Los Angeles (AFP) – The #MeToo movement’s founder said Saturday the time has come for sexual abuse victims to organize to provide resources for all who experienced similar trauma.
The global anti-sexual harassment, assault and abuse campaign has felled high-profile men across many industries, from Hollywood stars to top media personalities and politicians.
“Me too was just two words; it’s two magic words that galvanized the world,” Tarana Burke said during a roundtable at the United State of Women Summit in Los Angeles.
“We have to be in a moment of strategy right now. Organizing has to happen. The amplification has happened.”
The activist began using the phrase “me too” more than 10 years ago, and her movement gained international momentum, spearheaded by social media activity and riding on outrage over Harvey Weinstein’s sexual abuse toward women long perpetrated with impunity.
“The work that needs to happen now is what happens after you said ‘me too,’” Burke said.
Speaking to AFP, Burke acknowledged she was initially surprised by the breadth of the #MeToo movement as it gathered steam late last year.
“Whether it’s work on sexual assaults on college campuses or awareness of child abuse, work on sexual harassment, we need to elevate this conversation to action,” she said.
“I didn’t think we’d ever see a time when there would be a national conversation about sexual violence.”
Burke called for greater focus on the victims rather than the aggressors.
Calling for everyone to individually educate themselves and gain greater awareness, Burke also urged Congress to create laws to better protect victims and voters to elect candidates who will “make our communities less vulnerable.”
During the roundtable, fellow activist Leanne Guy suggested Native American women were most affected by sexual violence.
“This began with colonization and has continued ever since,” she said, noting Saturday was the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Native Women and Girls.
Activists and celebrities including Jane Fonda, Dolores Huerta and Valerie Jarrett also spoke on stage, urging women to actively defend their rights.
More than 5,000 people — most of them women — attended the event at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles for the two-day conference.
Ted Bunch, founder of the group A Call to Men, stressed the importance of men being involved in anti-sexism efforts.
“I always invite them around the table,” he explained.