As many prominent figures in Hollywood have been faced with sexual harassment allegations recently, 300 prominent actresses and female agents, writers, directors, producers and entertainment executives have formed an ambitious initiative to fight systemic sexual harassment in Hollywood and in blue-collar workplaces nationwide.
On Jan. 1, The New York Times ran a story with a headline titled “Dear Sisters.” The open letter was signed by over 300 prominent Hollywood figures.
Members of the “Time’s Up” initiative include Reese Witherspoon, Emma Stone, Natalie Portman, Eva Longoria, America Ferrera, Meryl Streep, Shonda Rhimes, Blake Lively and many others.
Tina Tchen, Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff, pioneered the creation of the fund with this initiative which will connect sexual harassment victims with lawyers. The fund, which is still accruing donations, will be administered by the National Women’s Law Center’s Legal Network for Gender Equity.
Their goal is to help correct a power imbalance through the use of a legal defense fund.
This legal defense fund, backed by $13 million in donations, has been put into place in an effort to help less privileged women such as janitors, nurses and workers at farms, factories, restaurants and hotels pay for court fees when fighting sexual harassment or assault.
With the help of this legal defense fund, victims will be able to protect themselves from sexual misconduct and the backlash that unfortunately comes with reporting it.
“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”, in a public statement to The New York Times.
Other initiatives within “Time’s Up” include legislation to penalize companies that tolerate persistent harassment and/or incorporate the use of nondisclosure agreements to silence victims.
In an effort to raise awareness, women walking the red carpet at The Golden Globes on Jan. 7 wore black.
“For years, we’ve sold these awards shows as women, with our gowns and colors and our beautiful faces and our glamour,” Longoria said in a public statement to The New York Times. “This time the industry can’t expect us to go up and twirl around. That’s not what this moment is about.”
Those involved with the “Time’s Up” movement demand greater representation for minorities, immigrants and those in the LGBTQIA+ community whose experiences in the workforce are said to be often significantly worse that their white, cisgender, straight peers.
The group will also seek legislation that would penalize misbehaving companies as well as a specific push to achieve gender parity at Hollywood studios and talent agencies.
The creation of the “Time’s Up” initiative led by powerful Hollywood women is most certainly a positive step in combating widespread sexual harassment and assault in show business and other industries in America.