Now, it has been revealed that the all-black protest is part of something much, much larger—and it’s the opposite of silent.
New Year’s Day saw the announcement of Time’s Up, an initiative made up of more than 300 women working in film, television, and theater who have come together to fight sexual harassment and gender inequality within Hollywood and beyond. The leaderless organization, created last year in response to the growing list of high-profile sexual harassers, declares “time’s up” on sexual harassment. It will fight for legislative change, push studios to achieve gender parity by 2020, and provide legal funding to help less privileged women fight workplace harassment. It is also behind calls for women walking the Golden Globes red carpet to wear black and use the opportunity to speak out about sexual harassment. Members of the group, which is run by volunteers and sounds about as close to a grassroots movement as a Hollywood alliance can be, include Ashley Judd, Eva Longoria, America Ferrera, Natalie Portman, Rashida Jones, Emma Stone, Kerry Washington, and Reese Witherspoon.
In an open letter that began “Dear Sisters,” published in the New York Times and in Spanish-language newspaper La Opinión on Monday, the women of entertainment called out to Latina farmworkers, thanking them for their November letter of solidarity and acknowledging their common experiences. Gender inequality pervades all workplaces, they wrote, “from legislatures to boardrooms to executive suits and management to academia.” Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund—which is spearheaded by Tina Tchen, Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff—is aimed at offering legal assistance to blue-collar workers who are less able to fight unfair treatment. It has so far raised $13 million.
A number of the group’s members spoke to the New York Times about the work that has been going on behind the scenes since the Weinstein news broke in October. Maria Eitel, an expert in corporate responsibility who helps moderate Time’s Up meetings, said that people were “viscerally” moved by the recent spate of allegations. “They didn’t come together because they wanted to whine, or complain, or tell a story or bemoan,” she said. “They came together because they intended to act. There was almost a ferociousness to it, especially in the first meetings.”
Reese Witherspoon said that it was powerful having women come together. “We have been siloed off from each other,” she said. “We’re finally hearing each other, and seeing each other, and now locking arms in solidarity with each other, and in solidarity for every woman who doesn’t feel seen, to be finally heard.”
As the group’s website says: “The clock has run out on sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace. It’s time to do something about it.”