Editorial: The clock has run out

Over 300 women in Hollywood made a New Year’s pledge: “The clock has run out on sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace. It’s time to do something about it.”

Reese Witherspoon tweeted a picture Jan. 1 reading, “Time’s up on silence. Time’s up on waiting. Time’s up on tolerating discrimination, harassment and abuse. #TIMESUP.” The same night, America Ferrera tweeted a photo of herself wearing a shirt that said Time’s Up, and holding an New York Times newspaper that said “Dear Sisters,” detailing the Time’s Up movement. Joining Witherspoon and Ferrera in their tweets on the New Year was Shonda Rhimes, Kerry Washington and Brie Larson.

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All of the women echoed the same statement: “Dear sisters,” Time’s Up on staying silent about the abuse, inequality and discrimination that women face. The Golden Globes gave celebrities the first chance to show their solidarity with the movement. A large percentage of attendees, not only women, dressed in black, wore Time’s Up pins and brought activists as their dates for the night.

Witherspoon posted a video with other stars including Larson, Rashida Jones, Tessa Thompson and Kerry Washington encouraging viewers to join them in wearing black.

“However you choose to participate – you can get dressed up in a gown if you want. We’re accepting PJs and sweats too. Whatever you want,” Witherspoon said.

A group of celebrities including Meryl Streep and Tracee Ellis Ross, along with designers such as Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs and Stella McCartney, announced Jan. 17 that they would be teaming up with Time’s Up and eBay to sell and raffle their Golden Globe gowns, or designs with the proceeds going to the Time’s Up legal fees.

Vogue reports a total of 39 black gowns and tuxedos from the Golden Globes will be auctioned off in honor of the Time’s Up movement. Time’s Up comes at the perfect time in Hollywood. It coincides with a movement of women’s liberation that began in Hollywood back in October 2017 when producer Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexually coercing and assaulting multiple women. The #MeToo movement, coupled with the growing list of accusations against powerful men, meant that Time’s Up was uniquely set up to take off. The number of names and the titles gave the publicity for this movement an edge.

The initiative of Time’s Up has many implications for women in Hollywood. Forbes magazine reports that “Time’s Up…could be the movement that finally brings pay parity to Tinseltown.” However the question that many are asking is, what can Time’s Up and the #MeToo movement do for women who are in a much different position than the celebrities who spoke up.

Time’s Up’s describes its movement as a “unified call for change from women in entertainment from women everywhere.” Yet, some believe that these campaigns are short-lived and will fizzle out.

Cynthia Burack, professor of political theory at Ohio State University, said in an interview with The Lantern: “It’s not a problem that’s going to be solved by the kinds of campaigns we’re seeing now. They can lead to better solutions in the future.”

Burack said that movements like #MeToo and Time’s Up have happened in the past, but didn’t endure, leading her to believe that these movements might not last. But for others, the push of Time’s Up represents a potential of change, not only in Hollywood but farther, specifically to college campuses.

Sara Wendel, the president of Advocates for Women of the World which works to raise awareness of women’s issues at Ohio State, told The Lantern that she’s anticipating seeing the activism’s effect on campus.

“It’s empowering to see an issue too often seen on college campuses discussed by people of all ages, sexes, and genders, and professions,” Wendel said. “I hope that the conversation will only expand and continue until everyone understands what constitutes sexual harassment and assault and that both are wrong.”

In its current state, I believe that Time’s Up is unable to sustain itself. The movement holds the potential of radically changing the way that we view power structures, but Time’s Up will be its own worst enemy if it stays in the same realm it was created. As Time’s Up grows, it must continue to surround itself with allies, and not just for women. Sexual assault, harassment and silencing are perpetrated by a multitude of offenders. The alliance of supporters and victims across the board will determine the strength of the movement’s future.

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In order to do this, Time’s Up must build up from a starting point of openness and discussion, and not through fear. The fear of being persecuted or shamed for an opposing belief has caused potential supporters to be trapped in a cycle of hiding. Time’s Up is at a critical point in which the next level and the longevity of this movement will be based on the creation of open dialogue.

However, that’s not to say that Time’s Up doesn’t hold potential. The initiative shows a world where victims have the opportunity to be believed first. The conversations have begun. The discussion about what sexual assault and harassment looks like is being pushed to center stage. Burack said the current movements will not create a world without sexual assault, but they could change the magnitude to which it is experienced.

“The goal is just to do a lot better than we’re doing now, and to do that on many different fronts,” Burack said. “We can do a lot better protect people before those harms occur and we can also do a lot better at making people feel whole after the fact.”

For many, Time’s Up and #MeToo represents women standing together and refusing to submit. Time’s Up represents a generation who is tired of waiting for the promised revolution on gender equality. However, Time’s Up must continue to function through an open discussion. An initiative that says “we are done holding our tongues and not speaking up.” “Time is up on tolerating discrimination, harassment and abuse.” The clock has run out.