Following the 2017 #MeToo movement that exposed the prevalence of decades-long sexual misconduct towards women in Hollywood, and spurred by a storm of allegations that caused the eventual downfall of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein, the following year got off on the right foot through the Time’s Up movement, also referred to as #TimesUp. Acting as response to and continuation of #MeToo, it was founded by Hollywood actresses to effectively eliminate sexual harassment, inequality, and gender discrimination not only in Hollywood but, hopefully, also in less glamorous workplaces. Putting it mildly, the past three years have women and minorities’ fight for equality and injustice grow leaps and bounds, thanks to #MeToo and #TimesUp. However, the #TimesUp movement, as noble and supposedly far-reaching as it intends to be, should not lose sight of its mission and not simply bask in a Hollywood “moment” consisting of a year or two, but ideally be a continuous revolution to altogether eradicate all forms of sexual harassment, inequality, oppression, and uphold fairness, safety, equality, accountability, and balance of power that extends to spheres that need it most.
In spite of all the attention and monumental shifts in legislation and women’s rights worldwide that #MeToo has incurred, #TimesUp, with a more consolidated focus, has yet to prove itself. For more than a year now, #TimesUp has almost always been confined to the glitz of Hollywood circles of celebrities, still unable to gather significant steam. Because of this, countless of working class people and women, most of whom belong to minority groups, are unfortunately left out in the narrative surrounding the issue. Social workers, civil rights activists, and worker unions are hoping to widen the scope of conversation so that women and minorities in obscure and helpless positions are safeguarded and advocated as well.
The magnitude of the problems that #TimesUp aims to resolve is intimidating. The aggravation that lower income workers face on the job still has a long way to go, and unsurprisingly, sexual harassment is just one of the many ills that needs to be wiped out. An independent research conducted in 2018 in the United States revealed that almost 50 percent of harassment in the workplace are filed by women and 25 percent of these are sex-based, meaning that one in four women will experience sexual harassment on the job at least a few times in their lifetime. To say that this statistic is bitter is an understatement. Even more unfathomable is the truth that it is bound to stay the same if no drastic action is taken.
Harsh reality and the need for action
Taking immediate action, however, is not as simple as it seems. While reporting or speaking out against harassment of any sort appears to be the most simplistic and practical solution, reality is far more unforgiving. The same research found that 4 out of 5 workers who spoke out against or reported harassment met some kind of retaliation simply for standing up for themselves. In a time wherein simply getting by is difficult enough due to the constantly rising cost of living, being a wage worker dependent on salary alone can put anyone in a position of vulnerability just for the sake of wanting food on the table every day. If it is painful enough for anyone to confront the reality that this research demonstrates, how much more painful is it to know that a loved one is in the exact same position? This is one of the most important realities that the founders of #TimesUp should channel its energy and influence to understand and act on immediately.
To make matters worse, these realities that place women and minorities in vulnerable positions constitute only the surface of the problem. #TimesUp must understand that these are not mere cases of “individuals or bad men” continually subjugating less powerful sectors, but rather a manifestation of a systemic problem that has often been ignored until various points in which a revolution had to take place to undercut the status quo. The suffragettes, the civil rights, and the LGBTQ movements are concrete examples of reactions to the oppressive status quo. #TimesUp, for all its efforts, should always be reminded to examine these movements again and again to realise that women and minorities live in a system that almost guarantees that certain groups of people will be maltreated and exploited if action is not taken, and that the oppressive groups responsible will remain in power if capable watchdogs would be tempted to look the other way. #TimesUp must champion the most viable solution: essentially, the #MeToo movement should morph into #UsToo, if #TimesUp intends to say true to the nobility of its mission.
Looking ahead; call to action
Critics argue that #TimesUp should unshackle itself from its Hollywood roots to be able to fully function as a human rights watchdog for society’s marginalized sectors. In this respect, critics are wrong. In no way should #TimesUp’s Hollywood roots and connections serve as impediment to its aim, but rather be a boost that calls to action all similar human rights movements, taking into consideration its power and scope of influence. Overturning the current oppressive system is a tall order, but it can surely be achieved. #TimesUp, for all its perceived shortcomings and missteps, is a movement that champions the basic tenets of humanity, and there is only one way for it to make it a permanent revolution – through tireless and unfazed collaborative action.