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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  February 21, 2020 4:30am-5:01am GMT

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in germany, tens of thousands have attended vigils for the nine people shot dead by a far—right extremist in the western town of hanau. many were immigrants from turkey — one was romanian. the president has called on germans to unite against hatred, racism and violence. police are investigating whether the gunman had accomplices. president trump has said he'd love to see his former advisor roger stone exonerated — he's been sentenced to forty months in prison for witness tampering and lying to congress about russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. the irish prime minister, leo varadkar, has resigned after the first session of the new parliament. he'll remain acting prime minister until a new government is formed. coalition talks are deadlocked. his party, fine gael, finished third in the elections earlier this month, behind the centrists fianna fail and the left—wing sinn fein.
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now on bbc news, hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk. i'm stephen sackur. in our warp speed online culture, today's trending topic is often tomorrow's forgotten hashtag. not so with me too, an expression of understanding and solidarity from women to women driven by a determination to expose the truth about sexual violence. well, my guest today, tarana burke, first coined the phrase, me too, long before the harvey weinstein case. and she continues to reach out to marginalised women and girls. but what difference has that me too
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movement made to the bigger picture? tarana burke, welcome to hardtalk. thank you for having me. i want to begin with those two words, "me too". it was a phrase, as i said, you coined it long before harvey weinstein, before the me too went viral. did you feel, in a way, you lost control of that phrase? well, ithought, you know, in the first days when me too went viral, it was very nerve—racking for a person like me. i was not known, i wasn't in the spotlight, and so i thought that it would be lost. i thought its original cause would be lost,
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and its purpose. and i think it took a very, very short period of time for me to realise that this was sort of an evolution of what i started, and not necessarily it being lost. so i shifted quickly from the nerves to sing opportunity. the actress who, i think, put the hashtag on it and originated that sort of 2017 viral phenomenon, was alyssa milano... yes. ..and she said she wasn't aware that you had used this phrase, with regard to your activism on the sexual violence issue, for years beforehand. did you then talk to her to find out exactly what happened and how she came upon this phrase? yes, she reached out to me. she was made aware, pretty quickly after she put the tweet out, and she reached out to me within 24—48 hours to say, "i didn't know, i'm so excited to meet you."
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and then she tweeted it out to her followers that this is the person who originated the phrase and she put my, you know, our website up and things like that. and then we started a friendship. mm, because, the big difference, i suppose, both post the weinstein allegations hitting the newspapers in october 2017, many of the women who spoke out were really pretty high—profile, well—known, well—connected women. your work, of course, which we can trace back to the 1990s, was mostly with disadvantaged women in communities very, very far from the public eye. so there was a real fundamental difference. did you, in a sense, feel that your point was being lost there? so, like i said, it was an evolution of it. and so my point was to support survivors. we started out with black and brown girls in the deep south and the united states. and those girls had gone through very similar things to the grown women who had come forward in the weinstein case. and so the thing, the beauty,
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i think, and the magic of me too is that it's a unifier in that way, and it's where survivors find community. and so i — definitely, the mainstream media kept the focus on the actresses and hollywood and that idea, but at its core, the women who came forward were really no different than those girls who i served in the communities ten years before. well, interesting, the only difference, really, is that, frankly, wider society seemed to engage more... 0h, absolutely. ..with the experiences of their well—connected and the high profile than they did with the sort of voices you were reporting on. absolutely. where there might be a good deal of resentment on your part. no, let me tell you what i feel. this is not resentment. this is what i've experienced. and i think most people who look like me have experienced a similar thing. we have been socialised to respond to and to pay attention to
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rich, white, wealthy, famous people in general, and particularly these women. but i don't blame the women for that. i blame the media for that. i blame the media who will constantly... you know, these women are survivors and they came forward to tell their stories. and even though other people — if you think about it, the people who made me too go viral won't those people. the people that made me too go viral were everyday folks, millions from around the world who got online and told their truth. and we've built this movement on the backs of those people, but we don't get to hear those people's stories. indeed. and before we get to sort of the fallout from the weinstein case, i do want to actually want to focus on the work you've been doing for years... wonderful. ..because you have this capacity, it seems, to sit down with women and, indeed, girls as well, and get them to discuss and listen to their stories in ways that others haven't, and you open them up and get their truth. how do you do it? what cost you know, i don't think that it's like magic. i think there's so many people, and, again, this is not just for women and girls, people who have survived
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sexual violence in general — so many of us are shamed into silence that there aren't very many spaces where we can open up, where we can tell our stories, where we can reveal our truth — that when you provide that opportunity or create that community, people eager to do that. 0nce me too went viral, i mean, what i saw when me too went viral is the same thing i saw when i went into community centres and did workshops, you know, and with smaller numbers of people, is that people want to be seen, they want to be heard and they want be believed. you're a new yorker. iam. but i think one of the most shocking experiences you had, just from recollecting a memory you had of it was sitting down with a bunch of girls in selma, alabama... yes. ..and i think you asked them to raise their hands
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if they had had an experience of sexual violence. and you could not believe how many in that room... so we never ask people to raise their hands publicly. let me tell you how it happens. because we don't want people to out themselves if they're not comfortable, we ask folks to write it down. and so in this instance, we'd given all the girls a sheet of paper after the workshop and said, you know, "give us three things you learned at this workshop. "and, if you're so inclined, right me too at the bottom "of the page if you're a survivor and if you want help." and so we collected those papers and went back to the hotel room, and when i dumped them out and began to read one after another after another after another, it was shocking how many, really, the majority of the room had an experience with sexual violence. and it's something that i had seen over and over again. but, you know, seeing it in writing, in paper wasjust... ..it was definitely shocking. do you think it would be pretty much the same experience today? absolutely. so, in that sense, we're going to talk a lot what me too has achieved, but it hasn't changed that much on that sort of systemic structural level. no, but you also —
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we're dealing with something that is centuries old. we're dealing with an epidemic that has been affecting people around the world since the beginning... i mean, is biblical, right. and so there's no way that a hashtag going viral two years ago is going to dismantle structures and systems in such a short period of time. what we've done is we've opened up the space to talk about it in ways that we haven't been able to talk about it and to say this is not about individuals, this is about systems and about structures and this is the pathway forward. do you think there is a race issue here as well? that the voices of black girls and women are not heard in way that the voices of white females in the united states are? oh, i think it's a race issue, i think it's a gender issue, i think it's a sexuality issue. i think marginalised people, as usual, are the last voices that we hear. and so you have stories about black and brown women, stories about queer and trans people, about disabled folks, that never rise to the top, that never get the attention. so coming back to the weinstein case, and i should make it quite
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clear that we're talking while the jury is deliberating. we do not know which way the verdict is going to go in the weinstein case. yeah. but nonetheless, it has raised all sorts of interesting questions. here's what one black woman activist, whom i know you know very well, april rain, has said about the weinstein case. she said, "white women have not been as supportive "as they could have been of women of colour, "and that is one lesson that we can take away from the fallout "from the whole harvey weinstein situation." do you sympathise with that? you know, i think that there's always been this schism between white feminists, black feminists, and particularly online. there was a fallout when me too went viral about it, and a lot of black women felt not seen and not heard in that moment because of this long history. and so i think there's a lot for white women and non—black women, non—women of colour...women who are...white women to learn about how to help
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amplify the voices of those who don't often get heard, which is women of colour, black women in particular. it does raise questions about the way in which the response has been targeted on personal stories. and it's notjust weinstein, because that hit the media in october 2017. after that, there were a host of other famous men who then faced allegations of, at the very least, inappropriate and sometimes outright sexually violent behaviours. yeah. but they were all told as sort of personal narratives. you followed those stories very closely, but your message appeared to be "let us not get too involved in the personnel,
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in the private, because this is a much deeper structural question." you know, at some point, and at the end of 2017, the beginning of 2018, i felt like i was playing whack—a—mole. every week, there would be a new accusation and a new person in the media and all of the attention would be on whoever this next person was. and, one, we would never hear about the survivor and what happened with the survivor or what happens in our lives, but we also didn't look at the systems around those people that allowed it to happen. right, we can talk about harvey weinstein ad nauseam, but we also have to talk about what are the structures that were in place that allowed a harvey weinstein to thrive? if you're going to talk about harvey weinsteins being successful, then we have to also talk about capitalism, right, because it's the love of money and the desire for people to have money and what he represented. the bottom line is people value those things more than they value the humanity of the women that he was really destroying their lives. it's about power. it's about power and it's about privilege. at the end of the day, these are the two things that we have to talk about dismantling. these are not individuals, it's the power and
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privilege that they hold. and i should say, as i've already indicated, we're speaking before the jury has returned a verdict — of course, harvey weinstein categorically denies all the charges he faces... i'm...yes. ..and that it's important that i put that out there at this particular point in the legal process. let us look at a few of the concrete steps that have been taken by a number of states in the united states over the last couple of years as me too notjust went viral, but became a major sort of social and cultural phenomenon. some states have banned nondisclosure agreements concerning cases of sexual harassment. other states have introduced new protections for workers, including protecting freelance and contract workers,
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not just staff employees. the time's up legal defense fund has been established, many millions of dollars have been funnelled to poorer and disadvantaged women who want to pursue, through law, their allegations of sexual violence. do these to you represent a real step change? 0h, absolutely. the thing that's happened... i mean, we have miles to go. but these things represent, one, that people are paying attention to the needs of survivors. for instance, the time's up legal defense fund is about making sure that women who could not get legal representation, couldn't afford it in the past so that they could fight some of the sexual harassment cases they have, now have that, and so that opens up a whole other corridor for people to pursue legal action. there are different steps that people can take, that organisations can take, that corporate america can take and governments can take. and so every bit that we chip away, every bit that we get is... ..i count that all as a victory for us. more will but tarana burke, the problem, in some ways, is that while you might achieve these significant, but relatively small victories, there is something much more overwhelming as a reality in the united states today. you have a president in the white house who we know, thanks to a leaked tape,
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has, in the past, carried out abusive sexual harassment. yeah. not only was he elected with the public knowing that, there is a real chance he may be re—elected. don't say that. laughs well, that's the political reality. i know. and surely that, in terms of what it says about the united states and the political culture and the attitudes towards these issues we're discussing today — that says something much more damning and depressing and negative than all of the little steps you're talking about. well, one, again, we have to count every step. we're talking about a monumental thing that we have to dismantle, but, yes, having somebody in the white house that's a self—proclaimed sexual predator is definitely... ..doesn‘t make you feel hopeful. but, you know, we started an initiative call me too voter this year at the second anniversary of me too going viral. and the reason why we did that is because, one, he didn't win by a large margin and there are millions of people
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in america who feel very strongly that we should have a different person in the white house, for several reasons, one of which is because of his past as a sexual predator. and me too voter is about people who have survived sexual violence being able to stand up and stand in their power and say that, "i'm notjust a victim, i'm a survivor and i'm a constituent." but isn't there a danger in your entering the political arena with your movement me too voter and other messages? because just looking at some survey evidence, you are really turning off a lot of white, male and largely republican voters. there's one extraordinary yougov sponsored survey recently which showed thatjust 37% of republican — self—styled republican men in the us today say that they are now likely to believe women in legal cases, which hinge upon the truth of allegations of sexual violence.
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i don't know that number would have been different before me too. well, it has actually gone down over the last couple of years. i think that... it was over 50% and now it's just 37% of republican men say they're inclined to believe women. i think that the issue we have around me too is that people don't understand what the movement is. they don't understand what our work is. and so numbers like this come from perceptions that come from the media. there's a perception because the media says this new person is guilty of this or this new person is accused of that and they keep honing in on the individual bad actors. it's one of the reasons why we want to shift the conversation and shift the narrative away from that. but all of america was able to look in on, for example, on the nomination process in front of senators of supreme courtjustice brett kavanaugh. every american was able to form their own view of that and, frankly, what people took away from it very much depended on their political perspective. you know, most republicans were absolutely sure
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that kava naugh deserved his place on the bench, while most democrats were equally convinced this was a man not fit to serve. yeah. it's polarised and it's become deeply political. i mean, i think the country right now is polarised. i think every topic — if you brought up climate change in america, it would be split down the middle by partisan, right. i think that we are in a moment in our country where every topic you bring up, people are going to divide... i have people who send us messages, who say, "i'm republican, i'm a trump supporter, and i was raped. "and i don't support your movement and i don't believe it." that they would even put aside their own trauma to side politically tells you just how divisive things are in our country, and i think that is about more so what's happening in the country than it is about me too. here's another way in which i wonder whether you've reflected on how the me too has evolved over the last couple of years,
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and that's — just a sense that, again, surveys reveal a sense of unease and uncertainty that particularly men have about what is acceptable and not acceptable in terms of behaviours with women, particularly in the workplace. for example, again, i'm going to quote to you survey evidence — 10% of both men and women say that they are now less willing to hire attractive women. 22% of men, 44% of women predicted that men would be more apt to exclude women from social interactions such as after work drinks. nearly one in three men thought that they would now be reluctant to have a one—on—one work meeting with a woman. why is this happening, do you think? it's because people don't understand what the movement is. we...this is the thing — we are unearthing something that people really don't want to talk about. we've never had a moment like this in history, we've never had a moment where we actually had sexual violence on the centre stage, where we're looking at the breadth of sexual violence from sexual harassment to rape and murder, right?
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we haven't really examined that. now that we're having these conversations and women, particularly women, are voicing things that have always been uncomfortable, there's this notion that something has changed, but, really, nothing has changed except for the fact that people can hear us when we say, "these things are inappropriate." so now, you have people responding to that because we are upending something that has been institutionalised, really, for so long. people have been able to do what they want to do, say what they want to say, be inappropriate in all kinds of ways without being called on it. now they're being called on and they're saying, "i my gosh, this isjust...this is uncomfortable. " when, really, all women are saying is, "i'm asking for you to consent." this word than that sometimes gets bandied around, that it's gone too far, that some say a witch—hunt is now under way. yes. and some of them cite an interesting case, and i'd just like your views on it. and i know you don't like to get too involved in individual cases, but the one case i'm thinking of is the democratic senator al franken who was, essentially, forced out, required to resign — he felt he was required to resign
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after a host of women said that he'd behaved inappropriately toward them. interestingly, even some self—proclaimed feminists, including the lawyer who represented christine blasey ford in her battle with brett kavanaugh in front of senators — she said, "the allegations levelled against senator franken "didn't warrant his forced expulsion from the senate. "to treat all allegations the same is not only appropriate. "it feeds a backlash narrative that men are vulnerable to even frivolous "allegations by women." but i don't think — our call is not to treat all allegations the same. yeah. no, of course not. it makes no sense to try to dump everybody into one box and say, "these are the bad people and these are the good people." sexual violence happens on a spectrum so accountability should happen on a spectrum, right? the level of things that happen
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to people vary from depending on... i could have an experience and another woman have the exact same experience and we come away feeling differently about that. so, how did you feel about the resignation of senator franken? well, i think that was his own decision, right. i think that's not... i'm not here to draw opinions about whether he should or shouldn't have. he made a decision based on what was happening in his life. but i think the bigger question is that — we have to look at what accountability looks like for people, and survivors want accountability in different ways. we have to shift away from this idea that there's only one way to look at and deal with all sexual violence. i think that's a more — you know, a more appropriate framework for us to work from. the more we develop this conversation, the more i'm thinking to myself that while we characterise me too as largely a movement sort of by women for women, it is only going to work if you really have men with you, and do you think men get it? well, first of all, this is the reason why — everywhere i go, i try to tell people me too is not
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a women's movement. we are a survivors movement and i think it's counter—productive to only engage men from the perspective that they are the harm doers and they have to change and they are the perpetrators. men are also survivors of sexual violence, and so, ourfirst engagement with them is from that place. the second point is that men are also wonderful allies, and you're right — we're not going to move the needle at all unless we can engage and men and women, and however people identify in ways that let them understand how harmful sexual violence is and how we, as human beings, are responsible for undoing that. so, men are very much involved in that and are very much a part of the solution. this is not a war against men. we can't make the changes that we need to see an end 01’ even an interruption to sexual violence unless we have everybody engaged. you said to me a little earlier that, fundamentally, this is about power, it's about the dynamics... power and privilege. ..of power and privilege. you've been at this for decades, it's been your life's work. but how far down at this path, along this journey do you feel yourself to be?
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i mean, are you still near the beginning or can you see the end in sight? i am standing on the shoulders of people who started this fight way before me. and so i see myself as taking the mantle, the baton was passed to me and i'm carrying it even further. so myjob is to do more than was done prior to me coming. i think that we are way further along than we were a0 years ago, right, when the first rape crisis centres were opening in the united states and we are just getting to certain kinds of women's lib issues around sexual violence. we're way further advanced than that. and can you imagine a day when you walk back into a classroom or a refuge in selma, alabama, and you ask women and girls whether they have had experienced direct personal experience of sexual violence and they do not have to write on that piece of paper, me too? can you imagine that? i can imagine that. i can also imagine the day where there is comprehensive sex
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education that is in curriculums is across the country so that young people who go through school, by the time they graduate, have been hearing about consent and boundaries and respect since they were in kindergarten, and they think differently, and so sexual violence is appalling to them. tarana burke, it's been a pleasure having you on hardtalk. thank you very much indeed. thank you so much. hello there. the weather is staying unsettled to end the week and indeed into the weekend we have got more rain at times, also some strong winds, thanks to an active jetstream bringing areas of low pressure in. for friday, it's going to be a very windy day, and most of the rain would be across western hills, across the northern half of the country. here it is on the
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pressure charts. you can see lots of isobars across the country, so it will be windy and these weather fronts bringing outbreaks of rain to parts of northern ireland, particularly western northern ireland, into western scotland, north—west england and, at times, into northern and western wales. further south and east, it should be drier and brighter but a very blustery day for all. those winds gusting 30—110 miles an hourfor many. parts of south—east scotland, east of the pennines, could see gusts around 60 miles a hour so these, in their own right, could cause some transport issues. temperature wise, though, milder than what it was on thursday. temperatures 10—12 degrees. now, as we head through friday night, it stays wet across western hills in the north, but it looks like some of that rain will start to push a little bit further southwards, so affecting parts of south—west england and in towards wales. of course, anymore rainfall here is extremely unwelcome.
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lots of showers piling into scotland. temperatures falling here so they'll be wintry on the hills. but it will be milder across the south. that weather front pushes its way southwards and eastwards into saturday, bringing an unwelcome band of rain there, but further north, it stays very windy indeed. a real squeeze in the isobars there and there will be lots of showers. these piling into much of scotland, some heavy with hail, thunder, and also settling snow on the hills and maybe some blizzard conditions as well with the strength of the winds. further south, rather cloudy, outbreaks of rain, mainly towards the west but it will be another mild day in the south — 11—14 degrees, but colder further north. and then as we move through saturday night, this next feature runs into england and wales which could bring a spell of unwelcome rain once again. further north, it will be quite windy with further showers but at least the good news is, through sunday, that rain should clear away quite quickly and then skies brighten up quite nicely, with plenty of sunshine around, so a welcome day of drier and brighter weather but it will feel a bit colder. that settled spell of weather, thanks to this ridge of high pressure, will be short—lived because, across the atlantic, we will see the next very deep area of low pressure moving in on monday. pushing towards the north of the uk to bring a spell
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of severe gales and further rain at times. so with more rain in the forecast for the next few days, flooding could be a further issue so just head on line to the bbc weather website to check out the weather and flood warnings.
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this is the briefing — i'm ben bland. our top story: tens of thousands of germans attend vigils for the nine people murdered by a far—right extremist. a life sentence in new zealand for the man who murdered british backpacker grace millane. ira n votes for a new parliament but how many will bother to take part in the election? from a galaxy far, far away to a toyshop near you. how disney builds a baby yoda empire through merchandising.

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