Tarana Burke: Continuing the #metoo Conversation

Tarana Burke: Continuing the #metoo Conversation

JS, Medium, writing

Tarana Burke was the honored guest at Stony Brook University on Sunday, January 28, 2018, where she met with politicians, students, and held a open forum to answer questions from the public.

NY State Assemblywoman Christine Pellegrino and Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn were at the event to discuss efforts in legislation for women, children, and victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

“It’s so important to ensure that this hashtag turned viral moment turned movement, turns into lasting social and cultural change that will actually reduce victimization,” said Hahn, who revealed on stage that she was also a survivor of sexual assault.

The goal of the event was “to turn awareness into action.” Coordinator Cindy Morris of The Benson Agency and CEO of i-tri, a local organization which promotes women’s and girl’s empowerment through triathlons, worked tirelessly for weeks organizing the event, the sponsors, partners, speakers, and raising money. It came together beautifully.

Tarana Burke spoke about community healing and her work over the last 20+ years in working with survivors and finding and being a resource for healing and on-going coping and survival.

Ms. Burke shared her journey, her work, and what she is doing to help people. She spoke about her feelings on the sudden explosion of the hashtag #metoo in October 2017, saying, “Honestly, I was terrified.” and explained how she spent the next month making decisions about being involved and becoming part of this huge groundswell after spending so long working on a grassroots campaign.

While friends were trying to get her to step up and take credit for the movement, Burke was focused on making sure the movement had direction and that people understood what it was all about, and not just about the original discussions of sexual harassment in the workplace, which the first Me Too posts on Twitter were talking about. On October 15, 2017, Burke posted a video on Twitter explaining what Me Too is and what the movement’s goals are and have been for the last 12 years.

“I had to decide, am I going to be in conflict or in service? There was no direction, it was just getting bigger and I had to make a choice to be involved. I did it so there was a direction and a shape to the movement, so people could know exactly what it really meant.”

Ms. Burke has gotten a lot of attention for being the founder of the Me Too Movement.

“I appreciate the accolades and recognition for founding me too. But what I know is there are thousands of us across the country…I acknowledge all those who do what they have to do to make it work.”

One question for Ms. Burke talked about men and whether they are ‘allowed’ to say me too.

“I am not going to be the person who looks at a man and tells him he isn’t allowed to say ‘me too’ and discuss his sexual assault. 1 in 6 men have been sexually assaulted or abused, most of them while they were just children. This is for all survivors.”

When talking about empathy and breaking the silence, she discussed how sharing your story is a roller coaster of emotions. It is not just about relief, it’s also about reliving the experience, and having fear about putting it out there, and healing.

“Every time we break the silence, we give others permission to, as well.”

On sympathy and empathy.

“When we tell our story, the first thing people say is, ‘I’m so sorry that happened to you.’ They don’t mean to, but they are putting space between the two of them. Often, the survivor ends up in the weird position of trying to comfort the other person, saying, ‘Oh, no it’s okay…’ What we need to be doing is simply asking the survivor, ‘What do you need right now? How can I help you?’ Bring each other together, not separate.”

In her mission to continue the conversation, Ms. Burke absolutely succeeded. The audience of a few hundred hung on her words and were actively engaged in the discussion.

Ms. Burke was incredible. She is so grounded and real and very intentional in her work and how she speaks to people. She was a joy to listen to and I left the event feeling more ready than ever to be a part of the conversation and the solution for ongoing healing.

The #metoo event at Stony Brook University was sponsored by i-tri, L.I. Against Domestic Violence, Protect NY Kids, AFT, TD Bank, The Safe Center LI, VIBS Family Violence and Rape Crisis Center, Crime Victims Center, and the Association for Mental Health & Wellness.

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#MeToo the Book — Share Your Story

#MeToo the Book — Share Your Story

Books, Entrepreneur, JS, writing

I have been deeply inspired by the sharing and bravery of the people who told their story while #metoo swept social media in the last weeks. I have also been a victim of sexual harassment and assault, and I think it is more important than ever that we continue to talk about, continue to provoke conversation, and refuse to be victims.

I am putting together a book of stories based on the #metoo movement.

Are you interested in telling your story?

Hi, my name is Jyssica Schwartz. I am a 31-year-old writer and editor based in Brooklyn, NY. If you’d like more information about me, please feel free to check out my websiteblogInstagramTwitter, or book. This is a sensitive topic and I will be open and honest with all of you. Reach out to me with questions, concerns, and stories.

I have been very open about writing about mental health and my anxiety in my entrepreneurship journey and I continue this refusal to be a part of stigmatizing difficult topics with this book. As an author, I have the capacity and ability to put this project together using professional editors, cover designers, formatters, etc.

Submissions

If you would like to participate, please submit your story (no minimum length requirement, but please keep it under 3000 words) either to me by email at jyssica.schwartz@gmail.com or uploading it to upload it to Google drive here.

  • Make sure you include a title (if you want one), a first name, age, and location either in the filename of the document or at the top of the document itself.
  • I have been asked if contributors can be anonymous – YES. Use a fake first name or just “Anonymous,” but please still include your age and location.
  • This is open to ALL genders, ages, races, nationalities, everything. There will be no discrimination. If you submit, you will be included.
  • You are NOT being asked to pay anything at all. It is 100% free to be involved. I am currently planning to self-fund this project.

There is no length requirement, but here are some things to consider:

  • Think about not just the incident itself but the way you felt afterward, what steps you took, and why you did or did not report it.
  • Were you raised hearing things like “boys will be boys” or being told not to wear certain things because it might “distract the boys” or cause problems?
  • What might you do differently now or tell people now about these situations?
  • Your story is subject to general editing (not for content).

It could be anything from realizing we’re raised to expect it to how you feel about harassment to anything deep or light-hearted. I genuinely want different perspectives and views. It can be short or long, but I am looking for raw honesty. You would not need to be fully identified.

This movement has certainly highlighted the fact that almost all women are harassed so often that we ignore it and don’t talk about it, but I think we should.

This project is open to both men and women and you can stay anonymous with just a first name (even a pseudonym), age and country as the location.

This book

  • Will be open to all ages, genders, and nationalities. Diversity is encouraged and completely welcome.
  • Does not differentiate between types of stories. If it was verbal harassment or something far worse, your story deserves to be heard.
  • Will be self-published and available as both an ebook and a paperback.
  • Will be professionally edited.
  • Will have a professional cover and interior formatting.
  • Will have an introduction by me, likely based on a blog post I recently wrote about this topic (Unless someone more famous [which is basically everyone] is interested in being involved and wants to write a foreword/introduction!).

This book is for all of us.

A Few Statistics

  • 70% of sexual harassment incidents in the workplace are not reported (source)
  • An analysis of 55 representative surveys found that about 25 percent of women report having experienced sexual harassment, but when they are asked about specific behaviors, like inappropriate touching or pressure for sexual favors, the share roughly doubles. Those numbers are broadly consistent with other survey findings. (source)
  • In 2015, 6,822 sexual harassment claims were filed with the EEOC. 17.1 percent of those cases were filed by men. (source)
  • Perpetrators of sexual violence are less likely to go to jail or prison than other criminals. In fact, out of every 1000 rapes, 994 perpetrators will walk free. (Source)
  • Only 344 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police. That means about 2 out of 3 go unreported. (source)
  • Members of the military: 43% of female victims and 10% of male victims reported. (source)
  • In 2016, the EEOC released a comprehensive study of workplace harassment in the United States, which concluded that “anywhere from 25% to 85% of women report having experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.”
  • Almost two-thirds of male and female college students interviewed said they have encountered some type of sexual harassment while attending a university, about a third of which included physical contact such as being grabbed or touched in a sexual manner. (source)

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