Time’s up, take initiative

The Internet is an invaluable tool for inspiring activism. However, Internet movements such as #MeToo should extend further than simply a hashtag floating in cyberspace. Internet users must develop movements beyond the screen and implement them in real life. TIME’S UP is an example of an initiative that creates direct change by financially supporting sexual assault victims and cultural change through celebrity outcry and participation.

This movement’s goal is to confront the current model of inequality and sexual assault in the workplace that prevents marginalized groups from achieving success, according to timesupnow.com. Ultimately, TIME’S UP fortifies the #MeToo movement because it empowers women across the country who would not speak out otherwise.  

Many individuals agree that #MeToo only raises awareness, including feminist activist Ms. Wagatwe Wanjuki. Ms. Wanjuki posted on Facebook the reasons why she will not say #MeToo, and over 27,000 people shared her post.  

“[T]he focus on victims and survivors–instead of their assailants and enablers–is something we need to change,” Ms. Wanjuki’s Facebook post said.  

Ms. Wanjuki believes the hashtag does not directly confront the assailants. Every citizen in America must fight to end sexual harassment, especially in the workplace. The power to eradicate sexual assault, whether it is through financial contributions to support victims or creating a new model of appropriate behavior lies within everybody, not just the victims. Multiple groups, including Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, feel similarly. Alianza Nacional de Campesinas sparked the formation of TIME’S UP with a letter.

Alianza Nacional de Campesinas wrote a letter to individuals in the entertainment industry. Jackie Shannon ’18

Alianza Nacional de Campesinas is an organization whose mission is to diminish sexual harassment against farm workers in the United States, according to alianzanacionaldecampesinas.org. Following the sexual harassment allegations involving Hollywood movie producer Mr. Harvey Weinstein, Alianza Nacional de Campesinas wrote a letter addressed to influential people in the entertainment industry, according to time.com. In the Friday, November 10, 2017 letter, the farmworkers expressed the similar sexual harassment that they encounter in the workplace.

“For the past several weeks we have watched and listened with sadness as we have learned of the actors, models and other individuals who have come forward to speak out about the gender based violence they’ve experienced at the hands of bosses, coworkers and other powerful people in the entertainment industry,” the women said in the letter.

Hollywood responded to the farmworkers with a letter of their own. This letter marks the beginning of TIME’S UP. Media mogul Ms. Oprah Winfrey and multiple actresses including Ms. Jennifer Aniston, Mrs. Blake Lively, and Miss Dakota Johnson, are among the 300 females who initially signed the letter.

The initiative presents celebrities with an opportunity to exercise their voice on social media platforms. If celebrities make statements about teaching boys to be respectful from a young age, then they could create a widespread and lasting change in the way all people behave.

Instead of a single leader, TIME’S UP has volunteers who run specific aspects of the initiative, according to The New York Times. To achieve their goal, Ms. Tina Tchen, former chief of staff to Mrs. Michelle Obama, is spearheading the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund. The Legal Defense Fund is vital to the initiative’s success.

Over 300 celebrities signed the Monday, January 1 letter in response to Alianza Nacional de Campesinas’ letter.
Jackie Shannon ’18

The National Women’s Law Center, a women’s rights organization, manages the fund and will provide victims with lawyers and public relations professionals. Because it is difficult to systematically teach a model of respect, the Legal Defense Fund is taking a step in the right direction to resolve sexual harassment issues in the workplace. Doing so will encourage survivors to stand up for themselves, eventually resulting in an end to workplace sexual harassment.  

This fund specifically demonstrates the power of pursuing an Internet movement that continues beyond the screen. TIME’S UP supporters have currently donated $19,895,403 to a GoFundMe campaign, rapidly approaching the initiative’s $20.5 million goal. Expensive legal fees prevent many sexual assault victims from seeking help, so the money raised is essential, as it goes towards the lawyers and public relations professionals who provide assistance for individuals who are ready to speak up, according to gofundme.com.  

TIME’S UP’s impact is already widespread, which is evident through the supporters’ tremendous donations and the publicity surrounding the initiative. With the fund’s aid, victims have the ability to reach out for help. Additionally, celebrity involvement will spread a clear message of intolerance to assailants. 

TIME’S UP is an innovative movement because it uses the Internet to fundraise and spread awareness, yet it also has a presence and tangible effect for those in need of reassurance that their stories will be heard and justice will be served.