It quickly snowballed into a new wave of female empowerment, including establishing a multimillion-dollar legal fund to help women pursue their attackers through the legal system.
Funding turned into action
The Time’s Up Legal Defence fund is open to women from all industries, despite its roots in the entertainment sector. By December, it had reportedly reached $US22 million ($31.21 million) from 21,000 donors worldwide. It is the largest-grossing GoFundMe campaign, and arguably one of the most successful examples of crowdfunding in history.
It has also inspired other GoFundMe pages, including the campaign to raise funds for Dr Christine Blasey Ford, who testified in September that US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her during their high school years.
According to the US National Women’s Law Centre, which administers the fund, more than 3700 women and men have accessed Time’s Up funding, with a majority identifying as low-wage workers.
Women give the lion’s share
Major donors to the fund have included Nicole Kidman, Jennifer Aniston, Taylor Swift and Reese Witherspoon. The administrators report a much smaller proportion of donations have come from men, including Steven Spielberg and Harry Styles.
One newsworthy male donation came from actor Mark Wahlberg, who donated more than $US2 million ($2.88 million) on behalf of Michelle Williams after it was revealed he was paid 1500 times more than the actress to reshoot scenes for All The Money in The World after the sacking of Kevin Spacey over sexual assault revelations. Comedian Aziz Ansari also donated funds after being accused of sexual misconduct in a story published by Babe.net.
Singer John Legend and his wife, model Chrissy Teigen, made a donation of $US200,000 ($288,000) on “behalf of the heroic gymnasts of the USA Gymnastics Team” for testifying against their doctor, Larry Nassar, who pleaded guilty to 10 counts of criminal sexual conduct.
Australia joins the movement
In Australia, media figure Tracey Spicer created the NOW Australia initiative, which has a similar charter to Time’s Up. To date, the national organisation run under the Australian Human Rights Commission in conjunction with 30 high-profile women has raised more than $120,000 and collected more than 2000 stories to tackle harassment and abuse in workplaces across Australia by connecting people with “appropriate legal and psychological support”.
Impact on popular culture
It was a year of female celebrities standing together to demand representation, accountability for those who seemed “untouchable”, and equality.
After powerful speeches from the likes of Oprah and Salma Hayek during the US awards season, more than 200 British actresses and entertainers signed a letter and created an anti-harassment fund before the BAFTAs in February, calling for an end to systemic abuse and sexism. In May, 82 women including Cate Blanchett and Ava DuVernay also stood together on the steps at the Cannes Film Festival to represent the number of women who have directed films nominated for the awards, compared to 1645 men.
In honour of the one-year anniversary, a number of women have discussed the impact of Time’s Up, including actress Emma Watson, who told CNN it has “helped cultivate a sense of community between women in my industry”.
“People assume female actors all know each other and hang out, but we’re often quite isolated in an industry that can feel like an atomising force rather than a bonding one,” she said.
Black in solidarity
While it’s unlikely the all-black dress code of last year’s Golden Globes will be repeated when they take place on Monday, Australian time, expect plenty of attendees to discuss the movement on the red carpet, and wear the pins of the movement on their gowns and suits.
Last year’s “blackout”, while it was dismissed by some as tokenism, was one of the Time’s Up movement’s first and most powerful visual statements, led by #MeToo creator Tarana Burke.
Where the “blackout” may continue to have influence at awards ceremonies is in the continuing discussion about the role of red carpets, including the gender divide between asking women about their outfits and men about their work.
In a statement to Vogue after last year’s event, designer Prabal Gurung said red carpets are “a beautiful and highly visible platform for women to speak about issues that deserve to be on the agenda”.
Partnerships and moving forward
In a new letter, the Time’s Up founders this week announced Time’s Upx2 with an aim “to double the number of women in leadership and across other spaces where women are under-represented” and eliminate workplace issues and the over-representation of women in low-paying jobs, which all stems from “imbalances in power that plague nearly every sector”.
“We won’t stop fighting until there is gender balance in leadership and all women have the opportunity to reach their full potential at work. It’s not because women aren’t working hard enough or aren’t capable enough. The system is fundamentally broken,” the letter reads.
“One thing was certain: We would no longer be playing by the old rules – the ones that had silenced us, kept us less safe and prevented us from reaching our full potential.”
Nicole Economos is online producer for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.