The arrest of Harvey Weinstein feels like the beginning of what justice should look like for his accusers. It’s also symbolic for survivors of sexual violence everywhere that a person of his stature has to answer for his actions. It provides hope for other people that they might have some recourse in their everyday lives. That’s one of the most powerful things about this moment.
I don’t think, however, that this is a moment to revel in how the mighty have fallen. It’s really about the power of community and the power of survivors of sexual violence raising their voices and standing together. It wasn’t one claim. It wasn’t one singular voice. It was a chorus of voices that started rising little by little and crescendoed into this massive chorus. It resulted in what we saw today. And let’s not forget to say the names of those who came forward as much as we speak Weinstein’s name: Lucia Evans, Annabella Sciorra, Asia Argento, Mira Sorvino, Paz de la Huerta, Lupita Nyong’o, Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan and the dozens and dozens more are the real heroines.
It is easy to connect what happened to Harvey Weinstein to the Me Too movement, but this movement is more about that chorus of voices — those survivors — than it is about the Harvey Weinsteins of the world. It’s about making sure the chorus of voices is always heard and seen and listened to, more so than it is about targeting anybody or having an agenda that’s about taking on powerful men.
What this case, as well as the Cosby case, also does is mark the dawn of a new understanding and a new way to talk to and engage survivors. Ronan Farrow, my friend, the journalist, often says that his work is not about believing all survivors but listening to all survivors. That is a really salient point. At the very least, we should be listening to all claims and taking seriously all claims of sexual violence and giving them as much credence as possible, as much interrogation as possible. When that happens, this can be the result.
The story that [Farrow] wrote [for The New Yorker] and what Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey wrote for The New York Times wasn’t about them having the agenda of taking down Harvey Weinstein. They had the agenda of digging into the claims of numerous women who had similar accusations about one person. There was a story there to be told, and there were people who were telling it who were worthy of listening to. That’s what their journalism showed us. When you listen to survivors, we can maybe have an outcome like we saw today.
Lastly, it’s also really important for us to take a step back and not just look at the individuals. It’s not just about Harvey Weinstein or Bill Cosby. It’s about these men in positions of power who abuse their power and their privilege and use it to strip away the humanity of people. What we’re also seeing is not just the fall of individuals; we’re starting to chip away at the power structures that protect them by speaking our truth. These women who are standing up are literally what speaking truth to power looks like in action.
— As told to Ricardo Lopez
Tarana Burke is the founder of the original Me Too movement, begun in 2006.