AÂ group of 300 powerful Hollywood women launched an anti-sexual harassment initiative on Monday. The effort is billed as an expansion of the â€śMe Tooâ€ť movement, in which women are speaking out against sexual misconduct claims by men at high levels of entertainment, government and media.
The initiative, called Timeâ€™s Up, brings together â€śprominent actresses and female agents, writers, directors, producers and entertainment executivesâ€ť to fightÂ fight systemic gender inequality in both Hollywood and â€śblue-collar workplacesâ€ť nationwide, according to The New York Times. Its founding members include actresses America Ferrera, Natalie Portman, Rashida Jones, Emma Stone, Ashley Judd, Eva Longoria, Kerry Washington, and Reese Witherspoon; lawyer Tina Tchen, Michelle Obamaâ€™s former chief of staff;Â co-chairwoman of the Nike Foundation,Â Maria Eitel; and various other showrunners and industry lawyers.
In a letterÂ on Monday â€” published as a full-page ad in both the Times and the Spanish-language paper La Opinion â€” the groupâ€™s leading members explained that such inequality â€śfosters an environment that is ripe for abuse and harassmentâ€ť that can no longer be ignored.
â€śUnfortunately, too many centers of power â€” from legislatures to boardrooms to executive suites and management to academia â€” lack gender parity and women do not have equal decision-making authority,â€ť they wrote. â€śâ€¦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; timeâ€™s up on this impenetrable monopoly.â€ť
The group called for a â€śsignificant increase of women in positions of leadership and powerâ€ť across various industries, â€śequal representation, opportunity, benefits, and payâ€ť, and â€śgreater representationâ€ť for women of color, immigrant women, and LGBTQ women.
Timeâ€™s Up has also established a legal defense fund, housed and administered by the National Womenâ€™s Law Center, which providesÂ subsidized legal support to those â€śwho have experienced sexual harassment, assault, or abuse in the workplace.â€ť According to the Times, the fund is backed by $13 million in donations and is intended for less-privileged women and men who may suffer retaliatory action as a result of coming forward about sexual harassment or assault.
The group has additionally partnered with several leading advocates in order to â€śimprove laws, employment agreements, and corporate policiesâ€ť and â€śenable more women and men to access our legal system to hold wrongdoers accountable.â€ť
â€śItâ€™s very hard for us to speak righteously about the rest of anything if we havenâ€™t cleaned our own house,â€ť TV producer and screenwriter Shonda Rhimes, one of the leaders of the initiative, said in an interview with the Times. â€śIf this group of women canâ€™t fight for a model for other women who donâ€™t have as much power and privilege, then who can?â€ť
Timeâ€™s Up comes as a response to criticism levied against Hollywood for not doing more to address victimsâ€™ voices and concerns. In December, a call for Golden Globe attendees to wear all black in protest of sexual misconduct was criticized as empty symbolism.
Actress Rose McGowan, who has been at the forefront of the #MeToo movement, blasted the decision in a tweet, calling it hypocritical.
â€śActresses, like Meryl Streep, who happily worked for The Pig Monster [Harvey Weinstein], are wearing blackÂ @GoldenGlobesÂ in a silent protest. YOUR SILENCE is THE problem,â€ť she wrote. â€śYouâ€™ll accept a fake award breathlessly & affect no real change. I despise your hypocrisy. Maybe you should all wear Marchesa.â€ť
This article was originally published at ThinkProgress on January 1, 2018. Reprinted with permission.Â
About the Author: Melanie SchmitzÂ isÂ Associate Editor at ThinkProgress, and previously worked for Bustle and Romper.Â