Over 300 prominent Hollywood female artistes, including actresses, agents, writers, directors, producers and entertainment executives have formed a strategic alliance to fight systemic sexual harassment in Hollywood and in blue-collar workplaces nationwide.
Called ‘Time’s Up’, the initiative includes a legal defense fund, backed by $13 million in donations, to help less privileged women — like janitors, nurses and workers at farms, factories, restaurants and hotels — protect themselves from sexual misconduct and the fallout from reporting it.
There is also legislation in plan, to penalize companies that tolerate persistent harassment, and to discourage the use of nondisclosure agreements to silence victims.
Part of the plan is a drive to reach gender parity at studios and talent agencies that has already begun making headway, and a request that women walking the red carpet at the Golden Globes speak out and raise awareness by wearing black.
The movement was announced on Monday with an impassioned pledge of support to working-class women in an open letter signed by hundreds of women in show business, many of them A-listers. The letter also ran as a full-page ad in The New York Times, and in La Opinion, a Spanish-language newspaper.
Some of the women who have established ‘Time’s Up’ include actresses America Ferrera and Eva Longoria; lawyer Nina L. Shaw; actress Reese Witherspoon; producer Shonda Rhimes; and lawyer Tina Tchen.
“The struggle for women to break in, to rise up the ranks and to simply be heard and acknowledged in male-dominated workplaces must end; time’s up on this impenetrable monopoly,” the letter says.
New York Times reports that the group is one answer to the question of how women in Hollywood would respond to cascading allegations that have upended the careers of powerful men in an industry where the prevalence of sexual predation has yielded the minimizing cliché of the “casting couch,” and where silence has been a condition of employment.
Time’s Up also helps defuse criticism that the spotlight on the #MeToo movement has been dominated by the accusers of high-profile men, while the travails of working-class women have been overlooked.
This was highlighted in November, when an open letter was sent on behalf of 700,000 female farmworkers who said they stood with Hollywood actresses in their fight against abuse. Time’s Up members said the letter bolstered their resolve to train their efforts on both Hollywood and beyond.
“It’s very hard for us to speak righteously about the rest of anything if we haven’t cleaned our own house,” said Shonda Rhimes, the executive producer of the television series “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “How to Get Away With Murder,” who has been closely involved with the group.
“If this group of women can’t fight for a model for other women who don’t have as much power and privilege, then who can?” Ms. Rhimes continued.
Other ‘Time’s Up’ members include the actresses Ashley Judd, Natalie Portman, Rashida Jones, Emma Stone, and Kerry Washington.
In the same vein, another group, 50/50by2020, is pushing entertainment organizations and companies to agree to reach gender parity in their leadership tiers within two years.
Another group is devising legislation to tackle abuses and address how nondisclosure agreements silence victims of sexual harassment. “People settling out in advance of their rights is obviously something that can’t continue,” said Ms. Shaw, a prominent lawyer whose clients have included Lupita Nyong’o and Ava DuVernay.
Time’s Up has also been urging women to wear black at the Golden Globes, taking place this Sunday, to use the red carpet to speak out against gender and racial inequality, and to raise awareness about their initiative and the legal fund.
“This is a moment of solidarity, not a fashion moment,” Ms. Longoria said. A vast majority of the women who had been contacted and planned to attend the ceremony pledged to participate, she said.
“For years, we’ve sold these awards shows as women, with our gowns and colors and our beautiful faces and our glamour,” Ms. Longoria said. “This time the industry can’t expect us to go up and twirl around. That’s not what this moment is about.”
Time’s Up was formed soon after The New York Times reported in early October that the producer Harvey Weinstein had reached multiple settlements with women who had accused him of sexual misconduct.