The woman behind the MeToo movement has said the campaign against sexual violence and harassment has become “unrecognisable” to her, more than a decade after she founded it.
Tarana Burke said media backlash surrounding the campaign, which has shed light on numerous cases of sexual abuse in Hollywood, government and beyond, framed the movement as a witch hunt.
Speaking at the TEDWomen event in California, she said: “Suddenly a movement to centre survivors of sexual violence is being talked about as a vindictive plot against men.
“Victims are heard and then vilified.”
Burke launched the campaign in 2006, spurred on by a will to do something about the sexual violence she saw in her community.
The #MeToo phrase took off online and offline last year as allegations of sexual abuse were made against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
The activist stressed the importance of the movement getting back to its purpose, as she said she felt it had neglected those it was set up to support.
“This is a movement about the one in four girls and the one in six boys who are sexually abused every year, and who carry those wounds into adulthood,” she told the audience.
She said her vision for the movement was “part of a collective vision to see a world free of sexual violence. I believe we can build that world. Full stop.”
Citing the polarising appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the US Supreme Court after he denied allegations of sexual assault brought forward by three women, she said politicians seemed to be “pivoting away from the issue”.
She said: “This movement has been called a watershed moment but some days I wake up feeling that all the evidence points to the contrary.”
Ending her talk, she urged the the fight against “power and privilege” to continue as she said victims should not be made to relive their trauma by talking about it.