Top Hollywood women launch anti-harassment initiative
WASHINGTON - AFP
More than 300 top women in Hollywood from Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence to Emma Thompson and Cate Blanchett unveiled an initiative On Jan. 1 to tackle pervasive sexual harassment in workplaces, calling special attention to their "sisters" in less than glamorous blue-collar jobs.
The initiative, dubbed Time's Up, caps a year in which the Harvey Weinstein sexual misconduct scandal touched off a deluge of allegations that brought down powerful men in entertainment, politics and the media, prompting companies, government agencies and even the US federal court system to re-examine harassment policies.
But in an open letter printed in The New York Times, the new initiative lends the star power of its A-list members to the cause of women in less prominent fields, urging support and respect for farmworkers and others whose humble positions leave them vulnerable and voiceless.
"We fervently urge the media covering the disclosures by people in Hollywood to spend equal time on the myriad experiences of individuals working in less glamorized and valorized trades," the group says in its full-page ad.
"To every woman employed in agriculture who has had to fend off unwanted sexual advances from her boss, every housekeeper who has tried to escape an assaultive guest, every janitor trapped nightly in a building with a predatory supervisor, every waitress grabbed by a customer and expected to take it with a smile... we stand with you. We support you."
Last month, the head of Ford Motor Company apologized to employees at two factories in Chicago and promised changes, after a scathing expose by the Times detailed pervasive harassment and mistreatment of women at the plants dating back to the 1990s. It was one of the first major media investigations into sexual harassment in blue-collar workplaces.
Among the specific steps it announced, Time's Up has established a legal defense fund that, in just 12 days, has raised $13.4 million toward a $15 million goal aimed at providing legal aid for women and men who were sexually harassed, assaulted or abused in the workplace.
It has vowed to push for legislation to strengthen laws on workplace harassment and discrimination.
The group insists that more women must be brought into positions of power and leadership, while every woman should have equal benefits, opportunities, pay and representation. As for Hollywood, it wants "swift and effective change to make the entertainment industry a safe and equitable place for everyone."
And it called on women to wear black at Golden Globes on Jan. 8 as a statement against gender and racial inequality, and to raise awareness about the group's efforts.