2017 wasn’t exactly a quiet year, was it? Post-Weinstein, women’s voices rose up in Hollywood – and echoed all over the world. But if you thought for a second that the protest was over, you’d have been very much mistaken. Instead, barely two days in to the new year, Hollywood’s movers and shakers are cranking up the volume.
A new campaign, backed by hundreds of women in the entertainment industry, kicked off yesterday – announced via a full-page advert in The New York Times. Time’s Up, a sister protest to the #MeToo movement, has positioned itself as a force for change. Actresses (including Natalie Portman, Margot Robbie, Emma Stone and Reese Witherspoon), writers, directors and agents in show business have all signed up to the initiative, which aims to raise $15m to fund legal support for women and men facing sexual harassment in the workplace. In little more than 24 hours, the campaign has raised $13m (£9.6m).
“Dear sisters,” an open letter – which you can read in full here – began, “we write on behalf of over 300 women who work in film, television and theater. A little more than two months ago, courageous individuals revealed the dark truth of ongoing sexual harassment and assault by powerful people in the entertainment industry.”
The “solidarity letter” explains that the “struggle for women to break in, to rise up the ranks and to simply be heard” must end. “We remain committed to holding our own workplaces accountable, pushing for swift and effective change to make the entertainment industry a safe and equitable place for everyone, and telling women’s stories through our eyes and voices with the goal of shifting our society’s perception and treatment of women.”
It’s not just about seeking justice, but demanding it. No more silence, no more excuses. No more waiting. Not this time
It’s a forceful statement – and justifiably so; the sort of thing that makes your spine straighten, your shoulders square and your lips purse in stubborn determination upon reading it. But what makes this campaign particularly noteworthy is that, despite the wealth and privilege behind Time’s Up, there’s nothing elitist about its aims. Rather, this campaign feels so significant because it is genuinely inclusive. The authors of the open letter explicitly address working-class women – women who are not only subject to the same gross mistreatment but also prevented from seeking justice through lack of means. Agricultural workers (an industry that saw 700,000 women stand in solidarity with Hollywood’s women), housekeepers and janitors. They speak to “every waitress grabbed by a customer and expected to take it with a smile, every garment and factory worker forced to trade sexual acts for more shifts, every domestic worker or home health aide forcibly touched by a client, every immigrant woman silenced by the threat of her undocumented status being reported in retaliation for speaking up”.
“We stand with you,” they write. “We support you.”
The message is an urgent one: no woman gets left behind in 2018. It’s not just about seeking justice, but demanding it. No more silence, no more excuses. No more waiting. Not this time.
2018, we’re only just getting started.