The #TimesUp Movement: What Is It Actually Doing?

It’s been two full weeks since actresses and actors donned black clothing on the red carpet of the 75th Annual Golden Globes. After the spark of the #MeToo movement swept across social media channels—where everyone from the girl next door to famous A-listers like Alyssa Milano made their voices heard—the world was shook with awareness of sexual harassment, assault and inequality.

The movement even went so far as to be named TIME’s Person of the Year for 2017. “The Silence Breakers,” as TIME so adequately dubbed them, included everyone from actress Ashley Judd, to activist Tarana Burke, to singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. The purpose behind the #MeToo movement? To bring to light issues involving sexual harassment, assault and inequality in the workplace, faced primarily by women. As the movement took off, women and men around the world shared tweets, Facebook posts and Instagram stories with the hashtag #MeToo, expressing the hurt, pain and frustration they faced with sexual harassment in the workplace.

As the #MeToo movement came to fruition, so did sexual harassment accusations against high-profile men in Hollywood, including producer Harvey Weinstein, Today show co-host Matt Lauer and comedian Louis C.K. While the movement originated with Hollywood A-listers, it is said to have far-reaching effects for women in all industries of all backgrounds. Even “The Silence Breakers” included strawberry picker Isabel Pascual, lobbyist Adama Iwu and former Uber engineer Susan Fowler. As TIME authors Stephanie Zacharek, Eliana Dockterman and Haley Sweetland Edwards wrote, “The reckoning appears to have sprung up overnight. But it has actually been simmering for years, decades, centuries. Women have had it with bosses and coworkers who not only cross boundaries but don’t even seem to know that boundaries exist.”

Then, on New Year’s Day, 2018, more than 300 women in Hollywood published a letter of solidarity unveiling the TIME’S UP movement in the New York Times. As a direct response to the #MeToo movement, the “anti-harassment plan” sparked a national conversation around workplace sexual harassment and assault across various industries. Cue: the 2018 Golden Globes, January 7th, 2018. Women and men across the spectrum in Hollywood donned black for one very specific reason: to continue the work of the #MeToo movement with #TimesUp. Their mission states, “Time’s up on silence. Time’s up on waiting. Time’s up on tolerating discrimination, harassment and abuse.” According to the TIME’S UP website, their purpose is:

Powered by women, TIME’S UP addresses the systemic inequality and injustice in the workplace that have kept underrepresented groups from reaching their full potential. We partner with leading advocates for equality and safety to 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.

On the evening of the Golden Globes, celebrities painted the red carpet black, sporting pins that supported TIME’S UP and sharing about their cause with those reporting and viewing the event. Around the world, people listened intently as Oprah Winfrey became the first black woman to receive the Cecil B. Demille Award and share her powerful speech on the TIME’S UP movement, saying, “So I want all the girls watching here, now, to know that a new day is on the horizon!” Like its #MeToo sister, the #TimesUp quickly went viral as well, with other A-listers like Emma Watson citing terrifying statistics. For example:

  • 1 in 3 women ages 18 to 34 have been sexually harassed at work. Of those, 71% said they did not report it (Cosmpolitan).
  • Nearly half of U.S. working women say they have experienced harassment in the workplace (NBC News).
  • White non-Hispanic women are paid 81 cents to the dollar compared to white non-Hispanic men. Asian women are paid 88 cents on the dollar, while Black and Hispanic women are only paid 65 cents and 59 cents on the white male dollar, respectively (Economic Policy Institute).

With the arrival and momentum of the TIME’S UP movement, one major question has come up: What is it actually doing? The sentiment of ending workplace sexual assault seems nice, but who is this movement actually helping? What policies or practices has it put into place to effectively work against sexual harassment?

The question is definitely valid, as many of the faces of the TIME’S UP movement have been major Hollywood actresses, who might encounter less challenges in facing their perpetrators than women from different industries. The short answer? The TIME’S UP initiative manages a legal defense fund aimed at helping underprivileged women fight against sexual harassment, assault and retaliation. The defense fund is managed through the TIME’S UP GoFundMe page, and has already raised over $18 million by 18,631 people in one month.

According to the page, “TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund will provide subsidized legal support to women and men who have experienced sexual harassment, assault or abuse in the workplace and while in pursuit of their careers.” The National Women’s Law Center will ultimately be in charge of administering the fund and connecting individuals with a network of lawyers and public relations professionals across the country through the Center’s Legal Network for Gender Equity. The TIME’S UP website also includes resources on how to spot sexual harassment, what to do about it and information on where to get help. Individuals in need of legal assistance can fill out this form, or those wishing to join the Legal Network can sign up as an attorney.

Hollywood conglomerates, actresses and businesswomen have already made significant contributions to the fund, but the greatest part of the campaign’s success has been from the 17,000 people who contributed donations less than $100. This demonstrates that through the power of social media, communication and community, a sincere difference can be made. The #MeToo movement was only a stepping stone towards a larger goal. The TIME’S UP movement has already started to make a difference, and time will continue to tell the impact it has. The clock has run out on sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace. It’s time to do something about it.