelings about the public conversation and firings that are taking place. I want to celebrate, sob, and rage simultaneously. Are others having conflicted or “complex” responses?

The shocking headlines can only be shocking if people haven’t listened, cared about sexual harassment, violence or abuse until now.

And that’s part of why the quite public firings of many are not at all satisfying to me. Accountability matters to me, of course, but not near as much as social change.


I’m not sure where we will collectively go with all the recent headlines. I’m buoyed by movement and it’s been like nothing I’ve felt or seen in my life. But behind all the headlines… what happens next and now, post-disclosure?

Why haven’t we arrived here until now? Do you feel believed, heard, supported or understood?

I’m not sure what I feel other than confused.

Many survivors know that the responses we get to telling, can be as painful and traumatic as trauma itself. That assumes the response will be bad, because, historically for most survivors, that’s been the case. Telling, for many of us, has caused more pain, loss, trauma and consequence.

Telling, for the most part, has been precarious and high risk.

Has that changed?

I think that’s why I’m so scared, unsettled, and feeling tongue tied.

I’m hoping I’m wrong. I’m hoping that things have changed enough for that to no longer be true.

And I’m also tired, relieved and breathing more deeply. I feel physically lighter and unburdened and the desperate urgency that has motivated many activists like myself can be put aside. Many of us don’t like being so vocal, open, and persistent but have felt compelled to speak for ourselves, and for others because we know people have died of sexual violence.

Maybe now I can be less vocal, visible, and more quiet without worrying about others?

Maybe I can now believe others give a crap about survivors and will listen, respond, and believe.

Maybe. Maybe those who intend to help with not make matters worse?

I worry about sounding bitter and cynical but the truth is I’m not sure what to say, feel, think or do because I don’t know yet what I can trust and believe.  I’m trying to honor my past but be open to change too.

I can’t claim a calm or clarity I don’t yet have. I’m trying to be o.k. with this tenuous place I keep waking in.

I’m learning, listening and turning to Tarana Burke is the founder of the #MeToo movement and it’s not only because she’s the founder of the movement but because she’s been doing this work for more than a decade.

I will call attention to the fact that it’s mostly white, wealthy and celebrity survivors being seen first but it’s also mostly white, wealthy, and celebrity activists getting heard first. That’s notable but it’s not the entire story or all that is important about Burke’s work.


She’s literally the leader of this movement that is still quite in movement. I need her words, vision and perspective.

She’s been at this work for years and years and years.When the MeToo movement started it was geared mostly towards young black and brown woman and has now expanded to include all survivors.  That means me. Maybe it means you too? 🙂

Burke talks about social justice, sharing and healing and social justice. That’s what the writer, survivor, activist and citizen I am needs.

Plus solace. I also need solace.

I’m so tired of all the years of witnessing, honoring, and agitating for others as well as myself. I’m sad and raging for all the years, times, and centuries of violence that is not new or news and has always been newsworthy.

I crave community and my peers who have been doing this work for far longer than I have.

And I also worry about what comes next for those who are newer who might have yet to find how much indifference there often is to what has and does happen to so many. Still.

I hope it’s worse than I fear. I hope there’s more change than I can fathom happening too fast for me to keep up with.

But I’m also confused.

Here’s something I just heard Burkey say this morning via a Business Insider article and video.

“A lot of times survivors aren’t even asking for people to be fired. A lot of times they just want their story to be told. They want to say it out loud and have some level of accountability. We have to talk to survivors for what they need. We are the ones who have to define what justice looks like. And so, the other part of it is around community action. We firmly believe that you can organize around ending sexual violence. People do every day. There are organizations and groups that do that. I feel like we need to elevate this conversation to a social justice issue.” Tarana Burke

These are the words I need.

I’m going to keep listening to Burke, learning more about her past, present and future work.

I’m going to work at staying open, active and attentive. I’m going to keep saying I feel tender, tentative, hopeful and fearful  as I sift, sort, witness and keep healing.

Her Twitter account. website

MeTooMvmt Facebook

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