As the Sex Predatorgate scandal exploded three months ago, I think many celebrities understood that this was a transformative moment in Hollywood, and hopefully a transformative moment for how we, as a society, talked about and dealt with sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace. There were many people offering suggestions for what to do next, perhaps an all-woman committee, perhaps mass firings of abusive men and their enablers, perhaps a lot more. Few of those suggestions have gotten much traction, because sometimes structural changes move slowly. But here’s something genuinely great: the women – and it’s mostly women – of Hollywood using this conversation to begin an initiative that will help women in other industries.
Three hundred prominent Hollywood women — including Shonda Rhimes, Reese Witherspoon, Ashley Judd, America Ferrera, Natalie Portman, Emma Stone, Kerry Washington, Jill Soloway and Donna Langley — have launched an initiative to fight systemic sexual harassment in the workplace. Called Time’s Up, the plan includes a legal defense fund to help women in blue-collar industries protect themselves from sexual misconduct, support for the “50/50 by 2020” effort to bring gender parity to the executive suites at Hollywood studios and talent agencies, and the call for women to wear black to the upcoming Golden Globe Awards as a sign of solidarity with victims of sexual harassment.
The New York Times reports that though Time’s Up has no central leaders, it is made up of numerous committees and includes Rhimes and Witherspoon among the keys players, and its initiatives — which also includes the anti-sexual harassment commission unveiled last month and chaired by Anita Hill — cover legislation, corporate policy, hiring practices and aggregating important resources. Well-known contributors to the defense fund, currently accepting donations on the GoFundMe platform, include Ava DuVernay, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, Regina King, Felicity Huffman, Megan Ellison, Kate Hudson, Viola Davis, Alicia Vikander, Amy Poehler, Olivia Munn, Taylor Swift, Jessica Chastain, among many others.
“Earning a living should not come at the cost of anyone’s safety, dignity or morale,” stated Rhimes in the announcement. “Every person should get to work in an environment free from abuse, assault and discrimination. It’s well past time to change the culture of the environment where most of us spend the majority of our day — the workplace. Fifty-one percent of our population is female, over 30 percent of our population is of color. Those are important, vital, economically powerfully voices that need to be heard at every level. Time’s Up is working to make sure the people walking the corridors of power within the workplace and in politics truly reflect the full mix of America — the real America that looks like and includes all of us. Look, this isn’t going to be easy but it is right. And fighting for what is right can seem hard. But letting what is wrong become normal is not easier — it is just more shameful.”
“To every woman employed in agriculture who has had to fend off unwanted sexual advances from her boss, every housekeeper who has tried to escape an assaultive guest, every janitor trapped nightly in a building with a predatory supervisor, 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 and to women in every industry who are subjected to indignities and offensive behavior that they are expected to tolerate to make a living: We stand with you. We support you,” the letter reads. “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 the eyes and voices with the goal of shifting our society’s perception and treatment of women.”
The legal defense fund, spearheaded by Tina Tchen and Roberta Kaplan and top PR professionals, will help individuals who experience sexual misconduct including assault, abuse or harassment find legal representation. It will be housed at and administered by the National Women’s Law Center and participating attorneys will work with the Center’s Legal Network for Gender Equity to enable more individuals to come forward and secure legal assistance.
Prior to its formal launch, Time’s Up raised more than $13 million from over 200 donors for the legal defense fund. Founding donors include Katie McGrath and J.J. Abrams, Jennifer Aniston, Meryl Streep, Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg’s Wunderkinder Foundation, as well as agencies CAA, ICM, UTA, WME and Paradigm Talent Agency.
This is good. This is good work. This is a great idea and it will be interesting to see the follow-through and what happens next. My only criticism isn’t even about the group, it’s about the donors. Men in Hollywood need to step the f–k up RIGHT NOW. This is not a women’s issue, it’s a human-being issue, and women are not the only people who need to be funding this effort. I’m looking at you Chris Pine, Dwayne Johnson, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Matt F–king Damon, Chris Rock, Jon Stewart, Ben Affleck, Kurt Russell, Ryan Gosling, Chris Hemsworth, Matthew McConaughey, George Clooney, Chris Pratt, Ashton Kutcher, Robert Downey Jr., Jon Hamm, Christian Bale and everybody else. I don’t want to hear any dude say “but what can I do??” or “things need to change, it’s a shame” while not giving money to Time’s Up or supporting its work.
Photos courtesy of WENN.
“Men in Hollywood need to step the f–k up RIGHT NOW”
So it fine for all of these powerful women to turn a blind eye but not for the men? We do know that reese is married to a stop agent at CAA? They’d still be working with Harvey if he wasn’t publicly exposed.
And most of the women in the industry were born into it which is why they stay so quiet, they don’t want to get their connection in trouble. They don’t care about the working women, this is for show.
Please knock it off. You know exactly why Kaiser made that point about men in particular. Men have committed the vast majority of these offenses, those we know of and those we don’t, and even the men that haven’t committed any such offenses still benefit greatly from the system that fosters, excuses, condones, and even encourages this behavior. But you knew that, and you just wanted to derail and be falsely indignant and this is NOT the time for it, at this great watershed moment. Kaiser’s point was well taken except by, perhaps, the willfully ignorant. You (nor others) no longer have any excuse to make posts like that, not when there has already been so much discussion and discourse about the subject, addressing your fake concerns. Go troll elsewhere.
Thank you. This troll…
Besides Spielberg and JJ Abrahams, all the top donors are women. Meryl, Reese, Aniston and Rhimes all donated $500K, Kathleen Kennedy $250K, Taylor Swift and Oprah $100k, Emma Stone, Cate Blanchett, Jessica Chastain and Natalie Portman donated $50k, Blake Lively, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Biel (plus JT) donated $25k.
I hope more men will step up, sheesh, but good for the ladies!
This is really good. Co-sign to all the last paragraph. Hopefully there will be some truly decent Hollywood men left out there who support this cause.
This is really good. I am all for women empowering women especially to fight these creeps and predators in court. This is a great resource for women facing harassment in the workplace and cannot go to HR or management. I wish it had been around when I faced a similar situation at work. We may not win all the battles, but it is worth it.
Wonderful initiative,though on a superficial note I have to say I’m still not sold on the whole “Wearing all black”as a sign of solidarity thing.Don’t attend,cancel the After parties etc..I find it pointless.Great to keep an important conversation going though.
A lot of people are employed because of the ceremonies and parties. Wearing black might be innocuous/ineffectual but cancelling the whole thing effects more than just the actors attending the shows.
@adorable I agree with you 100%. This wearing black solidarity is just redundant and it is not doing nothing to the cause. At the end fashion people are going to gawk at how wonderful the person wearing this black dress by Christian Dior or Louis Vuitton…
@Ann. The people who are working that these frivolous events should have saved their money and looked somewhere else other than they should suck it up.. if they have children well then they should have looked for another job.
@Ann true. And @Kiki, wow…really? Just wow. Your sensitivity and empathy truly shine through.
@kiki so when you lose your job because of no fault of your own- one you depend on and budget for We can all say you should have saved your money? That is horrible. These are people who get a certain amount of work and plan their lives around it.
@ann I think it was explained why they are wearing black in the nyt article. I thought it was stupid at first but then I read their reasoning and I get their thought processes it’s about not letting the industry sell their events off how they dress which is how the globes and award shows are marketed. It’s a small thing of figure this out without us. We will see if it works
@Kiki – that’s an incredibly privileged and ignorant perspective on employment.
Would you also complain if these same people who were employed by the Hollywood Foreign Press were not working and collecting unemployment cheques?
Awesome. Maybe Shonda could have a word with Dave Chappelle as well.
I liked what Eva Longoria had to say about wearing black.
“This is a moment of solidarity, not a fashion moment,” Ms. Longoria said. A vast majority of the women who had been contacted and planned to attend the ceremony pledged to participate, she said.
“For years, we’ve sold these awards shows as women, with our gowns and colors and our beautiful faces and our glamour,” Ms. Longoria said. “This time the industry can’t expect us to go up and twirl around. That’s not what this moment is about.”
I like it too. By so many wearing black it brings attention to this shameful situation. Women will no longer shut up.
I also like that the fund is for working women. It’s not for them. They recognize that they have an advantage that they are famous and their voice is louder. Too many do not have that voice.
I’m moved by this.
This is great but I don’t think they should seek donations.
I don’t know why they shouldn’t seek donations; everyone should help, and legal battles cost a lot of money. Also, money equals power, and we need women’s voices to have more power in the workplace.
Jennifer Garner finally attempted to enter the conversation as well with her IG post on #timesup yesterday, although she’s not mentioned in the list of names above. Disregarding one alt-right troll who bought up Milo Yiannopoulos, there was still a surprising amount of general pushback from other commenters.
Jennifer Garner donated $10K. A lot of women within the industry are part of it. Just because their name wasn’t included in the media doesn’t mean they aren’t involved.
Oh yes, I know that. I only mentioned because there were some wondering whether she’d be hesitant to speak up given the stuff floating around about Affleck.
Sorry but there are few women on that list who are either married to CAA agents, best friends with CAA agents, and did absolutely nothing all these years or excused the predators until it exploded last year. In my option, they are now trying to salvage their reputation any way then can.
Especially those closely linked to CAA will not get applaud from me. CAA is one of the worst enablers around there and they also “abused” women. They need to be taken down alongside the sexual predators. And if these women really meant it, they would all leave the agency.
Funny how CAA donated money, While they have been supplying Harvey, spacey and many abusers with victims for decades .
Is it possible to love Shonda Rhimes while at the same time hate her for dragging that bloated corpse of a show, Grey’s Anatomy, into its 14th season instead of mercy-killing it?
Yes. With so much of the strong original cast gone, it’s the tv equivalent of thrice-warmed leftovers. Stale writing and a very boring replacement cast. At least bring back Addison and Izzie to liven things up, please.
This is great and I hope it really does make a positive difference to women’s environments, work and otherwise, knowing that this initiative is behind them.
Re: the solidarity at awards shows in all-black, it would be insanely better if someone (not sure who would be the best choice?) made a dress/suit (or a small selection of either) in black that all the women and men who would wear black for solidarity could choose from and all proceeds went to Time’s Up. We can dream.
I applaud this effort. I am glad they are also shining the light on other industries and setting up the legal fund. I am also really pleased at the number of WOC that are involved.
Benjamin Millepied posted yesterday about Natalie getting an Instagram for this reason. I only side-eyed his post because Peter Martins, head of New York City Ballet, finally announced he was retiring yesterday after a month ago being accused of sexual improprieties. Who is an obvious contender for that job, one of the biggest in the ballet field? Benjamin, of course.
I don’t know how this will work exactly but it’s a damn sight better than doing nothing.
And yes, some of these people and companies were complicit to varying degrees but that doesn’t mean they can’t change, or genuinely want the system to change.