2017 was the year of #MeToo. A year that saw the bravery of thousands of women (and some men too) triumph and shatter the seemingly unbreakable gloss of male-dominated Hollywood. Once powerful men have been shunned for their appalling behaviour. Already 2018 feels different. Despite the struggles of the past few months, hope always lingered in the background; you could sense a change in the tide. And now a new year has started, this is to remain at the forefront of not only the post-Harvey Weinstein era but a new one entirely.
Three hundred powerful women in Hollywood are ushering in the era of #TimesUp, an initiative which aims to end sexual harassment in and outside of Hollywood. Actresses, producers, executives, and other entertainment industry power players — including Reese Witherspoon, Shonda Rhimes, America Ferrera, Ashley Judd, Eva Longoria, Amber Tamblyn, Kerry Washington, Lena Waithe, Natalie Portman, and Emma Stone driven by rage, empathy and a need for change are only a handful of the prominent celebrities that have voiced their support of the campaign in a full-page open letter in The New York Times. The initiative, aiming to tackle sexual assault on a broader scale has already raised $13 million towards a legal defence fund to "help survivors of sexual assault and harassment across all industries challenge those responsible for the harm against them and give voice to their experiences," according to the open letter, also posted on social media.
An open letter appears in La Opinion and The New York Times today from us to our sisters in the Farm Worker’s Union. It is also a call to arms. We’ve started a legal defense fund supporting those across industries who’ve experienced sexual harassment, assault and abuse in the workplace. We’ve raised 13 Million and we’re just getting started. Join us in signing the letter and pledging any amount to the fund. Join us in saying the clocks run out on the abuse of power. #TIMESUP (link in bio)
It also asks followers of the movement to support legislation to penalize companies that tolerate persistent harassment and to discourage the use of nondisclosure agreements to silence victims and a request that women walking the red carpet at the Golden Globes speak out and raise awareness by wearing black, something which a number of actresses, including Meryl Streep, have already pledged to do.
“We have been siloed off from each other,” Reese Witherspoon said, who previously spoke of Smurfette Syndrome - a tactic she now believes was used to keep women away from each other on set and prevent them speaking out about their experiences. “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.”
Here's hoping this burst of energy and momentum really takes flight over the coming weeks and months, but it is, regardless, a powerful statement to standby for 2018.