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

Federal, B.C. ministers seek meeting with Wet’suwet’en in hope of blockade solution

Coastal GasLink signed agreements with all 20 elected band councils along the pipeline route

Wet’suwet’en and B.C. government have been talking Aboriginal title for a year

Coastal GasLink says it has agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the 670-kilometre route

Wet’suwet’en return to camps near Houston, Coastal GasLink workers move through: First Nation

Opponents of a pipeline who support the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs have reoccupied camps at centre of arrests

Northern Health recommends self-quarantine for people returning from Hubei

The healthcare provider said it isn’t neccessary for healthy children to wear face masks

VIDEO: 7 things you need to know about the 2020 B.C. budget

Surplus of $227 million with big spending on infrastructure and capital projects

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

What’s in a name? The story of Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie

It’s likely the iconic peak had several Indigenous peoples’ names before settlers arrived

Budget 2020: B.C. Liberals blast ‘Netflix tax,’ lack of economic plan

ICBC rates still go up, except in election year, Shirley Bond says

Teen snowmobiler from Kelowna found after air force’s overnight search

The teen had been missing since just after 6 p.m. on Monday

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

Nanaimo man wins lotto, plans to buy $16,000 fridge

Curtis Wright a winner in Lotto 6/49 draw

Three protesters arrested after blocking driveway at premier’s home

Protestors claimed they would make a citizen’s arrest of the Premier, according to West Shore RCMP

Budget 2020: B.C. adds tax to sweet drinks and sodas

All soda, vending machine drinks will be subject to higher PST

Most Read