The initiative includes efforts to create legislation that will penalize companies that tolerate harassment, and that will discourage the use of the nondisclosure agreements that have helped to silence victims of abuse. It has embraced a mission to reach gender parity at Hollywood studios and talent agencies. And, perhaps most significantly, it includes a legal defense arm that will be administered by the National Women’s Law Center’s Legal Network for Gender Equity and that will connect victims of sexual harassment with legal representation. To that end, Time’s Up has established a GoFundMe effort aimed at raising $15 million—from Hollywood honchos and the public at large—to provide legal support to women and men who have experienced sexual harassment, assault, or abuse in the workplace. “Access to prompt and comprehensive legal and communications help,” the campaign notes, “will mean empowerment for these individuals and long term growth for our culture and communities as a whole.” (As of this writing, the campaign has raised nearly $14 million.)
The formation of Time’s Up was announced via a full-page advertisement in the Times and via an ad in La Opinion, a Spanish-language newspaper. The ads were accompanied by a detailed news report in the Times, and also by a social-media campaign—#TimesUp—that included participation from many of Hollywood’s most powerful voices, among them Rhimes, Eva Longoria, Rosario Dawson, Jennifer Lawrence, America Ferrera, Emma Stone, Uzo Aduba, Reese Witherspoon, Jill Soloway, Kerry Washington, Tina Tchen, Rashida Jones, Ashley Judd, Natalie Portman, Ava DuVernay, and many, many more.
The simple shift in hashtag, #MeToo to #TimesUp, is telling: While the former has, thus far, largely emphasized the personal and the anecdotal, #TimesUp—objective in subject, inclusive of verb, suggestive of action—embraces the political. It attempts to expand the fight against sexual harassment, and the workplace inequality that has allowed it to flourish for so long, beyond the realm of the individual story, the individual reality. (Reese Witherspoon: “We have been siloed off from each other. We’re finally hearing each other, and seeing each other, and now locking arms in solidarity with each other, and in solidarity for every woman who doesn’t feel seen, to be finally heard.”) One of the prevailing ethics of #MeToo has been the opt-in nature of the movement: To share one’s own story, with all the costs that accompany it, that ethic has acknowledged, is both an act of bravery and an act of privilege. While many have spoken up and spoken out, and should be commended for it, many more have not: The risks of doing so are too severe.
As a result, implied among all the stories that have formed #MeToo’s emerging portrait—all those splashes of color and light—have been all the stories that have remained in the darkness: the long shadows cast by all the people who lack the privileges of publicity. The known unknowns. #TimesUp, though—and Time’s Up, the organization—is an attempt to change that. It was inspired, its collaborators note, not just by the stories of celebrities, but also by a letter sent in November from the Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, an organization of farmworker women and women from farmworker families: a letter of solidarity to Hollywood actors who were speaking up and acting out. “Even though we work in very different environments,” the organization, representing some 700,000 workers, noted, “we share a common experience of being preyed upon by individuals who have the power to hire, fire, blacklist, and otherwise threaten our economic, physical, and emotional security.”