Tarana Burke Insists Men Don’t Need To Be Afraid As #MeToo Movement Continues To Grow

#MeToo founder Tarana Burke wants people to know that the movement isn't about 'taking down powerful men.' But she also firmly believes a 'reckoning will reach the highest office in the land.'

Even though Tarana Burke started #MeToo in 2006, there’s been a lot of confusion surrounding it as it has gained national attention over the past six months. But as the movement continues to grow, the civil rights activist firmly believes we need to change the way we discuss sexual misconduct, because “the movement is not about taking down powerful men,” she told HollywoodLife at Variety‘s Power of Women event on April 13. “Although we’ve seen some accountability in that way, that’s been a result of women standing up and telling their truth,” she added. “So it’s really important that we shift that narrative because people think that we have a target on men’s backs.”

Burke understands that it’s historically been very difficult for sexual assault survivors to speak out about their traumatic experiences. But it’s also now “daunting” for people who aren’t victims, including men, to join in the discussion about the #MeToo movement. In fact, she urges men to participate in these necessary conversations. They “don’t need to be afraid. I think this is a time to really be vulnerable and transparent and open,” she explained. “Because this is not a women’s movement. It’s a people’s movement. We’re not going to change and move the needle without men. So it’s really important that we have these honest dialogues and that men let down their guard a little bit and allow themselves to listen deeply to what’s being said.”

While the movement initially started in a “grassroots” way that slowly spread from survivor to survivor, Burke is “grateful” and “overjoyed” at how far it has spread since Alyssa Milano turned “Me Too” into a hashtag and put it on Twitter in Oct. 2017. “It has been both surprising and wonderful to see the world embracing what we knew is something that is so powerful and impactful for survivors,” Burke said. “I’m also really excited about the future.” She also believes that “future” could mean a world in which President Donald Trump is finally held accountable for the numerous accusations of sexual assault against him. “There is a reckoning happening in our country and I think it will reach the highest office in the land at some point,” Burke said. “Because you can’t run away from it.”

More From Our Partners