Renowned actresses Reese Witherspoon, America Ferrera, and Eva Longoria; lawyers Nina L. Shaw and Tita Tchen, former chief of staff to former First Lady Michelle Obama; Maria Eitel, Co-chairwoman of the Nike Foundation – these powerful women among several others have come together through Time’s Up: a movement to fight systemic sexual harassment in Hollywood among other workplaces nationwide.
The initiative came together soon after Harvey Weinstein reached multiple settlements with women who accused him of sexual misconduct. A group of female talent agents met to discuss and explore solutions, eventually growing its numbers to a whopping total of 300 prominent actresses, female agents, writers, and directors among other roles in the industry.
“People were moved so viscerally,” said Maria Eitel, who helps moderate Time’s Up meetings. “They didn’t come together because they wanted to whine, or complain, or tell a story or bemoan. They came together because they intended to act. There was almost a ferociousness to it.”
In an open letter from the Time’s Up, the ladies pledge to support women in the working-class, considering the difficulty to seek justice without a platform as large as that of a high-profile actress. The letter opens as a response to a similar message sent in November, on behalf of 700,000 female farmworkers who stood in solidarity with female actresses in their fight against abuse.
The group is leaderless and formed by volunteers. It comprises of several groups with differing goals, ranging from legislation to combat sexual misconduct to equal representation of women of color and LGBTQ communities.
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/X90GIZjmEH pic.twitter.com/QSyjrx5S7T
— Viola Davis (@violadavis) January 1, 2018
Time’s Up has since been able to grow a legal defense fund to $14 million of its $15 million goal, aiming to help women in the workforce report sexual harassment. These donations are designated to aid the less privileged in protecting themselves from sexual misconduct and the effects of reporting it.
It also intends to increase gender parity in the form of leadership, pay, and opportunity; with an emphasis on representation of minorities given their often worse experiences in the workplace.
“No one wants to look back and say they stood at the sidelines,” said Lena Waithe, star of the Netflix series “Master of None” and part of said group.
The organization calls upon legislation that better scrutinizes sexual misconduct – including the revision of nondisclosure agreements as they can be used to silence victims. One group within Time’s Up has formed and funded a Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, chaired by Anita Hill. The Commission is responsible for creating a blueprint for ending sexual harassment in show business.
Perhaps the most visible effort of the group will occur at the Golden Globes, as they request attendees to wear black at the event and speak out against sexual harassment.
“This is a moment of solidarity, not a fashion moment,” said Eva Longoria. “For years, we’ve sold these awards shows as women, with our gowns and colors and our beautiful faces and our glamour. This time the industry can’t expect us to go up and twirl around. That’s not what this moment is about.”