Shonda Rhimes & Reese Witherspoon Take a Big Step to Stop Sexual Harassment
The new year, 2018, began not with a whisper but with yet another bang — and no, this time it was not fireworks. Instead, a prominent group of women in Hollywood came together to announce their new initiative, Time's Up. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the primary goal of Time's Up will be to end systemic sexual harassment in the workplace. From the sound of it, the "workplace" in question is every workplace in America, not just Hollywood. The announcement of Time's Up has been largely well-received, with many praising the fact that this initiative looks outward, past the gilded boundaries of Hollywood, and at various industries (both white- and blue-collar) and the women who work within them deserving protection and assistance.
THR cites the following women in Hollywood as the ones leading the Time's Up charge (get ready because it's an exciting list): Shonda Rhimes, Reese Witherspoon, Ashley Judd, America Ferrera, Natalie Portman, Emma Stone, Jill Soloway and Donna Langley (chairwoman at Universal Pictures). While Time's Up has no core leaders at the moment, it appears that it's eschewing singular leadership in favor of showing that this is a united front, with women coming together to lead as one united voice — as opposed to one voice leading a united group.
The New York Times outlines the core action plan of Time's Up that seek to uphold the primary goal (ending systemic sexual harassment, primarily in blue-collar industries). These core actions include:
- "A legal defense fund, backed by $13 million in donations, to help less privileged women — like janitors, nurses and workers at farms, factories, restaurants and hotels — protect themselves from sexual misconduct and the fallout from reporting it.
- "Legislation to penalize companies that tolerate persistent harassment, and to discourage the use of nondisclosure agreements to silence victims.
- "A drive to reach gender parity at studios and talent agencies that has already begun making headway.
- "And a request that women walking the red carpet at the Golden Globes speak out and raise awareness by wearing black."
Rhimes commented to NYT about why taking tangible action to defend the women in Hollywood and the women working in less visible industries was so important that just wearing black to an awards show wouldn't suffice at this point in time.
"It’s very hard for us to speak righteously about the rest of anything if we haven’t cleaned our own house. If this group of women can’t fight for a model for other women who don’t have as much power and privilege, then who can?" she posed to the newspaper.
A lengthier manifesto explicitly stating the intentions of Time's Up is currently available on the group's website. In this statement (also posted above in a tweet), the women behind Time's Up explain why this group's existence is more important than ever before as a paradigmatic shift in the attitudes around sexual harassment and assault sweeps through our nation.
"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; time’s up on this impenetrable monopoly," they write at one point.
Time's Up appears to be, at its core, action-oriented. In recent months, we've seen a whole host of celebrities asked for their opinions and freely giving their denouncements on the reprehensible behavior of sexual predators working in many industries, primarily entertainment and politics. Now, as we start a new year, it seems that women are ready to put their words into tangible actions, working not just in their own best interests but in the interests of women everywhere.
To be perfectly honest, if this is happening on Jan. 1, 2018, then color me very excited to see where we stand on Dec. 31, 2018.