LOS ANGELES – JAN 7: Shailene Woodley, Calina Lawrence at the HBO Post Golden Globe Party 2018 at Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 7, 2018 in Beverly Hills, CA
In light of the recently uncovered (but long acknowledged) Hollywood casting couch as well as improprieties across the globe toward women and men, survivors have banded together in support of one another. The tentacles of speaking up, speaking out, and no longer living in shame or fear are far reaching and growing more and more each day.
The Harvey Weinstein scandal blew open the doors on sexual assault and harassment in Hollywood, which paved way for more than 70 powerful men in the entertainment industry to be dethroned and ostracized.
First there was the #MeToo movement, which gave survivors a chance to share their stories and quickly realize they weren’t alone. The phrase is not new, sadly. It was coined in 2006 by Tarana Burke, herself a survivor of sexual assault.
Soon after, the Alianza Nacional de Campesinas sent a letter to the women in Hollywood who were involved with exposing Harvey Weinstein. Time magazine opted for “The Silence Breakers” instead of a single person of the year, focusing instead on “the voices that launched a movement” and published the letter. Readers discovered the sorrowful plights of more than 700,000 female farmworkers in the U.S. who had survived sexual assault and harassment .
On January 1, 2018, more than 300 women in Hollywood formed the “Time’s Up” coalition to fight harassment after the movement was announced in the New York Times. The movement had already garnered a $13-million legal defense fund to help support lower-income women in search of justice for workplace sexual harassment and assault, as well as moves toward gender parity in talent agencies and movie studios and zero tolerance/punishment for companies that turned a blind eye to persistent harassment.
LOS ANGELES – JAN 7: Oprah Winfrey at the 75th Golden Globes Press Room at Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 7, 2018 in Beverly Hills, CA
Time’s Up called for support from women at the Golden Globe Awards by asking them to wear black gowns and formal wear to protest sexual assault and harassment. The reaction was so swift that high-end designers, it was rumored, came close to running out of black evening gowns.
One by one, presenters, nominees and winners appeared “être habillée de noir” and made statements either just by their clothing choices or verbally, against any kind of assault and harassment.
As Oprah Winfrey accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement, it was an inspiring moment. An admitted survivor of early childhood sexual assault, the media maven said she was “inspired by all the women who have felt strong enough and empowered enough to speak up and share their personal stories,” adding that the scope reached further than many imagined: “But it’s not just a story affecting the entertainment industry. It’s one that transcends any culture, geography, race, religion, politics or workplace.”
Reese Witherspoon presented Winfrey with her award and, after winning her own award for Big Little Lies (itself a story of harassment and survival) accepted it with this promise: “People out there who are feeling silenced: we see you, we hear you and we will tell your story.”
This wave of honesty and “yelling to the rooftops” doesn’t start or end in Hollywood. With more and more guilty bullies being outed, the climate is moving quickly toward swift transparency, not shameful fear. It’s time for everyone to fight back against their tormentors, whether physical, emotional, or mental, and yell “Time’s Up!” because indeed, the truth will set you free.