This is not the year to sit in our hands. On the very 1st day of January, 300 actresses and female agents, writers, directors, producers and entertainment executives launched an initiative to fight systemic sexual harassment in workplaces throughout the globe, which they provocatively named TIME’S UP.
With a full-page ad in the New York Times, they addressed the public and the media with a direct declaration of intent. They dub the project a «unified call for change from women in entertainment for women everywhere».
They invoke a leadership that reflects the actual working environment, where women are still heavily neglected and mistreated.
Triggered by the allegations against powerful show-businessmen (first of all the now-notorious producer Harvey Weinstein) and the venomous criticism brought up to counteract the #METOO movement, TIME’S UP addresses «the systemic inequality and injustice in the workplace that have kept underrepresented groups from reaching their full potential». Women have power. In fact, the initiative is not just pretty words: it provides a legal defence fund – starting with a provisional 13 million dollars from donations – to protect less privileged women from sexual misconduct and the consequences from reporting it, as well as legislation to penalize companies that tolerate persistent harassment. To help the project spread and be funded, the participants asked women who will soon be walking the red carpet at the Golden Globes to wear black.
The movement is all volunteer-supported, and leaderless. It is backed by movie stars such as Ashley Judd, America Ferrera, Charlize Theron, Natalie Portman, Emma Stone, Kerry Washington, Reese Witherspoon.
I stand with women across every industry to say #TIMESUP on abuse, harassment, marginalization and underrepresentation. Join me! Sign the statement of solidarity & donate to the @TIMESUPNW Legal Defense Fund: https://t.co/tp9YDjZ0qw pic.twitter.com/KW2b5BGgbX
— Emma Watson (@EmmaWatson) January 2, 2018
But also producer Shonda Rhimes, the chairwoman of Universal Pictures, Donna Langley, and the lawyers who served as Michelle Obama’s chief of staff, Nina L. Shaw and Tina Tchen, who will provide the initiative with their expertise and counselling, are supporting the campaign.
Time's up on silence. Time's up on waiting. Time's up on tolerating discrimination, harassment and abuse. #TimesUp Sign the solidarity letter & donate to the @TIMESUPNW Legal Defense Fund: https://t.co/eTwKtOboIl pic.twitter.com/q8aok1HTGg
— shonda rhimes (@shondarhimes) January 1, 2018
As for who the initiative is addressed to, TIME’S UP seeks to include the plight of working-class women, but there also is a group ensuring that minorities and LGBTQ people are heard.
The organization was created last October: it began as informal meetings of female talent agents in Los Angeles, right after the issue of sexual harassment hit the show industry and the media showed interest in the sadly long-known situation. The group rapidly expanded and now includes meetings and workshops in New York and London.
As many celebrated personalities are adding their voices, the world watches the initiative grow, in the vivid hope it leads to lasting changes.