Over 300 actresses, writers, producers, directors, agents, and other influential women in Hollywood have banded together to launch an initiative aiming to combat sexual harassment, both in the entertainment industry and in other workplaces across the country.
The New York Times reports that Reese Witherspoon, Eva Longoria, Shonda Rhimes, Ashley Judd, Rashida Jones, Kerry Washington, Ava DuVernay, and Meryl Streep are among the dozens of Hollywood women who published an open letter on Monday pledging support to Time’s Up, a volunteer-run group that formed recently after a slew of women came forward to accuse mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment and abuse. The #MeToo movement that followed prompted women to share their own stories about suffering harassment and abuse at the hands of powerful men, in Hollywood and elsewhere.
Time’s Up has thus far established a $13 million legal defense fund, housed by the National Women’s Law Center, to help working class women protect themselves from the fallout of reporting sexual harassment or abuse in their workplaces, and hopes to pursue legislation that would penalize companies that fail to take action against employees or employers repeatedly accused of harassment. The group is also pushing gender pay parity at movie and television studios, and is encouraging women in Hollywood to participate in the upcoming Golden Globes protest by wearing black to call attention to gender and racial inequality in the industry.
“It’s very hard for us to speak righteously about the rest of anything if we haven’t cleaned our own house,” Rhimes told the NYT. “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 added, “We’re a bunch of women used to getting stuff done. And we’re getting stuff done.”