What started with #MeToo in 2017 is far from over. More than 300 women working in film and television have come together for a revolutionary anti-harassment campaign.

#TimesUp started after 700 000 Female Farmworkers wrote an open letter to Hollywood standing in solidarity with the #MeToo movement. Among the supporters of the #TimesUp anti-sexual-violence plan are actors, directors, producers and writers, including Emma Watson, Jennifer Lawrence, Kerry Washington, Natalie Portman, Ava DuVernay and Eva Longoria.

‘The struggle for women to break in, to rise up the ranks and to simply be heard and acknowledged in male-dominated workplaces must end; time’s up on this impenetrable monopoly,’ the letter says.

With awards season about to kick off with the Golden Globes, #TimesUp is calling to create awareness of the scourge of gender-based violence by swapping colourful ballgowns with black on the red carpet.

‘This is a moment of solidarity, not a fashion moment,’ said Eva Longoria in the collective solidarity letter. ‘For years, we as women have sold these awards shows, with our gowns and colours and our beautiful faces and our glamour. This time the industry can’t expect us to go up and twirl around. That’s not what this moment is about.’

 

#MeToo was and is an important conversation in the culture. But as we know, so many survivors who are a huge part of the discussion couldn’t speak out.

That’s where #TimesUp comes in. Influential women in Hollywood are using their privilege to make room for women who face discrimination, stigma and inequality for challenging sexual violence.

 

‘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?’ said #TimesUp member and creator of How To Get Away With Murder Shonda Rhimes.

The campaign is creating structures in the workplace to hold institutions and perpetrators of sexual assault and abuse accountable. Not only that, but #TimesUp is also making safe spaces for survivors to seek help without consequences.

The #TimesUp community is taking matters into its own hands by reinforcing that it’s not just government that can make a difference – we can, too.

 

#TimesUp has been busy so far, and its strategy for tackling gender-based violence includes:

  • A $13-million legal defence fund to support marginalised women reporting sexual abuse and harassment
  • Legislation that protects women from gender-based violence in the workplace by persecuting brands with a tolerance for sexual harassment
  • An aim to bridge gender inequality by creating opportunities for women in the industry

 

Now, #MeToo is able to move from widespread conversation on the problem of sexual violence, to global action for a solution.

In the #TimesUp mission statement, the organisation includes a list of what you can do to get involved and play your part in ending gender-based violence. Take note, ladies and gents: write these pointers down because they’re here to stay.

#TimesUp isn’t limited to the US. In the South African production industry, sexual violence and harassment is rife. Local survivors of abuse and assault in the workplace include Rhythm City actress Nokuthula Ledwaba, Isidingo and former 7de Laan star Katlego Danke, and Krotoa actress Crystal-Donna Roberts.

SWIFT (Sisters Working In Film And Television) created South Africa’s own movement towards ending gender-based violence in the production industry in a report called #ThatsNotOkay. Chairperson Sara Blecher says, ‘Our industry, just like the American one, is rife with sexual harassment against female workers, from actresses to wardrobe staff and even set designers. We recently conducted a survey within the industry and found that almost 70% of women felt unsafe at work yet we have a constitution that gives everyone the right to a safe working environment.’

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By Busang Senne. originally published on Cosmopolitan SA