A Focus on #MeToo and #TimesUp
By Regina Sanchez
In early October of 2017, the New York Times released a story with multiple allegations of sexual assault toward film producer Harvey Weinstein. The publication caused a snowball effect of other women and men opening up about their harassment and assault stories from Hollywood to the average workplace.
#MeToo and #TIMESUP are hashtag phrases that have become very familiar, as they have had tremendous exposure in the media recently.
The #MeToo movement began in 2006, as a part of Tarana Burke’s organization, Just Be Inc. In an interview with CNBC Make It, Burke spoke about how the idea for the movement was sparked from her personal desire to help others who had been through what she had experienced in her youth.
However, The #MeToo movement only started trending in the media late last year, when actress Alyssa Milano tweeted about the phrase in order to spread awareness for the thousands of victims worldwide. Her tweet prompted those who had been sexually harassed or assaulted to reply with “MeToo” in order to give the issue a larger platform.
Following that tweet, the internet was flooded with thousands of responses from women and men saying “#MeToo”.
Shortly after the #MeToo movement, the “Time’s Up” movement was created. This movement, started by several actresses, female agents, writers, directors, and entertainment executives, began when the National Farmworker Women’s Alliance sent a letter of solidarity addressed to their “sisters” ( the many women in Hollywood), in response to the outbreak of allegations.
“Even though we work in very different environments, 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,” the letter read. “Like you, there are few positions available to us and reporting any kind of harm or injustice committed against us doesn’t seem like a viable option. Complaining about anything — even sexual harassment — seems unthinkable because too much is at risk, including the ability to feed our families and preserve our reputations.”
The Time’s Up mission is to help improve laws, employment agreements, and corporate policies; help change the face of corporate boardrooms and the C-suite; and enable more women and men to access our legal system to hold wrongdoers accountable.
The Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund helps provide anyone in any career field with subsidized legal support in any workplace-related sexual harassment, assault, or abuse.
At the 74th Golden Globes this past January, many of the attendees wore black suits or dresses and displayed a “Time’s Up” pin on their outfit to show solidarity for all of the victims in and out of the industry who have stepped forward and shared their stories. During the red carpet segment of the show, actresses were asked more intellectual and meaningful questions, rather than simply “who” they were wearing.
Every female winner made sure to use the Golden Globes as a platform to speak up about the movement during their acceptance speeches. However, the men of the night seemed to not have much to say about the movement and must have figured that wearing the pin was enough activism for the night.
Oprah Winfrey was honored that night with a lifetime achievement award and used her platform to address this topic as well.
“So I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon!
And when that new day finally dawns, it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, many of whom are right here in this room tonight, and some pretty phenomenal men, fighting hard to make sure that they become the leaders who take us to the time when nobody ever has to say 'Me too' again,” said Winfrey.
During the 60th Annual Grammy Awards on January 28, many celebrities in attendance wore white roses in solidarity with the “Time’s Up” movement as well. The idea came from a group called Voices in Entertainment.
“We choose the white rose because historically it stands for hope, peace, sympathy and resistance,” said a letter from the 15 women of Voices in Entertainment. “Please join us in support of equal representation in the workplace, for leadership that reflects the diversity of our society, workplaces free of sexual harassment and a heightened awareness of accountability that our sisters started on January 1st and continued through the Golden Globes and onward.”
While the message was spread by the musicians that wore white roses, Janelle Monae’s empowering speech during the show, and Kesha’s emotional performance of her song “Praying”, that was all that viewer’s received from the Grammys regarding Time’s Up or #MeToo.
In fact, the Grammys received a lot of criticism this year, as Alessia Cara was the only female winner of the night.
When asked by Variety about why more women weren’t rewarded for their work, Recording Academy president Neil Portnow said that they needed to “to step up.”
The comment sparked criticism not only from fans but also many artists, such as Pink, Katy Perry, Halsey, Charlie XCX, Iggy Azalea, and many more.
Junior Emma Metcalfe agrees that Portnow’s comment was unnecessary.
“He doesn’t get to say whether or not women need to ‘step up’,” said Metcalfe. “Yes, male artists should get the recognition that they deserve, but female artists should get the same chance. Considering the fact that Bruno Mars won 7 Grammys this year, it shows that not a lot of thought went into looking at other nominees.”
The thousands of women and men who are coming out and sharing their personal stories of abuse have done so as an act of bravery and survival. It is these stories that we have to remember when we tell our young girls that when a boy is mean to them, it means they like them. These are the stories that we have to remember when we ignore the reality of these sexual assault cases that happen every single day.
Being a listener to a victim is important as you have the power to help someone at their lowest point. Sexual assault can happen to anyone, anywhere, at anytime.