#MeToo: Her Decade of Empathy

 via justbeinc.org

via justbeinc.org

Have you “met” Tarana Burke yet? Her story’s a lesson in the value of
persistence. She started #MeToo ten years ago. I heard her talk with Soraya Chemaly and Alicia Garza on Amy Goodman last week, and was both surprised and deeply moved by her soft-spoken empathy and her commitment to survivors. https://tinyurl.com/yd3uv43r

Tarana told Boston Globe reporter Crystela Guerra in late October that she wasn’t even aware of her tweets going viral until a friend showed her. She said about it:

“In many regards Me Too is about survivors talking to survivors. It was
never really about amplifying the number of people who are survivors of
sexual violence. It was about survivors exchanging empathy with each
other. But when I talk to young people, I use pop culture to promote the
idea of Me Too all the time. We have to have something that reaches the
masses. That’s what I’ve always known Me Too could do. This viral moment
is just confirmation that vision was real and was possible.”

Like almost every women, I can name #MeToo encounters, though I want
to be careful to name them trespasses and shocks, not violent assaults of
the kind that threaten to undo a woman’s life. I knew such a survivor,
though, who was left for dead, and for whom attending college took such
courage “survivor” doesn’t say it. She’s a daily hero. She went on, as Tarana
did after her assault, to help and connect other victims of violence. The
trick is to ultimately outlive the bastards.

#MeToo applies widely and “reaches the masses” because every woman,
and some men too, know the special threat of sexual violence, a bodily
invasion and diminishment. But its verbal threat is everywhere, tossed off
in common parlance among men, especially powerful ones—F**k You, the
opposite of love, and the common parlance of suited street gangs in
Washington, Hollywood, and Wall Street.

Tarana says #MeToo is about survivors exchanging empathy with each
other. In the time of Screwnomics, let’s persist in sharing empathy among
us survivors aptly named the 99%. If we are to outlive Trumpish inequality,
only mutually pleasureable exchanges and partnerships will do, not
sexualized violence of any kind.