Times Up: Moving Beyond #MeToo

This is a sponsored feature. All opinions are 100% our own.

On New Year's Day, a new initiative was announced: an anti-harassment action plan created, supported, and funded by many powerful Hollywood women. It is an impressively detailed plan that is taking the momentum of the #MeToo moment, and the many sexual assault allegations, and using it to create actual change. And this isn’t just about privileged Hollywood actresses; this plan is about putting the focus on those who don’t have a platform and copious amounts of money to use towards seeking justice. These powerful women are creating a plan that provides real, tangible resources - emotional, legal, and financial - to normal women. We are talking about farm workers, factory workers, caregivers, and waitresses. Those who do not have the choice to speak up for fear of losing their jobs are the focus of this movement. This is not accidental. Time’s Up is in response to a letter written and signed by over 700,000 female farm workers, thanking the women of Hollywood for coming forward about abuse.

    The women behind Time’s Up - actresses like Reese Witherspoon, Kerry Washington, and America Ferrera, as well as producers like Shonda Rhimes, and lawyers like Nina L. Shaw and Tina Tchen (Michelle Obama’s former Chief of Staff) - decided that the perfect platform to project this movement forward was the 2018 Golden Globes. Besides chatter about this new initiative, there was already plenty of talk surrounding this awards show as it would be the first since the accusations against Harvey Weinstein and others began. A few actresses urged the women attending to wear black in solidarity with sexual assault victims. This seemingly trivial action turned into the most loving, supportive, and meaningful red carpet I have ever seen. Actresses like Emma Watson and Michelle Williams brought activists with them to speak about the cause.

               

    I saw strong women holding hands and standing together, proud of what they were organizing. Kerry Washington described the choice to use the Golden Globes to speak up, explaining that they chose not to stay home because they shouldn’t have to sit out this night of celebration for actions that weren’t even their own. Eva Longoria said of the chose to wear black, “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.”

    And the Golden Globes responded in kind. Many of the awards during the show were given to movies created by women, about women, as well as to actresses who portrayed complicated, strong, and flawed characters. Movies like Lady Bird and Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri, as well as shows like Big Little Lies and The Handmaid’s Tale, dominated the categories. Even the host, Seth Meyers, addressed the accusations and activism head-on.

Oh, and one word… Oprah.

    Oprah Winfrey was honored with the Cecil B. de Mille award and her speech was… exhilarating. She brought tears to my eyes, as I’m sure she did to many, and even provoked a call for her to run for president in 2020. She, a sexual assault survivor herself, was exactly what this initiative needed to cement itself as a national movement. She chose to use her acceptance speech to perfectly articulate what Time’s Up is all about. She said,

“...It’s [sexual assault] not just a story affecting the entertainment industry. It’s one that transcends any culture, geography, race, religion, politics, or workplace. So I want tonight to express gratitude to all the women who have endured years of abuse and assault because they, like my mother, had children to feed and bills to pay and dreams to pursue. They’re the women whose names we’ll never know. They are domestic workers and farm workers. They are working in factories and they work in restaurants and they’re in academia, engineering, medicine, and science. They’re part of the world of tech and politics and business. They’re our athletes in the Olympics and they’re our soldiers in the military.”

 

So, like Oprah Winfrey, let me bring this conversation back to what matters: Time’s Up. It is something we’ve never seen before. It is a large-scale legal defense fund that has raised over $15 million dollars in order to help protect women from sexual misconduct in the workplace, as well as the threatening consequences of reporting said misconduct. It will also be working towards equal treatment in the workplace and penalizations for companies that fail to meet those requirements.

I want to reiterate that this is not just a fleeting movement or a trendy hashtag to raise awareness. This is a detailed, legal plan backed by millions of dollars and many powerful, influential women. This is important because we are talking about potential systematic change and adjustment of the current imbalance of power that exists in nearly every industry and workplace. This is a concrete, significant, and achievable step towards gender equality in our country, starting - not ending - with the least privileged. I, for one, am optimistic and thrilled to watch this history-in-the-making.

The information on Time’s Up was taken from the New York Times (the specific articles are linked below) as well as red carpet interviews from the event. Also linked below is Oprah Winfrey’s speech at the 2018 Golden Globes.

Powerful Hollywood Women Unveil Anti-Harassment Action Plan

On the Golden Globes Red Carpet, Fighting Back in Black

Oprah's Speech