It took 12 years for the Me Too movement to become the powerhouse it is today.
But once it gained traction, once women across the country and the globe raised their hands in solidarity as victims of sexual harassment and abuse, it has taken less than one year to plant the seeds for what will hopefully blossom into meaningful change.
“We slowly shift culture by shifting our narrative,” said Me Too founder Tarana Burke. “[Entertainment] industry folks are at the forefront of that.”
Stories such as HBO’s The Tale, starring Laura Dern (Big Little Lies, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Twin Peaks) are paving the way by reshaping not just what women tell others, but what they tell themselves, Dern said. The Tale is based on a true story about a woman who re-examines her first sexual relationship with adult eyes, and realizes she was abused.
“The film goes beyond the subject matter itself to address “how we normalize behavior, or allow ourselves to survive a story—whatever that story is,” said Dern.
The two women took the stage at the 2018 PromaxBDA Conference, weaving together their experiences in a panel moderated by 20/20 co-anchor Amy Robach.
“The idea behind Me Too is so simple,” said Burke. “It’s a declaration and an exchange of empathy between survivors, and so many of us need that.”
Dern elaborated on her Golden Globe acceptance speech, connecting her call for restorative justice to the Me Too movement by getting to heart of what that means to someone who survived a sexual assault—and also dealt with repercussions such as heartbreak, shame at not being believed, a court trial, and losing a job—and what they need to feel whole again.
“It’s a much larger issue that we all need to consider for the next generation,” Dern said.
The decision for women to consider themselves part of the Me Too movement is also a very personal decision that comes down to how they are affected by whatever they went through.
“It’s an unfortunate club to be in,” Burke said. “Nobody wants to get a membership. But there’s also not a rush. There’s no checklist. It’s about how you internalize that experience.
“If you experienced something and it feels traumatic to you … it’s us listening to each other and reflecting that back,” she said of the movement.
Yet even now, as the momentum continues it’s also becoming a mixed bag as people start referring to Me Too as a witch hunt, wondering who it’s going to take down next.
“That language is working,” she said.
But hopefully not very well.
The future of the Me Too movement lies in making sure survivors around the world are able to find the resources they need, she said, and Burke commended The Tale not just for digging into the nuances of sexual abuse that are often left out of mainstream media, but for the related website that delves further into the topic.
With new programming coming out in the fall, Burke also stressed the importance of empowering people to find and fill the gaps in their communities by speaking out, supporting each other, and figuring out their own journey toward restorative justice.
“In October and November 2017, all these people raised their hand to say ‘Me Too,” Burke said. “And they still have their hands up, so we need to do everything we can.”
Tags: conference 2018