October 16, 2020

On 3rd Anniversary of Viral Hashtag, Me Too Announces New Tools, Programs to End Sexual Violence as We Know It

By Anne Branigin

Almost as soon as “Me Too” became part of the mainstream lexicon when discussing sexual assault, harassment and gender violence, pundits debated whether the viral hashtag was a moment or a movement. On Thursday, the third anniversary of the hashtag receiving international attention, Me Too founder Tarana Burke has a clear answer: ending sexual violence is both achievable and within reach, and she wants to give people the tools they need to dismantle it.

A phrase first coined by Burke in 2006, “Me Too” went viral as a hashtag in 2017 alongside a deluge of reporting on sexual abuse in high-profile industries. Me Too is now a nonprofit organization with a new CEO, Dani Ayers, announced today (Burke remains its executive director). The organization also unveiled a new platform, Act Too, alongside a slew of initiatives to help survivors of sexual violence and their allies find support and channel their political and social power.

“When I started ‘Me Too’ in 2006, I knew how powerful the collective voices and stories of survivors would be—what I did not anticipate was how incredibly expansive and accessible this technology would allow our movement to be,” said Burke in a statement. “It was never just about being a hashtag, but about finding ways to turn our experiences into long-term, sustainable change. Taking action towards ending sexual violence is possible to anyone who wants to be heard, to get involved, and to join us in this work.”

“Over the past three years, we’ve seen more survivors, advocates and allies speak up and step up, shifting the conversation around what it means to actually end sexual violence through public acknowledgment, accountability, and action,” said Ayers. “I’m excited to join Tarana as we continue elevating and activating the 19 million who made it so that sexual violence will never again be taboo.”

Among the programs Me Too unveiled Thursday are Survivor’s Vote, a policy-oriented multiracial, multi-issue coalition that is organizing to create a “Survivor’s Agenda” to share with law and policymakers; a Survivor Healing Series, which provides 7 weeks of virtual training for trauma survivors to help them build skills, knowledge and resources to empower them and support their healing; and an HBCU fellowship program that will help interested students develop their leadership skills and advocate for survivors’ issues on their campuses.