Content Warning: sexual assault
It started with a letter. On New Year’s Day of 2018, a statement of solidarity was signed by 300 women in the entertainment industry, addressing those in other industries who have experienced sexual assault. At the 75th Golden Globes, the movement’s name ricocheted from black dress to black tie and found momentum in the speech made by Oprah Winfrey and the comments from Natalie Portman – both original signatories of the letter. The statement has been made: sexual assault, in all industries, must be combated, and the women of Hollywood are helping it happen.
The Time’s Up campaign was founded on solidarity, taking the historic cover-up and acceptance of sexual violence inside Hollywood and applying it to other industries, to make sure no one continues to experience the same.
Though the Golden Globes was a success in collective movements and unity, the story should not be who did or didn’t wear black to an event. Rather, the most important feature of the Time’s Up campaign is its work with legal and charity organisations. It is through exercising, rather than merely expressing solidarity that this campaign will make the most impact worldwide.
The Time’s Up Legal Defence Fund was set up alongside the movement, which, according to the website, is aiming to ‘subsidize legal support for individuals who have experienced sexual harassment or related retaliation in the workplace.’ This has been donated to by many actors in Hollywood. The fund is administrated by the National Women’s Law Center, an established legal organisation with lawyers committed to offering aid to those who have experienced sexual assault. Working with this body is the Legal Network for Gender Equity, which aims to further the systemic change in organisations that are dominated by men, and which often foster the environment in which sexist abuse festers.
Further, the Time’s Up website lists other charities and organisations which safeguard workplaces against sexual assault. These include Lean In, which offers support for survivors, the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and 50/50 by 2020, which advocates equal representation for women, people of colour and LGBTQ+ people in the entertainment industry. By offering solidarity, Time’s Up has given a platform to these charities and organisations. It is in this way that more people experiencing sexual harassment will be listened to, the message that it is unacceptable will be expressed, and the movement will be successful.
At the Golden Globes, this elevation of dedicated experts was prevalent. Marai Larasi – the director of Imkaan, a British organisation that opposes violence against BME women and girls – joined Emma Watson; Michelle Williams brought Tarana Burke, who founded the #MeToo movement, and Amy Poehler was accompanied by Saru Jayarman, the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Restaurant Opportunities and Centers United. In doing this, the campaign was brought outside Hollywood’s circles and projected to other industries.
In building solidarity, the Time’s Up movement is beyond Hollywood. Its unity with other charities and legal organisations will make the most impact to survivors of sexual assault and the workplaces where assault is most rife. In creating a platform to address sexual assault and using the privileged position of those in entertainment, Time’s Up will succeed in its aims, as will the long-established charities and organisations fighting sexual violence. Unity and solidarity will be key to achieving this.
Image: Amber Young