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

5 to 10 cm of snow still coming to Fraser Valley: Environment Canada

Hard to say when the freezing rain will turn to regular rainfall, Environment Canada says

Slideshow: Hope’s winter weather in photos

Readers submit photos of Hope under a blanket of snow

RCMP looking for tips in rash of crime in Hope

Theives broke into homes and cars in the Kawkawa Lake area

Fraser Cascade superintendent announces retirement

Dr. Karen Nelson has worked for School District 78 for 29 years

FVRD seeking outdoor rec feedback

Open house meetings slated for next week

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in lingerie

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

Vancouver police probe second homicide in less than 24 hours

Woman was found dead in her Gastown home

UBC, Iranian-Canadian community create memorial scholarship in honour of victims

The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

Update: Highway reopens after crash west of Revelstoke

Drive BC also reported a vehicle incident 10 km east of Golden.

Vancouver police investigate after man found dead in vehicle

Man has not been identified and no one has been arrested

Most Read