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Book Club Series — Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement

“The story I’m going to tell is about how we got to those two simple yet infinitely powerful words: me too. The story of how empathy for others—without which the work of ‘me too’ doesn’t exist—starts with empathy for that dark place of shame where we keep our stories, where I kept mine. The courage that trickled out of a young Black girl in the Bronx … formed the massive ocean that this movement has become.” — Tarana Burke

Welcome to the Women for Women International Book Club! This month, we’re reading Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement, a powerful, courageous memoir by activist and advocate Tarana Burke. 

In Unbound, Burke beautifully and bravely bares her soul, sharing her heart-wrenching story of the sexual abuse she suffered as a little girl; her long, painful, and difficult path toward healing; and how as a young adult, she went on to become an advocate for civil rights and a social leader who empowers other survivors of sexual abuse.

Burke’s realization that empathy and the power found in solidarity were extremely effective in helping victims of sexual assault and harassment to heal and move forward would lead to one of the largest social movements to this day—the “Me Too” movement.

This unforgettable memoir, a must-read for all women, is a rare and brilliant gift that has already inspired and impacted people all over the world. Please join us as we read and discuss!

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Why Unbound is important...

Unbound is the story of Burke’s life and her calling to become an advocate for justice and equity. We see her take back the power that was stolen from her when she was sexually abused as a child and use it to help others who’ve endured the same abuse and trauma—first in her community, and then around the world.  

In this raw, poignant memoir, Burke brings to light how the cycle of sexual violence and other systemic issues disproportionately impact marginalized people—particularly vulnerable children and women of color. As a camp leader who worked with children of color, Burke saw that, like her, the young survivors she encountered didn’t have the safe spaces, resources, or support they needed to help them through their pain and set them on a path to healing. In her efforts to change tis reality, she realized the effectiveness of empowerment through empathy—survivors could find the courage to speak out about abuse and seek healing when they realized they weren’t alone and weren’t to blame. 

Burke placed the focus on survivors of sexual violence and the need for survivor-centered, survivor-led solutions. When the “Me Too” movement went viral in 2017, she led conversations around the world about sexual abuse, sharing the messages that healing is possible, that survivors are leaders, and that ending sexual violence must be made a social justice priority. Burke has increased access to resources and support for survivors and paved a way forward for everyone to find their place in the movement.

At Women for Women International, we believe in the power of women connecting to bring about incredible change in the world. With the support of one another, women can break down barriers to social, cultural, and economic equality while bringing marginalized populations to the forefront. Community, solidarity, knowing and standing up for one’s rights, mobilization, and bringing about societal change—these positive initiatives create ripple effects that will make a difference for generations to come. To learn more about what we’re doing to help women worldwide, visit our work page.  

Trigger Warning for Unbound: Sexual violence/rape, sexual assault, pedophilia


Discussion Questions

Check out the discussion questions below for Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement and connect with readers on social media to share your reactions, thoughts, and questions by using the hashtag #WFWIBookClub, and tagging us with @womenforwomen. We want to hear what you think—share your take on the book with us! 

1. When Burke first hears that the “Me Too” hashtag movement has gone viral at the hands of a group of predominantly white Hollywood actresses, her first emotion was panic. Why? 

2. Burke discovered that the phrase “Me too” was powerful in helping young survivors of sexual abuse open up and seek healing. Why do those two simple words hold so much power?

3. Burke shares that after she was first sexually abused at the age of 7, she tried to be “good” but sometimes gave in to what she believes her “true self” was. What do you think are the reasons behind those feelings and beliefs?

4. How does Burke’s relationship with her mother play a role in her decision not to speak out about the occurrences of sexual abuse that happened throughout her childhood? 

5. How did joining 21 Century have a life-changing impact for Tarana Burke?

6. In what way do you think sexual violence disproportionately impacts marginalized populations? How are white survivors treated differently than survivors of color?

7. In the end, do you feel the viral popularity of the “Me Too” movement was helpful to survivors of color?