Time’s Up powerful first step for sexual assault victims

By Duke Staff

1/11/18

The 75th Golden Globes was this past Sunday, and perhaps more stunning than the glitz and glam of the event was the undoubtedly powerful display of solidarity among much of the entertainment elite. Between the pointed interviews, brazen accusations and passionate speeches, the effects of the massive wave of allegations of sexual misconduct in Hollywood were self-evident. The platforming of social activists — particularly people of color — capped off the night of wonderful pageantry.

This impressive display of unity was due in no small part to the Time’s Up movement, a politically-motivated call to action to fight against rampant sexual harassment in all industries. In the letter outlining their mission, hundreds of women announced their commitment to take active, impactful steps in order to create positive change for those previously relegated to silence.

Without a doubt, we at The Duke agree wholeheartedly with the mission of Time’s Up. Many of us can attest to instances in our personal lives where we witnessed not only criminal activity, but felt the weight and pressures put on the victims meant to coerce and silence them. And journalism, as an industry, is not excused from the same allegations of injustice and inequality. Just this last week, editor Carrie Gracie left her job at the BBC because of gender-based discrepancy in pay.

However, what we find to be particularly worth celebrating about Time’s Up is its specific goals — or, rather, the fact it has them. Granted, the overall mission of the movement is nothing new: ending workplace harassment and the culture of sexual violence has been the rallying cry of activists for decades.

Where Time’s Up differentiates itself from most other movements, however, is its legal defense fund. Housed at and administered by the National Women’s Law Center, this more-than $16 million fund aims to facilitate connecting victims of sexual assault — no matter their occupation — with lawyers. Best of all, the signatories of Time’s Up acknowledge that this fund is “a first step,” indicating, hopefully, there will be more active steps to come.

Continued action is the only way that the goals of Time’s Up will be achieved, and well-defined steps present one of the best ways of eliminating injustice and inequality. This begs the question, then, of what some of those steps are.

Advocating legal changes and voting into office those who prioritize sexual assault victims are great places to start. On a smaller scale, not being part of the problem is also a good next step. This seems pretty obvious, but not sexually harassing or assaulting another definitely curbs both issues effectively. Calling out that behavior and standing in defense for victims are also crucial.

Calling out problematic behavior is also necessary, and boy, was there a lot of it this past Sunday as well. While many women spoke eloquently about sexual misconduct in their industry, men were quiet about the subject. And by quiet, we mean almost completely silent.

Fellas, we need to do better. A lot better. If you believe in equality and justice, then at the very least you can do is actually say so. Male-actors’ commitments to wearing black (which, like, were you going to wear anything else?) and insipid pins were pathetic compared to the thrashing that some women gave, on-air no less.

Change is coming, thankfully, and all people — especially men — need to promise to do more and not let the momentum die. Steps, no matter how small, are absolutely needed to see the vision of movements like Time’s Up fulfilled.

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