TIME’S UP Movement Breaks Economic Boundaries, Unifies Women and Allies

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While recognizable celebrities have in part given the movement its initial funding and publicity, TIME’S UP aims to extend women’s rights to every woman, independent of status, class or race.

Jackie Dowling, Editor-in-Chief

From accusations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein to the prison sentence of sports physician Dr. Larry Nassar, a national epidemic plaguing nearly all professional industries has been unearthed. The conversation concerning sexual harassment has endured in recent months due to the bravery, perseverance and demand for change by women both within and outside the public spotlight. 

The nation has watched as prominent actors and artists including Jessica Chastain, Ashley Judd, Selma Blair and Rose McGowan, to name a few, have publically shared their stories of survival and exposed their abusers through media channels like The New Yorker and TIME magazine. 

While allies and supporters alike have admired these women for using their celebrity to protect and defend women’s rights, critics of the movement argue that women whose abusers do not possess such fame do not have access to this opportunity for reparation. 

Recognizing the disparity in available resources for women, founders of the TIME’S UP movement sought to address these concerns and ensure that support for women’s health, safety and professional opportunity ceases to be financially discriminatory. 

The TIME’S UP movement’s first contribution to women’s rights began at an industry-specific level with the creation of the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace in December 2017. 

Chaired by U.S. attorney Anita Hill, the commission seeks to eradicate problems of gender inequality and female subjugation within the entertainment industry. 

While the commission has not yet released a formal statement outlining its mission and action plan, Hill noted that the commission’s approach would be comprehensive, including education, training and data collection among other constructive strategies to expose hierarchical structures that have traditionally insulated discriminatory behavior.   

In addition to promoting advocacy and awareness, the TIME’S UP campaign then turned to the question of accessibility of legal channels for sexual abuse survivors. 

Through the creation of the Legal Defense Fund, attorneys Nina Shaw, Roberta Kaplan and former Chief of Staff to Michelle Obama Tina Tchen have aggregated “a network of lawyers and public relations professionals across the country [who] will work to provide assistance to those who have experienced harassment or retaliation.” 

Under the administration of the National Women’s Law Center, this fund will provide “subsidized legal support” for survivors across the nation. Following donations by over 200 agencies, activists, foundations and companies, the fund has raised more than 13 million dollars.  

In an interview with ABC news, co-founder Nina Shaw characterized the movement as “outrage funneled into action.”

The movement made its debut in a gesture fitting for its magnitude: walking the red carpet. 

At the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards, acclaimed actors and actresses wore their hearts on their sleeves, literally. In a statement of solidarity, attendees participating in the movement wore all black and accessorized with small pin that read “Time’s Up.”

Eight actresses, including Meryl Streep, Emma Stone, Michelle Williams and Susan Sarandon, among others, were accompanied by activists, introducing audiences around the nation to women who have worked their entire lives in the fight toward gender, racial and economic equality. 

By bursting the bubble of Hollywood to include women outside the industry, the movement practiced its belief that bringing all women together will be far more effective than splintering allies among economic lines.  

Williams, accompanied by activist and #MeToo founder Tarana Burke, described the change she has witnessed and her optimism for the future to a reporter at the Golden Globes Red Carpet.

“I thought I would have to raise my daughter to learn how to protect herself in a dangerous world, but I think the work that Tarana has done and the work that I’m learning how to do – we actually have the opportunity to hand our children a different world,” Williams said.

The efforts of TIME’S UP echoes the mission of the #MeToo movement, which cemented its foothold in national dialogue in fall 2017, although it was founded over a decade earlier in 2006.

While acknowledging the rise in two social revolutions, Professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies Meika Loe spoke to the potential tension that may arise between the two movements, a conflict exacerbated by the media.

“Each movement is portrayed by the media as disparate and radicalized in a narrow way, so sadly we aren’t making the connections that need to be made in order to think broadly about human rights across difference,” Loe said.

Loe questioned the potential exclusivity of the respective movements and risk that the narrow rhetoric may silence some voices. Loe quoted Audre Lorde saying the writer and feminist “reminds us  [that] all oppressions are interconnected, and we must work together on a systemic level to expose and confront structural violence and the psychic toll it takes on all of us.”

Both the TIME’S UP and #MeToo movements were well represented at the Women’s March on January 20 as participants took to the streets in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and other cities across the country to vocalize their discontent, share their experiences and demand more of our nation and its leaders.    

Senior Molly Klein, Women’s Studies major and Sexual Assault Prevention and Support Chair for an on-campus Greek Organization, spoke to her experience as a member of the New York City women’s march.

“It was an incredibly empowering feeling to be in a crowd of 400,000 people all marching for not only women’s rights, but for the rights of all marginalized groups. I left New York City that afternoon with a lot more hope for the future,” Klein said.

In its most recent public manifestation, the TIME’S UP movement united supporters at the 60th annual Grammy awards. Many sported white roses, including host comedian James Corden. 

The evening’s performers and presenters expressed their commitment to changing the media industry through emotional performances and monologues possessing political undertones. With the encouraging push of movements like TIME’S UP, the ball of accountability continues to roll forward with no sign of slowing down.

Contact Jackie Dowling at [email protected]