Tarana Burke: Cavill’s bad take on #MeToo was ‘what so many men think’


#MeToo began last year as a social media call to arms in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal in Hollywood. The hashtag movement is the offspring of the larger Me Too movement that was founded by Tarana Burke in 2006. Tarana’s life work has been to create a better world for survivors of sexual violence, both with Me Too and her non-profit Just Be, Inc. When “Me Too” was co-opted for the hashtag movement on social media, Tarana, who found out on Facebook the term was being used independent of the movement she’d started, embraced it and quickly aligned her work with the hashtag, calling it “empowermental empathy.” Together, Me Too has been able to expand the fight much farther. Tarana’s been recognized by Time Magazine twice since and remained visible from the Golden Globes red carpet to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony last week. Jezebel interviewed Tarana on the one year milestone of #MeToo blowing up. Tarana is optimistic about their work building momentum but cautions us that the conversation needs to stay on the needs of the survivors and get away from the perpetrators.

On the past year and the popularity of #MeToo: This has been a year for the record books, right? I think that, certainly, from last year to this year, the level of awareness has grown exponentially. So I think it’s two things: on the one hand, there’s been a great shift in the way we talk about sexual violence. And the fact that we talk about it at all. The conversation about sexual violence, in general, is expanding. We have never really had a national conversation about this. I think that’s probably the biggest change. But on the flip side, there hasn’t been enough of the right kind of conversation, if you will. There hasn’t been enough conversation about the needs of survivors, of what people actually need. Solutions. It’s been mostly about perpetrators. That has been really difficult, I think.
But I could not have asked for, I could not have paid for, the kind of publicity and exposure that has been brought to this work. So I take the good with the bad.

On #MeToo becoming short-hard in the media: They have definitely watered it down. I had a really interesting conversation with a male celebrity who referenced somebody as being “me too-ed.” In his defense, he wasn’t saying it to poke fun at the movement itself. But when we had a private conversation about it—I was disappointed because I felt this person understood based on conversations we’d had—he asked me how it was offensive. He was surprised I took offense to it. I said, you know, the problem here is that it takes away from what the words are for. But it also has this connotation as if there’s a target on a person’s back or a way that people get entangled. Like they’re being ensnared in something: Oh, they got me too-ed. All of that makes it harder to do our work.

On Henry Cavill’s #MeToo comments: I mean that was just a dumb comment. But the important part is that it is reflective of what so many men think and say now. Because they jump to the part that’s like, Oh well now we’ve got to act different. All these women are super sensitive. It just highlights how the media talks about #MeToo.

On not letting the media dictate the narrative We cannot as a movement depend on the media to catch up with us before we decide that we’re legitimate. The way that those things live side by side is that they just do.

On what’s next for Me Too: We know the reality, we know the statistics, we know the community, we know the landscape. It’s up to us to strategize about how we move forward despite the fact that the media is saying one thing. Because the media will come along, eventually, at some point. People who are thoughtful and who really committed to the fullness of the issue will pick it up and run and help us get traction.

[From Jezebel]

I could take several lessons from Tarana’s book on checking my ego for the sake of the work. I appreciate how she phrased her response about Cavill. His were stupid comments, but the message we should take is actually the larger context of how he looked at it. Not only is it the knee-jerk reaction for many men’s thinking, it also speaks to how the media is presenting the message. In this and other interviews, it is clear that Tarana’s interest lies in the needs of the survivors. And yet, that’s never the story, is it? The story is always the atrocities of the attackers and it wasn’t until I read this interview that I understood the difference.

I am inspired by Tarana. I’m inspired by how gently she refuses to let someone else control the narrative. I’m inspired that she is so dedicated to her cause that she openly embraces those who, unwittingly or outright, try to erase her contributions. And I am especially inspired by her patience and grace. Not only will I frame my discussion of Me Too and sexual violence differently, I know what to listen for when speaking with others.




Photo credit WENN Photos

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50 Responses to “Tarana Burke: Cavill’s bad take on #MeToo was ‘what so many men think’”

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  1. OriginalRose says:

    Awesome lady

  2. Rapunzel says:

    The worst part is the women that think like the men. Last night, one of my Facebook friends who is a Trumpster (that I haven’t unfriended because she’s a neighbor and it would cause problems) posted yet another post about how men need to be worried about false accusations. Her daughter responded to it and talked about how not being believed was the reason that she never came forward. She then laid into her mother saying that it breaks the heart every time her mother post one of these posts. All the mother could say it was “you should come forward when it happened” and “I’m sorry that I hurt you but I just want people to tell the truth.” It broke my heart that this poor girl who suffered a traumatic assault felt like her own mother was harming her and adding to her pain. And I was the only one to post a message in support of her.

    • Darla says:

      My god this is an awful story. How could you be the only one supporting the daughter? Her facebook friend list must have been compiled in hell.

    • BlueSky says:

      This is terrible. So brave of her daughter to come forward with her story. I hope she has support from others.

      As for being Facebook friends with your neighbor, you can always unfollow them. Just go to their page and click on “Following”
      It will ask if you want to unfollow.That way they are still on your friend list but none of her posts show up on your feed. I’ve done that with a couple of people.

      • Betsy says:

        Dunno about Rapunzel’s nieghborhood, but lots of neighborhoods are very active on Facebook about neighborhood meetings and get togethers. If she unfollows, she’ll miss that stuff, no?

    • Izzy says:

      A man has less than a one percent chance of being falsely accused of sexual assault. Her daughter, like every other woman in this country, already had at least a 25 percent chance of being sexually assaulted, and heartbreakingly, she was. This woman also has those same odds. I hope that dimwitted woman sleeps well at night. 😡

      You should just unfollow her on FB, or mute them. It’s what I did with a couple of people, and things are more peaceful for me personally when I check in (meaning I am less likely to have a ragestroke).

      • enya says:

        I was going to write the same thing: you can “unfollow” friends. That way you don’t see any of their posts in your timeline, but you remain friends (and thus avoid potential drama). I do this with anyone who sends me a friend request but whose Fb page focuses more on personal stuff instead of the avocation we share (the only reason I am ON Facebook).


      • enya says:

        Sorry–meant this as response to the post above.

    • Some chick says:

      Right? She IS telling the truth, and all she is getting for it is grief.

      There are numerous theories on why/how this works. It does, tho. So, it is something the culture has to get rid of.

      And,by “our culture” I mean everyone. As Eve Ensler says, we’re not raping ourselves.

      #cassandra (greek mythology – she speaks the truth but isn’t believed.)

    • Mia4s says:

      My god, that woman is garbage. Spreading this nonsense at the expense of her own daughter?!? Absolute trash and poison.

    • Jessica says:

      This story reminds me of a mixed raced guy who posted about his white mother being a bigoted trumpster. He had tried to talk to her and explain how it hurt in and impacted his life to no avail. In the end I think he broke all contact with her.

      • duchess of hazard says:

        Panama Jackson of The Root, I think. I read that story with increasing horror, for real.

      • Dee Kay says:

        Thanks for recommending and posting that essay by Panama Jackson. It is helping me come to terms with the fact that I think I need to cut ties with someone in family who is an elder, whom I have known and loved all of my life. He is my sister’s father-in-law and even though we’re not related by blood, he has like a second father to me. He also voted for Turmp. The last time we spoke, he actually defended Nazis to me. Not like alt-right 2018 neo-Nazis in the U.S., but actual WWII Nazis. I don’t think I can have contact with that person anymore, though it makes me sad.

    • Alarmjaguar says:

      That is heartbreaking and awful!

    • Rapunzel says:

      To add to the story, when mom told daughter she should have gone to to the cops, daughter pointed out that she really had nothing to go to the cops with. She’d been assaulted , but not actually raped. There were scratches and bruises but as she pointed out to her mom people were just going to question where those bruises came from . She literally pointed out to her mom that her mom’s on mentality was the kind of mentality that she knew she would face when she went to the cops. Which is why she didn’t go . Mom didn’t seem to really understand that . She was just like I’m sorry I hurt your feelings . People need to be honest she says. Meanwhile she’s sharing posts from women who are talking about getting their sons body cams to protect them, because men are at war with evil radical women who are out to get them. SMDH.

      • Betsy says:

        Oh my god, can you reach out to the daughter IRL? She should know there are good people like you out there.

      • Derrière says:

        They understand. But whenever they are forced to confront evidence to disprove their flawed ideologies they decide to “does not compute” and spill some BS talking point. Case in point, the “I’m sorry that you feel like I hurt you, but I think you still should have talked to the police.” Which brings us back to 0 with no one having learned anything.

        That are they devolve into a racist, mysogynistic tirade.

      • Rapunzel says:

        Unfortunately, I don’t actually know the daughter. But she liked my comment. So she saw it. I pointed out to mom that the truth is men are more likely to be attacked than falsely accused and that women who go the cops immediately are often not believed anyway, so going to the cops first thing really isn’t that helpful. Mom has not responded since the daughter’s last post and my reply.

        I spoke up on this same person’s FB post about the immigrant children in cages and got told by some of her friends (not her) that I was not considering all the facts and being self righteous and egotistical for “pretending to be so holier than thou.”

        I follow this person only because she would notice if I didn’t and get pissed off and cause me more stress than her posts do.

      • North of Boston says:

        Yeah, that woman doesn’t realize that in the realm of possibilities, getting sexually assaulted (especially a woman getting sexually assaulted) is much much much more common than anyone being falsely accused of sexually assaulting someone.

        If someone is worried about their young sons being falsely accused of sexual assault, they should a) treat all people with respect, b) treat their sons to treat all people with respect and c) talk to their sons about consent, and about how other people are not objects – that other people have agency and hopes and dreams and lives and aren’t just things to “get some” from or grope and laugh at, and talk to them about what respect and consent means/looks like in social situations – when partying, when walking down the street, at clubs, on dates.

        Doing that will most likely reduce the kid’s chances of ACTUALLY sexually assaulting someone, and along the way will also most likely reduce to almost nil the chances of him being falsely accused of sexually assaulting someone.

    • lucy2 says:

      I am so sorry for that daughter. This has to be such a painful time for her in general, and to have her own mother being fighting against her, I can’t even imagine. Thank you for posting a message of support to her. I don’t know if you are close with her or not, but it may mean a lot to her, if you are comfortable doing so, to reach out to her privately let her know she always has your support and you are there if she needs you.

    • LahdidahBaby says:

      Wow, that was a powerful moment. I’m surprised the mother took it fairly well, considering the poison she has been spewing. I feel for her daughter.

  3. Maya says:

    Wonderful lady

  4. Jessica says:

    I am so inspired by Tarana too. She is such a thoughtful brilliant activist I honestly think she needs to be championed more by sites like this in order to embolden everyday women and magnify her voice!
    Props for making a post about her.

    • Esmom says:

      Agreed. She is amazing and inspiring. Putting her head down and getting the work done with such grace.

  5. Mia4s says:

    She really is brilliant. And her point about Cavill’s comments is so true. He deserved the smack down 100%; but he is faaaaaar from the only man (or woman sadly) thinking that way. He just happened to be stupid enough to say it publicly. Vigilance is so vital going forward.

  6. Solace says:

    I sincerely wish Tarana Burke is nominated for a Nobel prize. She is exemplary.

    • Jessica says:

      I was thinking that with the recent nobel prize it’s one of the reasons I was kind of mad she didn’t get all the credit due to various Hollywood actresses positing themselves as the face of the movement. The movement has a bigger chance of being succeeding with a serious spokesperson like Tarana imo.

  7. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    I want her grace.

  8. adastraperaspera says:

    This is the kind of leadership that makes a difference.

  9. Tanesha86 says:

    She’s simply amazing and I’d rather see her lead this movement than the people who co-opted it 10+ years after. I hope she continues to get more coverage and that we see a shift in how the media covers this movement.

  10. Crystal says:

    I missed the Henry Cavill comments originally and read the link this morning… just came here to say eff Henry Cavill- what a misogynistic loser. I have never used the term “cancelled” about someone before but to me he is cancelled and I will go out of my way not to see anything he is in. I am DONE with these a-holes who act like they can’t tell the difference between flirting and raping. I guess the silver lining is that at least these jerks are publicly exposing the type of people they are so women know who to steer clear of.

    • shirurusu says:

      I totally agree, at the beginning when the MeToo movement started I tried to be nice and explain to a few guys I was working with what the movement was really about (they were of the idiotic opinion that women only file sexual assault charges at their work place to get a raise…). But by now I’ve totally lost my patience with those kind of asshats, it’s like, really you don’t know the difference between rape and flirting huh? You better stay at home then boyfriend because you’re definitely gonna get yourself in trouble! Too bad about Henry Cavill but he was mostly only good in the Tudors.

  11. Veronica S. says:

    Honestly, all Cavill’s comments reveal is how casually misogynistic many men are. If you respected women and their bodies (or any gendered body), you’d never take offense to it. There are men who engaged in #MeToo (as #HimToo, until the alt-right managed to destroy the meaning of THAT tag and silenced male survivors), so this wasn’t a purely one-sided issue. Gendered, definitely, but more as a reflection of the power structures in our society. The real reason anyone would be scared of it is if they know they are one of the abusers of that power.

    Also, f*ck me, she is so brilliant and thoughtful in her approach to it. It makes me mad that her name has been pushed aside for white celebs to jump in and profit.

  12. Milla says:

    This woman is amazing. Smart. Sharp. Not selling any crap. Please, Rose and the rest: learn from Tarana do not try to be her, you will fail. Me too is not some crazy Hollywood idea, it’s a real movement, it’s education, it’s conversation, it is the future.

  13. lucy2 says:

    Thank you for highlighting her here today. I really respect her attitude, and her lack of ego – her focus is truly on the cause. I’m so glad she’s out there day after day, fighting for what’s right.

    “We cannot as a movement depend on the media to catch up with us before we decide that we’re legitimate.” My God, this is so true.

  14. Electric Tuba says:

    Isn’t Cavil the one that was dating a girl under the age of 21 just recently? Had a college age girlfriend who was living on a campus? He’s trash. His acting is trash and his stupid mustache is trash. Superman is trash. These super hero movies got people thinking someone going to come save you. THEY ARENT. It’s up to us. The women. Not you Rose, you can sit all the way down we’ve got real work to do and we can’t afford a babysitter to keep you from stabbing us in the front and back while we try to get chit done. Oh my god I’m so angry.

  15. hmmm says:

    What a queen.

  16. Pineapple says:

    Hectate thanks so much for this article. I haven’t read enough about this intelligent, empathetic woman. She seems so fantastic.

  17. Maddie says:

    This reminds me of the argument I got in with my cousin. He thinks that the #MeToo movement has gone too far and now men can’t even look at women. He worries that his daughter will grow up in a world that men and women can’t look at each other. Ugh massive eye roll. Shouldn’t he be worried about what men could do and get away with to his daughter? It’s ashamed because we usually agree on stuff – politically. He’s against trump and all that, so I was really taken aback with his comments.

    • Anon33 says:

      Men TRULY believe they are entitled to sex from us. Full stop, this is what they’re taught, this is what they think, and this is what groups of men reinforce in each other. Some of them cannot twist their brains around the fact that sometimes sexual attention is NOT EFFING WANTED.
      My husband moved to this state in his sophomore year of HS and fell into a weird crowd before finding the right friends. He deliberately stopped hanging out with that group of guys because of the way they talked about women. He said he was shocked and disgusted, as he was raised to respect everyone’s bodily autonomy (mom is an RN) and they would literally discuss forcing girls to do things they didn’t want to, and laugh about it.
      God This story still makes me sad.

  18. Alyse Leitao says:

    Have to admit that I’m annoyed about the phrase of people getting “me-too’d” or having a “me-too moment” – I think the overuse is watering down some of the seriousness of certain situations when the term “sexual assault” or stronger should be used. Eg. “In another victory for Me Too” was something I heard about Cosby, and it pissed me off because I felt like it was a sugarcoating, and instead the media should’ve said those words: drugged & raped. Sometimes we need to hear those ugly words to remind us that while sexual harassing isn’t a good thing in general – we don’t want to lump the “me too” of lewd comments and full on drugging/raping together.

  19. charbar says:

    We need a #metoo for the men have committed these crimes against women. We need to sort out and understand the ugly why (mob mentality, boys club, horniness, peer pressure, male supremacy, etc) boys/men can commit these actions. We need to have a documentary or dialogue about what contributes to men making these choices to harm women because one man often creates many victims. Can we stop the behavior of some men through deeply understanding how he got there in the first place? Hearing their personal stories in droves would be a start.

    • North of Boston says:

      While, yeah, that could be interesting, just as it could be interesting to peel back the layers from people who seem absolutely compelled to defend harassment/abuse/sexual assault, it sort of gets away from Tarana Burke’s point, no?

      There has already been SO MUCH attention on the men who have committed sexual misconduct, and maybe it’s time to get the focus back on the victims.

  20. Brian Brown says:

    I wonder if she has a stylist