A group of prominent women in Hollywood — including actors, directors, talent agents and lawyers — have launched an anti-harassment initiative called "Time's Up."
Among the 300 women who signed on to the ambitious initiative are several A-list celebrities, including Shonda Rhimes, Reese Witherspoon, Ava DuVernay, America Ferrera and Eva Longoria.
The mission statement reads, in part: “No more silence. No more waiting. No more tolerance for discrimination, harassment or abuse. Time's up.”
The multi-pronged campaign includes legislative efforts to discourage the use of nondisclosure agreements (or NDAs) to silence victims, and a legal defense fund for women who've been unable to afford legal representation in cases of sexual harassment or abuse.
Cara Buckley, a culture reporter at The New York Times, spoke with several of the women who've spearheaded the "Time's Up" initiative. Buckley says that while "Time's Up" is a leaderless movement, particular women are heading up several working groups focused on different issues related to fighting harassment in the workplace.
Anita Hill is leading a commission set up to create a blueprint for eliminating sexual harassment, and Shonda Rhimes has been active in an effort called 50/50 by 2020, which is securing pledges from talent agencies to have 50/50 gender parity in their executive ranks by 2020.
The Time's Up Legal Defense Fund, which has already raised $14 million in donations as of Jan. 2, is being administered by the National Women's Law Center. It was created by attorneys Tina Tchen, the former chief of staff to First Lady Michelle Obama, and Robbie Kaplan, who successfully argued on behalf of Edith Windsor in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that found the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.
Kaplan says the response from donors, lawyers and people needing legal representation has been "overwhelming already, and it's just [been] a day now." But in order for lasting change to happen, she says "it needs to happen on a number of fronts — including lobbying, including press, including the support of all the incredible women in Hollywood who are supporting us, and it also has to happen in cases."
"Edith Windsor, who was just one person, [but] bringing her case really paved the way to marriage equality in this country," Kaplan says. "And I wouldn't be surprised if the same thing happens here."