The founder of the #MeToo movement, Tarana Burke, recently spoke at Michigan State University. MSU has been in the news recently because of Larry Nassar, the USA gymnastics doctor who was sentenced to life in prison for sexually abusing gymnasts he pretended to treat. Nassar worked for MSU.
At the event, Burke said she was not there to provide publicity to MSU. Instead, she said she was there to speak directly to victims of sexual assault. According to Burke, #MeToo is about a community of victims, not their attackers. She said she has been disappointed that the focus has shifted from survivors. She said she started the movement as “a declaration. It was about these women standing up and saying that they had experienced these things collectively,” reported The Detroit Free Press.
Today, the media focus on sexual assault has largely shifted to the powerful figures who have been accused of misconduct.
A Bigger Focus
It is important that sexual abuse survivors have the opportunity to hold their abusers accountable. Public revelations about serial abusers have raised awareness about how common sexual assault really is. In addition, these revelations have made it clear that powerful figures have been protected from accountability, often for decades, by the industries and institutions that made them successful.
#MeToo and #TimesUp are about helping victims and changing the industries, workplaces and cultures that allow sexual abuse to occur. It is not just about stopping a handful of prominent people.
Institutions that protect serial abusers – whether they are Hollywood studios, churches, universities or athletic organizations – must undergo widespread and dramatic change. When we see institutions take actions not just in reaction to a scandal, but to proactively prevent abuse and fully support victims of abuse and assault, the goal of the #MeToo movement and others like it will have been achieved.