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January 3 2018

Top Hollywood Women Launch Time’s Up as the Answer to #MeToo, but Don’t Be Fooled

by Patrice Lee Onwuka

Reece Witherspoon, Ashley Judd, Eva Longoria, Emma Stone, and Kerry Washington have an action plan to deal with allegations of sexual harassment in Hollywood and blue-collar towns nationwide. It’s called Time’s Up.

A little digging beneath the surface of platitudes reveals an intentional and unhelpful muddling of serious issues including sexual assault and harassment with inappropriate behavior and other gender-related issues for progressive purposes. However, women (and men) who have suffered in silence should not be used as a tool to promote ideology.

Time’s Up, we’re told, is a leaderless movement to fight sexual harassment and misconduct. It's run by volunteers and made up of working groups. The New York Times explains what Time’s Up does:

  • A legal defense fund, backed by $13 million in donations, to help less privileged women — like janitors, nurses and workers at farms, factories, restaurants, and hotels — protect themselves from sexual misconduct and the fallout from reporting it.
  • Legislation to penalize companies that tolerate persistent harassment, and to discourage the use of nondisclosure agreements to silence victims.
  • A drive to reach gender parity at studios and talent agencies that has already begun making headway.
  • And a request that women walking the red carpet at the Golden Globes speak out and raise awareness by wearing black.

Time’s Up was announced on January 1st with an open letter in the New York Times signed by Hollywood A-Listers and hundreds of other women in show business. Big name actresses, producers, and writers such as Natalie Portman, America Ferrara, and Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, lent their names and faces to the movement as well as donating hefty sums of money.

The group says though that this is not about the glamorous, well-heeled women of Hollywood, but women working on farms, in plants or cleaning offices, who have no public voice but face the same working conditions – or worse. This no doubt was in response to heavy criticism of the #MeToo movement being focused on Hollywood and not regular women.

The stories of sexual assault are a terrible reminder that despite all of the normal and safe interactions women have in the workforce every day, there is still work to be done. So, we welcome society coming up with solutions beyond the laws already on the books to prevent or prosecute harassment, assault, and other wrongdoing.

However, this movement is not just about empowering victims to come forward and seek redress if possible. It is intentionally using victims to promote an ideology of rampant gender discrimination and victimization.

First, they intentionally conflate the spectrum of sexual harassment behaviors with other misconduct and sexual assault. There are real differences – including criminal versus civil - between these categories. Some behaviors are graver than others. It diminishes the survivors of assault to be lumped together with women who didn’t like the pick-up line of an unattractive co-worker.

Second, this movement is not just about sexual harassment, but it drags in other gender issues that feminists have used to mislead women into thinking there is rampant discrimination in America. They point to the lack of women in leadership across all industries and equal pay as being the source of wrong-doing, noting:

“Unfortunately, too many centers of power — from legislatures to boardrooms to executive suites and management to academia — lack gender parity and women do not have equal decision-making authority,” the letter said. “This systemic gender-inequality and imbalance of power fosters an environment that is ripe for abuse and harassment against women.”

That line of thinking says A happens and B happens so A must lead to B. Sexual harassment can occur in any industry or workplace regardless of the number of women working there and work in leadership. It also ignores the men who suffer misconduct at the hands of women.

Let’s inject some truth here as well. The purported 80-cent wage gap is actually a few cents when accounting for other factors including the choices women make about their careers and to have families. Increasing the number of women in leadership is a great goal, but women make choices about the specific industries, jobs, and career tracks they take. Those paths don’t lead to the c-suite because leadership comes with tradeoffs that many women don’t want to make. That is okay.

If this is truly about combatting harassment, then this action plan should leave aside the politics and misinformation. Otherwise, this is just another high-profile vehicle to push the victimization narrative.

IIndependent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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