The #MeToo movement has dominated the news headlines and has been one of the most powerful social movements in 2017. And the result has generated a breathtaking human domino effect, as some of the biggest (male) names in business, entertainment, media and politics have been outed for egregious behavior.
But lost in this shuffle has been the impact that sexual harassment has had on countless women who have not had a voice: the hotel maid, the receptionist, the farmworker, the nursing assistant or the retail clerk.
To that end, over 300 women, who are mostly from the worlds of film, television and theater, have launched Time’s Up, an initiative that seeks to address inequality and injustice in the workplace – for all women, not just those with a long filmography or huge Twitter following.
This coalition presents several disturbing facts on what many women experience in their workplace. One in three women have been sexually harassed at work, according to one survey; but 71 percent of those women did not report it. Another survey concluded that half of all women said they have at some point been harassed at work. And this problem is especially pervasive in low-wage service jobs, as over one-quarter of sexual harassment complaints filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) came from women working within the service sector.
“Too many centers of power – from legislatures to boardrooms to executive suites and management to academia – lack gender parity and women do not have equal decision-making authority,” said Time’s Up founders in a public statement posted on its web site. “This systematic gender-inequality and imbalance of power fosters an environment that is ripe for abuse and harassment against women.”
According to the New York Times, Time’s Up is backed up by what was a $13 million legal defense fund as of New Year’s Day; as of press time, that amount has already increased to $14.2 million. The fund seeks to help working women protect themselves from harassment in the workplace – and not be subjected to retaliation if they report misconduct.
Other goals of Time’s Up are to enact legislation that would penalize companies found tolerating pervasive harassment and to discourage the signing of non-disclosure agreements designed to silence victims of sexual harassment.
Founded by talent agents in October during the firestorm surrounding Harvey Weinstein, Time’s Up also seeks a cultural shift as to how pop culture, and society at large, view women. Organizers are reaching out to women who will walk on the red carpet at Sunday’s Golden Globes awards ceremony and are urging them to wear black as part of a wider anti-harassment protest. And according to the Washington Post, it appears many nominees and ceremony guests will oblige.
Image credit: Leon Kaye