In this Oct. 27, 2017 photo, Tarana Burke, founder, #MeToo Campaign, appears at the Women’s Convention in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

VIDEO: #MeToo leader launches new hashtag to mobilize U.S. voters

Tarana Burke hopes to prompt moderators to ask about sexual violence at next debate

The founder of #MeToo is using the second anniversary of the movement to launch a new effort intended to mobilize voters heading into the 2020 election.

The new hashtag #MeTooVoter was unveiled Tuesday, on the same day as the fourth Democratic presidential debate and reflects a frustration among activists that issues of sexual violence and harassment have largely been absent from the debate stage and campaign trail.

“You can’t have 12 million people respond to a hashtag in this country and they not be constituents, taxpayers, and voters,” #MeToo founder Tarana Burke told The Associated Press. “We need these candidates to see us as a power base. So many people engage with survivors from a place of pity.”

A record number of women are running in the 2020 Democratic field, and women will be a pivotal bloc in both the primary and the general election.

Still, women are too often treated like a special interest group rather than the majority of the American electorate, said Ai-jen Poo, director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, which is partnering with #MeToo on voter education, mobilization and turnout efforts over the next year.

“The whole point of #MeTooVoter is to say that survivors are a huge political force and incredibly motivated in this moment,” Poo said. “We’re going to be calling on anyone who’s serious about governing and leading this country forward to actually answer for how they’re going to make this country more safe.”

Burke said that nearly a year into the Democratic primary, none of the 2020 hopefuls has spoken to her as they have shaped their presidential platforms, which she said points to a lack of urgency even amid a climate of increased awareness around the issue. She hopes #MeTooVoter will prompt debate moderators to ask a question about sexual violence at the next debate, but does not expect the topic to come up on Tuesday.

Whether #MeToo makes the debate stage or not, Burke said she is considering a town hall around the issue to hear more fully from candidates about their stances.

It was on the one-year anniversary of when #MeToo became a viral hashtag that Burke was still reeling from the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, whose nomination hearing focused largely on allegations of sexual assault when he was a teenager.

The hearing, watched by millions and seen as a major turning point in the MeToo movement, was seen by some women as a setback to efforts to hold men accountable for sexual violence. For Burke, the moment was a turning point.

“It was the first time we saw survivors en masse come out and put their bodies on the line for this issue,” said Burke. “It was the moment I realized we had to form as an organization. People are willing to stand up, march, talk, come out in the rain. People are ready for this moment.”

READ MORE: BrettKavanaugh.com launched as a site to help sexual assault survivors

Errin Haines, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Air Canada extends suspension of flights in and out of West Kootenay Regional Airport until April 30

It’s still unknown if flights will resume at Castlegar’s airport on May 1

Q&A: Interior Health CEO answers questions on COVID-19 response

Susan Brown, president and CEO of Interior Health, answers questions regarding COVID-19

COVID-19 adds worry and unexpected costs to Castlegar woman’s cancer fight

Community fundraiser raises $9,000 for Jennifer Rodrigues’ family

Ivy at Nelson Courthouse to be removed

The ivy is causing structural damage to the building

B.C. couple celebrates 61st anniversary through seniors’ home window

Frank and Rena Phillips marked occasion at Nanaimo Seniors Village this week while social distancing

A look at some of the B.C. inventors creating life-saving tools in fight against COVID-19

Groups across B.C. are working together to create what they hope will help people affected by the pandemic

Association launches French-language games, online tools for families learning at home

Games, culture and vocabulary included in new virtual resources

‘There can be no ambiguity’: Travellers brought home to B.C. must self-isolate

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the mandatory isolation must be abided by

Interior Health confirms five additional cases in Okanagan COVID-19 outbreak

The total amount of confirmed cases at Bylands Nurseries Ltd. is 19; no further cases expected

55+ BC Games cancelled amid COVID-19 concerns

Greater Victoria set to host 2021 event

ANKORS East Kootenay details concerns surrounding harm reduction amid COVID-19

Harm reduction providers are having to keep up with rapidly changing situation

BC Hydro offers three-month bill ‘holiday’ for those affected by COVID-19

Industrial customers can defer half of their power bills

Some April Fool’s Day jokes bring much-needed laughter; others tone deaf to COVID-19

Police are warning the public not to use the ongoing pandemic as a punchline

Most Read