Time's Up: Hope in the Wake of #MeToo

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If you’ve been paying attention to pop culture lately, you’ve probably heard something about women wearing black to the Golden Globe Awards or caught Natalie Portman’s comment about the all-male nominees for Best Director. And if you didn’t see Oprah Winfrey’s speech live, chances are you heard about it from friends, but what exactly is the TIME’S UP movement is and what changes they are trying to make?

The TIME’S UP campaign began as a meeting of women in Hollywood last fall to address sexual harassment in the workplace, but it has quickly become a movement for victims everywhere.

Back in November 2017, 700,000 female farmworkers sent a letter of solidarity to a large group of Hollywood actors. You can read more about that letter here. In response, female leaders in the film and television industry published their Letter of Solidarity on the first day of 2018, These core leaders include Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, television producer Shonda Rhimes, entertainment attorney Nina Shaw, and actresses America Ferrara, Natalie Portman, Tracee Ellis Ross and Reese Witherspoon. While these seven women have been especially vocal about their involvement, TIME’S UP does not have an organized group of leaders. They seek to switch the conversation from the viral social media #MeToo to creating real change around the globe.

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Oprah sat down with these women and asked how this would help the waitresses, farmworkers, and caregivers who have experienced or will experience sexual assault. Kathleen Kennedy responded, “We have to maintain the momentum of this conversation, because they can’t . . . it’s in the content we’re creating, the conversations we’re having.

“We have to maintain the momentum of this conversation, because they can’t . . . it’s in the content we’re creating, the conversations we’re having.”

The movement has recognized the connection between male-dominated leadership and the prevalence of sexual harassment. When women only have men to turn to when accusing someone in their workplace, they are less likely to be open about what happened and are often reprimanded and even punished for approaching the issue. TIME’S UP seeks to enable underrepresented groups to reach their full potential by addressing the systemic inequality and injustice in the workplace. They do this by improving laws, employment agreements and corporate policies. By giving more women and men the ability to access their legal system, they want to hold offenders accountable and eventually “change the face” of corporate boardrooms. The TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund provides subsidized legal services for individuals subjected to workplace sexual harassment and abuse. So far, the campaign has raised $21 million, and over 1,000 people have submitted requests for legal help.

Natalie Portman, Jessica Chastain, Edgar Ramirez, and Laura Dern sporting their TIME'S UP merch. (PHOTO CREDIT:  @EDGARRAMIREZ25 AND @BRIELARSON /INSTAGRAM)

Natalie Portman, Jessica Chastain, Edgar Ramirez, and Laura Dern sporting their TIME'S UP merch. (PHOTO CREDIT: @EDGARRAMIREZ25 AND @BRIELARSON/INSTAGRAM)

What can you do to help?

The campaign page gives eight suggested action steps:

1. Don’t harass anyone - that would make you a part of the problem.

2. Believe people who open up about being harassed. Don’t underestimate how hard it is to talk about these things.

3. Connect victims with resources. Helpful resources include the National Domestic Violence Hotline, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Futures Without Violence.

4. Intervene, confront, or otherwise help a victim if you are witness to a harassment situation. If you are unable to intervene at the time, support the harassed person by corroborating and confirming the account.

5. Make a monetary contribution. Donate to the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund, and add your name to their Letter of Solidarity. By doing so, you would be joining the likes of Melissa McCarthy, Gabrielle Union, Meryl Streep, Goldie Hawn, Michelle Pfeiffer, Greta Gerwig, Halle Berry, Mindy Kaling, Molly Ringwald, Alyssa Milano, Jennifer Aniston, Emma Watson, Penelope Cruz and Amy Sherman-Palladino, who are just 14 of more than 300 women in Hollywood who originally signed the letter.

6. In your organization, look at the workforce and leadership, which includes management, officers or a board of directors. Ask yourself, “Does this reflect our market and our world?” If the answer is no, seek out the why and do something to move closer to the goal of equal representation.

7. Realize that while talent is equally distributed, work and career opportunities are not. Mentor someone from an underrepresented group in your industry. If it is within your power, hire someone who can diversity the perspectives at your workplace.

8. Be aware of where your money is going and vote with your wallet in purchases, investments and charitable giving. Support companies and organizations who have both women and men as leaders and employees.

Another way you can make a contribution to the defense fund is by shopping the TIME’S UP store, which includes the well-known pin, as well as a shirt, onesie, and even a tote bag! These items are designed as conversation-starters, and 100 % of the proceeds go to the defense fund.

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The clock has run out on sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace. It’s time to do something about it,” their website reads. The TIME’S UP website also provides related statistics, a way to request legal assistance, further resources for victims and links to news coverage. With so many opportunities to get involved and make a real difference, this cultural moment is exciting, and it is really just getting started.  

At this year’s Golden Globes, Oprah Winfrey accepted the Cecil B. Demille Award for lifetime achievement. Her speech gave a glimmer of hope that the fight against sexual assault, and sexual exploitation for that matter, is moving forward.

“A new day is on the horizon! And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say, ‘Me too’ again.”

-Oprah Winfrey


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About the Author

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Rae Rohm is an avid baker, an enthusiastic storyteller, and a thoughtful writer who hails from Delaware. She is a graduate of Biola University, where she studied journalism. When she is not teaching people about the glories of her home state, she can be found enjoying nature with her sweet but mischievous puppy, singing along to music while running on the treadmill, and making gifts for her family and friends. Rae loves using her skills and talents to bring all people -  past and present, near and far - into fellowship with one another.