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

Team improves access to addiction, mental health supports

Service provides expanded on-call consultation

Pinpointing innovations

How precision spraying system helps Kings Lake Hutterite Colony save time, products and water

County gravel pit requires wetland solution

County of Wetaskiwin hears report about wetlands at Hilgartner pit

Financial expert: demand for oil will continue to grow

Angus Watt discusses 2020 economy in Wetaskiwin Jan. 17

‘Manny’s Motel’ badly damaged by fire Jan. 15

Police say 40 Ave. closed due to fire, use alternate route

VIDEO: Nickelback gears up for nostalgia tour

Canadian band joins Stone Temple Pilots for a summer tour that includes just one stop in Canada

Canadian law firm launches class action on behalf of Iran flight victims

Flight 752 was shot down by Iran shortly after take off

Energy companies owe more than double the tax to Alberta municipalities

Survey says communities are owed $173 million — up 114% since last spring

No gondola from Banff to Mount Norquay, feds say

Parks Canada dismisses proposal for gondola, Grizzly Pavilion and boardwalks

U.S. officials confirm first case of Wuhan coronavirus near Seattle

The U.S. is the fifth country to report seeing the illness

Nine times lucky? Alberta’s Northern Cree takes another shot at Grammy gold

The group originates from the Saddle Lake Cree Nation in northern Alberta

Tax revolt? Unpaid taxes from energy companies to Alberta towns more than double

The association says they are owed a total of $173 million

New post-secondary funding model in Alberta tied to performance measures

By 2022, up to 40 per cent of post-secondary funding could be linked to performance

Alberta bulldog breeder ordered to refund B.C. buyer over puppy’s behaviour

Tribunal ruled a verbal agreement to send a new dog superseded the written contract

Most Read