In this March 8, 2015 file photo, actress Kerry Washington at the 32nd Annual Paleyfest : "Scandal" in Los Angeles. HBO says that Washington will play Anita Hill in a film about the 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)

A group of Hollywood’s most notable women on Monday unveiled Time’s Up, a new initiative to help working-class women fight back against sexual assault.

Just several months after #MeToo took the nation by storm, more than 300 actresses, directors and writers signed on to the pledge to say, “The clock has run out on sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace.”

One of #MeToo’s largest criticisms was that the women coming forward to share their stories of sexual assault and harassment were primarily famous and wealthy actresses. Time’s Up seeks to equalize all victims, regardless of class, occupation or race.

“TIME’S UP is a unified call for change from women in entertainment for women everywhere,” the website states. “From movie sets to farm fields to boardrooms alike, we envision nationwide leadership that reflects the world in which we live.”

The initiative kicked off on Jan. 1 and was announced in a full-page ad in The New York Times, as well as in Spanish newspaper La Opinion, the Times reported.

In addition to lending support and a voice, Time’s Up also provides monetary and legal support through the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund. The Fund is working in partnership with the National Women’s Law Center.

The Time’s Up website includes an open letter that seeks equality for women in a workforce where men hold the power, as well as “greater representation of women of color, immigrant women, and lesbian, bisexual and transgender women, whose experiences in the workforce are often significantly worse than their white, cisgender, straight peers.”

According to Time’s Up’s website:

Sexual harassment is pervasive across industries, but especially in low-wage service jobs. For example, more than 25% of sexual harassment charges filed with the EEOC in the last decade came from industries with service-sector workers.

1 in 5 C-Suite leaders is a woman. Fewer than 1 in 30 is a woman of color.

Research has shown that women in male-dominated occupations, especially those in male-dominated work contexts, are sexually harassed more than women in balanced or in female-dominated ones. 

From 2007 to 2016, 4% of top-grossing directors were female. Just 7 were women of color. 1 in 1,114 directors across 1,000 movies was Latina. 

White non-Hispanic women are paid 81 cents on the dollar compared to white non-Hispanic men. Asian women are only paid 88 cents on the dollar. Black and Hispanic women are only paid 65 cents and 59 cents on the white male dollar, respectively.

“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?” Shonda Rhimes, executive producer on several successful television shows including the hit series “Scandal,” told the Times.

Time’s Up also came in part in response to a letter from 700,000 female farmworkers who wrote to say they “believe and stand with” the #MeToo women.

According to the Times, “Other Time’s Up members include the actresses Ashley Judd, Eva Longoria, America Ferrera, Natalie Portman, Rashida Jones, Emma Stone, Kerry Washington and Reese Witherspoon; the showrunner Jill Soloway; Donna Langley, chairwoman of Universal Pictures; the lawyers Nina L. Shaw and Tina Tchen, who served as Michelle Obama’s chief of staff; and Maria Eitel, an expert in corporate responsibility who is co-chairwoman of the Nike Foundation.”

Time’s Up also created the Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace, which launched in mid-December and is headed by Anita Hill.

“We will be focusing on issues ranging from power disparity, equity and fairness, safety, sexual harassment guidelines, education and training, reporting and enforcement, ongoing research and data collection,” Hill said in a statement at the time according to the Hollywood Reporter. “It is time to end the culture of silence. I’ve been at this work for 26 years. This moment presents us with an unprecedented opportunity to make real change.”

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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