Tarana Burke Talked To Villanova, This Is What I Learned
Start writing a post
Politics and Activism

Tarana Burke Talked To Villanova, This Is What I Learned

'me too' isn't a women's movement; it's a survivors's movement

Tarana Burke Talked To Villanova, This Is What I Learned

On Monday, March 26, Villanova University's Office of Student Involvement, Multicultural Student Union and Feminist Society (Feminova) brought Tarana Burke, the founder of the infamous 'me too' movement to campus for an intimate, candid conversation about the purpose of the viral movement and how students could be better allies to survivors of sexual assault. The Villanova Room — Villanova's largest and most used room for speaking events in the Connelly Center — was packed an hour before the event's scheduled start, with students sitting on the floor, standing in the doorway and venturing the different broadcast locations on campus to view the talk in real time, if not in real life. The conversation started with her life story and ventured into the movement as Burke saw it and how we can continue to work to make it intersectional.

'me too' was originally started in 2005, despite the viral hashtag taking off in 2016. The impact has been tremendously positive, with women and men who have survived sexual violence coming forward into the newly defined space to talk about their experiences. From blue collar women to high profile actors, people have come forward in force to stand up to sexual violence and demand a stop. Perhaps one of the most notable survivors who has become an avid supporter of the movement is Rose McGowan, who was one of the first women to come out and name Harvey Weinstein as an abuser. Weinstein is currently awaiting trial in June of 2019 and is confined to his homes in Connecticut and New York via ankle monitor. Burke says the experience of the hashtag going viral has opened her up to the different ways that people are, as she admits to having a sheltered life in the sense that the people who surrounded her were all like-minded. Seeing the different ways that people view the world and react to this movement has led to the need to move homes with her child and hire a security detail due to the number of death threats received. "There are no opposite sides on this, I'm talking about sexual violence and people's bodies being violated, what are you opposing?" Burke says to applause.

Despite the seemingly endless backlash from those who do not wish to understand the movement's core, Burke says that the stories of triumph from women who have been affected by the movement make it all worth it. "I meet a person every day who tells me about being able to talk about their experience," said Burke. "It is worth the amount of triumph that we've had. We have given millions of people safety, space and a sense of community that wasn't there before."

It's no secret that sexual assault is a problem on college campuses everyone. One in five women will be raped at some point in their life as will one in 71 men. This statistic is alarming and terrifying, bringing the reality of sexual violence home. Now, this statistic wasn't news to me: I am familiar with the effects and likelihood of sexual violence on college campus, as are many women and men around me. 'me too' gave survivors a space on the public screen to discuss their experiences and call for an end to sexual violence. Burke offered her opinion on how best to support friends who are survivors of sexual violence. When you get right down to it, what survivors feel is pain, and pain is a universal feeling, although the specificity of that pain is personal. Losing a father has a different effect for different people. Nevertheless, everyone has experienced pain and we all understand pain, grief and trauma. Burke explains that empathy is not about having the same experiences but demonstrating a sense of understanding towards the survivor. She suggests that the best way to support a survivor of sexual violence is to ask them what they need from you, as well as letting the answer be no if they say they don't need anything.

At the heart of it, this movement is not about calling out perpetrators but about providing a space for survivors to talk about their experiences. Burke emphasized that this is not a women's movement: it's a survivor's movement. She critiqued the way men are categorized within this movement is either as allies or perpetrators, never as survivors. Our job as allies and survivors is to engage men as allies and survivors and to work together to shift the permeating rape culture. Burke stated about the double standard of rape culture, "two people had sex, only one of them came out a slut. That's interesting." She commented on the role of media telling men they are in danger of being "me tooed," which is absolutely not true. We are all in danger until we change the problematic culture that pits men and women against each other instead of men and women against abusers and rapists. Rape culture effects everyone and is pervasive in our media and our speech, contributing to violence and allowing violence to happen more easily.

With all this in mind, I thought of my own experiences and the way I have thought about sexual violence. The question came to mind: where does forgiveness come into play? Burke explained that forgiveness is a personal thing, however, she believes the first step is forgiveness of yourself. Forgiveness is not prescriptive, and it is not owed to anyone but yourself. If you are a survivor of sexual assault or sexual violence, please be kind to yourself. The 'me too' movement is more than just a hashtag, it's about starting a conversation to end sexual violence and hold perpetrators accountable for their actions. As Burke put it, "I talk about ending sexual violence because I believe sexual violence can end." It can, and we can be the generation to do so. If you or a loved one is a survivor of sexual violence, please seek out service available to you to help you begin the healing process. And, in case my language has been too coded, #metoo.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

5 Couples Get Real About Canceling Their Dream Weddings Because Of COVID-19

"It definitely reinforced that as long as we have each other, we can make it through anything together."

Courtesy of Georgia & Mike Bernstein

There isn't one person the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hasn't affected. While COVID-19 is risking everyone's physical health, it's also destroying the world's economy and personal finances, weakening mental health, wreaking havoc on education... and, well, the list goes on.

Among the many things being impacted is love.

Keep Reading... Show less

A Couple's Wedding In Peru Was Postponed By COVID-19, But A Lifetime Of Love Is Worth The Wait

"We'd prefer to wait and have the wedding that both of us have always thought of."

Courtesy of Rory Semple

During their first semester at Instituto de Empresa (IE Business School) while working on graduate degrees in Madrid, Spain, soon-to-be-newlyweds Rory and Gigi met when they were placed in a workgroup together — and the rest was history. Now, four years after their relationship began, the couple's fall plans to get married in Perú, where Gigi is originally from, have since been postponed by COVID-19.

Though things haven't always been easy for the pair because of immigration, starting a skincare business together, and now, canceling their dream wedding because of the pandemic, they have always worked together as a team (maybe we should all be in a workgroup with our future spouses).

Keep Reading... Show less

A Bumble Couple's Wedding Was Canceled By COVID-19, But Nothing Could Come Between This Perfect Match

"The whole purpose of all the stress and time and tears was that we love each other and that was all that mattered."

Courtesy of Shanna and Kaihla

Shortly after Kaihla's sister made her a dating profile on Bumble (despite her fear of being catfished), she matched with Shanna, and their chemistry was quickly undeniable. So much so that only a month and a half into dating, Shanna told her best friend "I think I'm going to marry her," and eventually, the nonprofit worker and elementary PE teacher duo proved this to be true.

In the fourth episode of a new docuseries called "Pandemic Weddings" by SoulPancake, the couple opens up about how they met, the difficulties of canceling a non-refundable wedding of their dreams (that took a year and a half to plan), as well as the pain of having family members who didn't support their marriage use the pandemic as a convenient excuse not to come.

Keep Reading... Show less
Bobbie Hall

This fall was my boyfriend and I's two-year anniversary! In the past for special occasions, we've typically gone out for a movie and dinner or just did something fun in general. However, in the year of COVID, we didn't really feel safe doing something like that.

Instead, we wanted to try something new that kept us significantly more socially distanced. Luckily, I found a TikTok trend a few months ago that gave me the perfect idea! The Target TikTok trend blew up all over for couples and friends alike. It seemed like a fun activity for us but also a good way to get each other gifts that we might not have thought about.

Keep Reading... Show less

If there's one thing everyone's talking about right now, it's voting — in real life, on social media, and yes, even on dating apps.

And rightfully so! Because is there really anything sexier than someone who cares about using their voice to be the change they want to see? In my opinion, no... not much, honestly.

Keep Reading... Show less
Tai Adaya

Any medium- to dark-skinned woman knows how difficult it can be to find the right SPF. Most mass-market SPF products are catered to lighter skin tones, and the potent UV-blocking titanium dioxide and zinc oxide have a way of leaving an unflattering white or grey cast on the skin.

Keep Reading... Show less

10 Fall Fashion Trends Every Stylish Closet Needs This 2020 — Here Are Options For EVERY Budget

Whether you're on a budget or willing to splurge, you can attain the perfect fall wardrobe with these pieces!


Even if the only time you're leaving the house is to go to the grocery store, I'm a firm believer in getting dressed up to make yourself feel better. With these trends, your Insta feed (and followers) will be thanking you.

Keep Reading... Show less

We finally got a more in-depth look into the upcoming Disney+ Marvel series 'WandaVision' during the 2020 Emmy Awards. Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany revive their roles as Wanda Maximoff and Vision from the Marvel Cinematic Universe in this brand new trailer.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Talked To Nikki Pebbles About PCOS-Friendly Workouts, And Low-Impact Is The Key

Hormone health impacts everything, including the workouts that are best for you.


Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) deal with a lot of uncertainty in their life. Between hormonal ups and downs, unpredictable weight gain, painful cyst ruptures, and infertility worries, their bodies are often under a lot of stress! A common symptom of PCOS is having a hard time losing weight — many women find themselves frustrated (or in pain) from traditional workout plans.

I sat down with Nikki Pebbles, a certified personal trainer and group fitness coach, to talk about the kind of workouts that are best for women who are dealing with PCOS.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments