Tarana Burke Responds to #HimToo: "I Can't Mount Up a Defense"

Tarana Burke - Getty - H 2018
Chelsea Guglielmino/FilmMagic

"For every single troll I see, there’s 10 women in the street marching and demanding and organizing, and I would rather just put my energy there," Burke said in response to the #HimToo movement.

While Tarana Burke launched the Me Too movement over a decade ago, the movement didn't make its way into the mainstream until Alyssa Milano posted a tweet suggesting that any woman who had been sexually harassed or assaulted write, "Me too."

In honor of the one-year anniversary of the rise of the movement, Burke has revealed that she has created a number of initiatives, including a website that will serve as a hub for survivors.

The activist opened up about the website in an interview with The New York Times, which was published online Monday. "The site is rolling out in phases: Phase 1 will have two resource libraries, one that’s specifically about finding healing resources, and one that’s about finding advocacy resources," she said. "If you want to find out who is doing stuff in your community, you can find it on the advocacy side. If you’re starting your healing journey, and you’re trying to find out information about how you can connect with other survivors in your community, or find a therapist, you can find it on the resource side."

She explained that the second phase involves collecting stories. "We don’t believe in collecting stories of people’s trauma because I don’t think the trauma should be curated. We believe in sharing peoples’ stories of healing," she said. "When you start talking about what you’ve done to cope and how you have developed practices around healing, that’s something that people need to see."

"If I sat here and gave you the gory details of what happened to me, what are you taking away from that?" she added.

Burke also shared her thoughts on the recent #HimToo movement, which has risen in popularity following the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation battle, in which Kavanaugh vehemently denied claims of sexual misconduct. The movement is an attempt to protect men who say they have been wrongly accused of sexual assault.  

"You can tell that it’s just hysteria, right? Because on the one hand, they’re like 'You’re all just political pawns for the liberals and the Democrats,'" said Burke. "There’s a lot of trolling. I don’t want to sound like Pollyanna or something but it affects you, it does. It’s hard to deal with. But also, for every single troll I see, there’s 10 women in the street marching and demanding and organizing, and I would rather just put my energy there. I can’t mount up a defense against #HimToo."

The activist was then asked how she feels about the term "Me too" being used seemingly everywhere. "That’s exactly why it’s important to get in the writers rooms now and to connect with Hollywood now. Before it gets to be such a catchall phrase that they dilute its meaning, that we help people understand the gravity behind the words and that it’s not just used as, 'Oh, look who got Me Too’d, ha-ha,' like a punchline," she said.

"I just read something the other day that said Lee Daniels is making a Me Too comedy. The hair stood up on my arm. To put Me Too and comedy in the same sentence is so deeply offensive and not because I’m uptight and I don’t see comedy in things," she continued. "We’re not ready for a comedy and it’s just so offensive that you think in this moment when we’re still unpacking the issue that you can write a comedy about it. And that’s the type of thing I’m talking about. We have to get out in front of that."