Hollywood Started the Year With a Show of Feminist Solidarity in the Fight Against Sexual Harassment

On January 1, more than 300 of the most powerful figures in the entertainment industry—actors, producers, directors, writers and agents alike—came together to launch Time’s Up Now. The initiative aims to extend the platform afforded to celebrity women in their pushes against sexual harassment to women everywhere, in every profession; it counts Hollywood luminaries such as Reese Witherspoon, Shonda Rhimes, Ashley Judd and America Ferrera among its supporters.

“No more silence,” the campaign website declares. “No more waiting. No more tolerance for discrimination, harassment or abuse. TIME’S UP.”

The campaign was announced in an open letter placed in full-page ads in the New York Times and the Spanish-language newspaper La Opinión. In massive type, the cohort of stars who signed on called out to women with a greeting—”dear sisters”—that doubled as a show of solidarity. In their letter, they link the harassment and exploitation coming to the surface in Hollywood to systemic inequality—and connect the dots between gender gaps in their own industry and sexism elsewhere.

“Unfortunately, too many centers of power—from legislatures to boardrooms to executive suites and management to academia—lack gender parity and women do not have equal decision-making authority,” it read. “This systemic gender-inequality and imbalance of power fosters an environment that is ripe for abuse and harassment against women… Now, unlike ever before, our access to the media and to important decision makers has the potential of leading to real accountability and consequences. We want all survivors of sexual harassment, everywhere, to be heard, to be believed and to know that accountability is possible.”

Time’s Up has pledged to use the considerable financial and social capital enjoyed by many in the entertainment industry to safeguard the rights of all women, particularly those working in low-income professions such as garment workers, janitors, restaurant workers and agricultural workers—noting in their letter the public support Alianza Nacional de Campensinas (the National Farmworker Women’s Alliance) offered to the entertainment community in the wake of a slew of sexual abuse allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and other major players in the industry. The Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which will be administered by the National Women’s Law Center, will provide legal assistance to those who have experienced sexual harassment or retaliation in the workplace.

It is widely expected that stars will take the red carpet at the Golden Globes on Sunday wearing Time’s Up pins in solidarity with survivors and the growing movement to combat sexual harassment in what’s expected to be on of the most politically charged awards ceremonies in decades—and the first major Hollywood event in the wake of the revelations of widespread harassment in the entertainment industry.

Whatever is yet to come of this historic show of solidarity by celebrity women, one thing is certain: In the new year, the rising tide of activism against sexual harassment which emerged in 2017 won’t soon become a thing of the past.

ms-headshotLauren Young is an Editorial Associate at Ms. She has a Master’s Degree in European and Russian Studies from Yale University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and Russian Civilization from Smith College. Follow her on @thatlaurenyoung.

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