#MeToo founder Tarana Burke has launched a new hashtag in an effort to get people to vote in the 2020 election, unveiling the hashtag #MeTooVoter on Tuesday, Oct. 15.
The hashtag is a response to the frustration felt by activists due to the fact that issues of sexual violence and harassment have been almost completely absent from the presidential debates and campaign trail. Tuesday also happens to be the same day as the fourth Democratic presidential debate, and while Burke said that she hopes the next debate will include a question about sexual violence, she does not expect it to come up this evening.
"You can't have 12 million people respond to a hashtag in this country and they not be constituents, taxpayers and voters," Burke said in an interview with 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."
She added that she has not yet heard from any of the 2020 candidates and is considering a town hall around the issue of sexual violence to hear more from the presidential hopefuls about their thoughts.
In an op-ed for TIME earlier this month, Burke pointed out that sexual assault survivors are voters too and wondered why the candidates have yet to address the issue.
"It was a consciousness-stirring moment, but it’s not enough to create awareness. What matters is what we do next," she wrote. "We, as survivors, aren’t just people looking for services. We are a constituency looking for change. We are working people, taxpayers and consumers who push through our trauma every day, despite being triggered and erased by a world that tells us our healing isn’t important."
Burke originally started the Me Too campaign in 2006, and on Oct. 15, 2017, actor Alyssa Milano asked her followers on Twitter to reply "me too" if they had ever been sexually harassed or assaulted, sparking the hashtag.
"Candidates have a responsibility to address the rampant sexual violence that permeates all of society’s systems and structures, including government," Burke wrote in her op-ed. "Sexual violence is a national problem that deserves a national response. If we are invested in the outcome of this movement that we’ve built, then we must ensure that it remains part of the conversation."0comments
"With no presidential candidate that seems willing to truly and publicly grapple with this bipartisan issue, we must once again raise our voices," she continued. "We must demand that the men and women who want to represent us in the White House and other political offices speak directly to and respond to our needs. And we must be clear that we are ready to vote for accountability in 2020. We deserve a country that values our safety, since its health and prosperity depends on our well-being."
Photo Credit: Getty / Michael Loccisano