One in every four women and one in every six men will experience sexual violence by the time they are 18. The #MeToo movement seeks to bring justice to the survivors of sexual violence.

Tarana Burke, founder of the #MeToo movement, gave a lecture and answered public questions at Missouri State on March 10.

In her lecture, Burke talked about the Harvey Weinstein case and how it related to the movement. She says when we focus on the individuals who have been accused of sexual violence, it portrays the abusers as the victims.

“We have to stop throwing pebbles at perpetrators, and start taking the building blocks of these systems down so we can undermine sexual violence,” she said.

Katie Chandler, an MSU student that attended the lecture, said she agreed with what Burke said about separating the abusers from the movement. 

“What they did is bad,” she said, “[We need to] talk about the survivors and how their lives have been changed, how women have lost their careers because of that one man.”

“I need you to divorce the #MeToo movement from Harvey Weinstein,” said Burke. “It is not about him, and his case happens to be big and in the middle of media storms. But if we keep marrying #MeToo to Harvey Weinstein, it will be no progress in the movement.”

Since this is the first major celebrity sexual assault case that has led to the persecution of the abuser, Burke says this shows other victims of sexual violence that they can seek legal redress through the criminal justice system.

“If he had not been found guilty, there’s still millions of people who are dealing with sexual violence unrelated to that who we have to respond to, who we have to think about, who we should hold a vision for moving forward, and it can’t be connected to Weinstein or R Kelly or any of these people.” 

Burke believes if it were not for the hashtag, many victims of sexual violence would not have been compelled to come forward.

Burke became a civil rights activist at the age of 14 when she started volunteering for the 21st Century Youth Leadership Movement and worked there after graduating college. After meeting several young girls through her job who had experienced sexual assault, “it became crystal clear that (their vision about social justice) needed to expand to include sexual violence.”

Burke realized sexual assault survivors did not have a place to handle their healing, so the #MeToo movement “was about building something so survivors can have a safe space to empathize with one another, to create community, to be seen, to be heard, to be believed.”

“It’s not something that happens on TV or happens once every couple years,” Chandler said “This is something that happens every day, especially on a college campus.”