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Unbound summary

Tarana Burke

My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement

4.5 (141 ratings)
30 mins

What is Unbound about?

Unbound (2021) is a powerful memoir by Tarana Burke, the founder of the Me Too movement. Survivors of sexual abuse stay silent because of shame and victim-blaming around the abuse. The Me Too movement has created a remarkable community of survivors who support each other in challenging stigma and holding perpetrators to account. 

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    The #MeToo hashtag went viral, prompting millions of people to share experiences of sexual assault.

    Tarana Burke was awakened one Sunday morning in 2017 by her phone. It was exploding with messages. The hashtag #MeToo had gone viral on Twitter. Thousands of women were sharing their experiences of being sexually abused, and using the hashtag to signal solidarity.

    Burke was shocked. She had been building a movement to support survivors of sexual assault for years, using the slogan “Me Too” to represent how important empathy among survivors is for healing. But she’d had nothing to do with this Twitter storm. 

    The key message here is: The #MeToo hashtag went viral, prompting millions of people to share experiences of sexual assault. 

    The outpouring of reactions was a response to news stories about movie executive Harvey Weinstein’s decades of predatory and abusive behavior toward young actors – behavior that had gone unpunished for decades. Burke applauded the fact that Hollywood actors were stepping forward to share these experiences, and inspiring others to share theirs, too. 

    But she couldn’t help but notice that the vast majority of those women were white. Where were the voices of Black women, or Latinas? Burke had spent her career trying to create space for marginalized survivors of abuse. But now they seemed to be getting squeezed out of the movement she’d worked so hard to create.

    Burke was also concerned that women were being encouraged to share very raw experiences without any follow-up to check if they were OK, or support in processing those declarations.

    As the day went on, she kept checking Twitter. By then, there were hundreds of thousands of responses, all sharing experiences using the hashtag #MeToo. One particular response touched Burke especially. A woman shared an experience of being sexually assaulted in college. She’d never told anyone about it, she said. But seeing everyone else share experiences had made her realize she had nothing to be ashamed of. She wasn’t alone. 

    Burke started crying. The woman’s words moved her deeply, and made her realize that while she hadn’t chosen to turn her work into a viral hashtag, the Twitter outpouring did have the potential to help survivors, and spread the work she’d been developing her whole life. 

    #MeToo was reaching hundreds of thousands of people around the world, showing how deeply toxic and ubiquitous sexual abuse is, and showing survivors that they aren’t alone.

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    About the Author

    Tarana Burke is an activist and leader with three decades of experience working with youth and survivors of sexual assault. In 2017, she was named Time’s Person of the Year, and in 2018 was on the list of Time’s 100 Most Influential People. The book she coedited, You Are Your Best Thing, was an instant New York Times best seller.

    Who should read Unbound?

    • Followers of #MeToo who want to find out where it all began 
    • Survivors of sexual assault looking for an inspiring story about how to heal in spite of obstacles
    • Activists who want to learn more about Burke’s unique approach to fighting for social justice

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