Three hundred high-profile female celebrities, agents, executives, directors and writers have banned together to send a message to sexual harassers in Hollywood and beyond: Your “time’s up.” To help reduce sexual harassment, the women are also calling for “a significant increase of women in positions of leadership and power.”
A few months after the industry-shaking allegations against Harvey Weinstein began to emerge, the #MeToo movement in Hollywood has officially morphed into “Time’s Up,” a campaign which seeks to establish a legal defense fund for victimized women, push for gender parity both inside and outside Hollywood, and promote legislation to punish companies who don’t take adequate action against sexual harassers.
The initiative is being promoted by hundreds of Hollywood’s most influential women, including some household names — among them Reese Witherspoon, Natalie Portman, Ashley Judd, Emma Stone, and Kerry Washington. The 300 women published an open letter on Monday addressed to their “sisters.” The language of the letter makes clear that the focus of the effort is specifically on female victims of harassment. Male victims of sexual harassment, like the alleged victims of Kevin Spacey, are only glancingly mentioned once in the letter, when the signatories note that they are committed to “helping women and men across the country seek justice.”
The “Time’s Up” Twitter account announced the new campaign on New Year’s Day. “It’s time to shift the balance in the workplace, from representing the few to representing us all,” reads the announcement, which calls for supporters to sign the group’s solidarity letter and donate to its new legal defense fund:
The letter explains that the initiative was partly inspired by a “powerful and compassionate message of solidarity” from a women’s farm workers union, Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, and stresses that the Hollywood signees “recognize our privilege and the fact that we have access to enormous platforms to amplify our voices.”
NPR provides a summary of the campaign’s key initiatives, which includes a legal defense fund specifically for women in blue-collar and farm jobs:
- A $13 million legal defense fund to help women in blue-collar jobs and farm work
- Drafting of legislation to punish companies that tolerate sexual harassment and to discourage nondisclosure agreements in such cases.
- A push to reach gender parity in Hollywood studios and talent agencies; and a call for women walking the red carpet at the Golden Globes to wear black as a sign of protest and solidarity.
The open letter stresses that along with gender parity “across industries,” the campaign seeks to increase the percentage of minority and LGBT women in relation to their “white, cisgender, straight peers”:
This systemic gender-inequality and imbalance of power fosters an environment that is ripe for abuse and harassment against women. Therefore, we call for a significant increase of women in positions of leadership and power across industries. In addition, we seek equal representation, opportunities, benefits and pay for all women workers, not to mention greater representation of women of color, immigrant women, and lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women, whose experiences in the workforce are often significantly worse than their white, cisgender, straight peers.
The Time’s Up site provides the following description of its legal defense fund:
TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund will provide subsidized legal support to women and men who have experienced sexual harassment, assault, or abuse in the workplace and while in pursuit of their careers. The Fund will ultimately be housed at and administered by the National Women’s Law Center, an established, national women’s rights legal organization. A network of lawyers and public relations professionals across the country will work with the Center’s Legal Network for Gender Equity to provide assistance to those ready to stand up. Access to prompt and comprehensive legal and communications help will mean empowerment for these individuals and long term growth for our culture and communities as a whole.
Tax-deductible donations made TODAY will help launch the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund by supporting our GoFundMe campaign, in partnership with The Direct Impact Fund, a 501(c)(3).