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#TimesUp: Hollywood Women Launch a Legal Defense Fund for Sexual Harassment

By Kate Love on Tuesday January 2nd, 2018

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Sisters Stand in Solidarity

A group of Hollywood’s most powerful women have begun the New Year with a resolution to stand with their sisters in solidarity.

In the wake of #MeToo allegations of sexual harassment and abuse of power in the entertainment industry, 300 women have banded together to create a legal defense fund.

The campaign, called Time’s Up, was launched with an impassioned open letter vowing support for women across every industry; especially those in low-wage jobs, from farm workers to waitresses and caretakers. The pledge appeared as a full-page ad in The New York Times, and in La Opinion, a Spanish-language newspaper.

The struggle for women to break in, to rise up the ranks and to simply be heard and acknowledged in male-dominated workplaces must end; time’s up on this impenetrable monopoly.

Breaking the Silence

Time’s Up is described as a “unified call for change from women in entertainment for women everywhere.” The anti-harassment group is made up of hundreds of renowned actresses, writers, and directors. These women recognise their privilege in having a voice. Now they are empowering those in lower income employment to break the silence.

One of my #MeToo experiences was when I was a poor student at University working as a waitress. The manager consistently made inappropriate comments laden with sexual innuendo. This gave permission to the other men I was working with to treat me the same way.

It got to the point where I dreaded going to work. Eventually I had enough and confronted the manager. His behaviour stopped, at least with me, but I never made a formal complaint.

Time's Up letter of solidarity300 Hollywood women launch Time’s Up to support victims of sexual harassment.

Not having a voice and, in more serious cases, the inability to take legal action due to lack of support or funds is exactly what Time’s Up is aiming to change.

We also recognise our privilege and the fact that we have access to enormous platforms to amplify our voices. Both of which have driven widespread attention to the existence of this problem in our industry that farmworker women and countless individuals in other industries have not been afforded.

If this kind of support had been available and I didn’t feel so powerless and alone, maybe I would have acted differently, or not put up with it for so long.

The ‘casting couch’ culture in Hollywood was where the #MeToo hashtag broke the silence. Stories of sexual misconduct emerged from every industry, from agriculture to hospitality and the media. The bravery of the women who spoke up against film producer Harvey Weinstein opened the doors for many more voices to be heard.

But speaking out is not enough. Even when women have the courage to stand up the fight isn’t over. Harassment can often continue because “perpetrators and employers never face any consequences.” It’s time that they do face the consequences.

Legal Action

Time’s Up stands with all those who have had to fend off sexual harassment–”those who have come forward and those who have decided to remain quiet.” For those who are ready to come forward, they will offer legal aid.

We want all survivors of sexual harassment, everywhere, to be heard, to be believed, and to know that accountability is possible.

Victims of sexual harassment stand togetherThe #MeToo campaign has revealed the extent of sexual misconduct across all industries.

Many survivors do not have the financial means to take legal action. The defense fund, administered by the National Women’s Law Center, aims to support both men and women who have been victims of sexual harassment, with a focus on those in less privileged professions who are unable to afford the legal fees.

Time’s Up does more than just offer legal support. The project partners with leading advocates for equality and safety to:

…improve laws, employment agreements, and corporate policies; help change the face of corporate boardrooms and the C-suite; and enable more women and men to access our legal system to hold wrongdoers accountable.

It’s Time for Change

This groundbreaking campaign, supported by stars such as Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Margot Robbie and Jennifer Aniston, has already raised more than $13m of its $15m target in a matter of days.

Not afraid to shy away from the spotlight, these celebrities are taking Time’s Up to the red carpet at the 75th Golden Globes, wearing black in response to the sexual harassment scandal in Hollywood. Some are even taking gender activists as their dates. All of them are saying #MeToo. All of them are saying enough is enough.

Surveys reveal the shocking reality that 1 in 3 women aged 18–34 have been sexually harassed at work. 71% of those women said that, just like me when I was working as a waitress, they did not report it. It’s time to bring back the balance of power.

No more silence. No more waiting. No more tolerance for discrimination, harassment or abuse.

Time’s up.

You can support those affected by sexual harassment by donating to the Time’s Up Legal Defence Fund.

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Kate Love

Writer, Editor, Yoga Teacher and Retreat Facilitator

 

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