In fall 2017, millions of Americans took to social media to share a simple but effective hashtag: #MeToo. The meaning was simple: I, too, am a survivor. I have been a victim of sexual assault or sexual harassment. I am speaking out and telling my story.
While sharing your story or even publicly identifying yourself as an abuse survivor is not for everyone, the #MeToo movement played an important role in changing the national conversation around sexual violence. It also led to many powerful men, from Harvey Weinstein to Charlie Rose to Al Franken, being held accountable for their actions because their victims were finally able to speak up and report their abuse.
Yet in many ways, the #MeToo movement didn’t change our society. This is particularly true when it comes to politics. If you follow politics, you will notice that the topic of domestic or sexual violence is rarely mentioned — despite the fact that it affects a substantial percentage of our population. The topic of gender-based violence has not been raised in the four Democratic presidential debates held to date.
Recently, #MeToo founder Tarana Burke unveiled a new hashtag to hold politicians accountable — #MeTooVoter. According to Ms. Burke, “You can’t have 12 million people respond to a hashtag in this country and they not be constituents, taxpayers, and voters. We need these candidates to see us as a power base.”
There are vast numbers of survivors and victims of gender-based violence in the United States. On average, there are 433,648 victims of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States. There are more than 10 million people subject to physical abuse by an intimate partner each year in the United States. Approximately 3.4 million individuals each year are stalked in the United States. According to a recent survey, 81% of women and 43% of men have experienced some form of sexual harassment.
There are tens or even hundreds of millions of survivors and victims of sexual and domestic violence and other forms of abuse in the United States — forming what could be a significant voting block. Perhaps more importantly, there are millions more Americans who believe that these types of abuse are wrong — and want to change our culture so that no person has to experience rape, domestic abuse, stalking, human trafficking, or any other form of gender-based violence ever again.
As we head into the 2020 election season, it is time for us to mobilize — not towards one candidate or a particular political party, but towards the issues that are important to us. Why isn’t anyone asking candidates about how they would stop sexual violence? Why aren’t candidates being asked about the link between domestic violence and mass shootings? Why aren’t we having more of a conversation about the issues that matter to millions of Americans?
We know that gender-based violence is just one of the many topics that matter when it comes to casting a vote. However, it is one that is routinely ignored in debates, stump speeches and interviews. We think that should change. These issues are important to us, and they have a serious impact on the type of culture that we are trying to build.
Join us in 2019, 2020 and beyond as we become #MeToo voters. Demand that candidates answer the hard questions — and shine a light on the issues that matter to YOU.