Actresses wearing black didn’t mean much, until now

When the idea of actresses observing an all-black dress code to the Golden Globes began to circulate last month, many were nonplussed. It seemed like a strange way to defy years of entrenched sexual misconduct in Hollywood. The entertainment industry was built on power imbalances between men and women! How would a dress code reverse that?

Besides, there was something perverse and almost unjust about women having to change what they wear in order to say something about men. Isn’t that kinda what women have always done in a way? Don’t wear short skirts, don’t wear low-cut tops, lest you draw the “wrong kind” of attention to yourselves.

And why black? Why should women have to mourn over what is, quite honestly, news to nobody?

Almost everyone had heard the rumours about Harvey Weinstein, and every woman in Hollywood – and beyond – has a story of being sexually harassed at work.

But the worst element appeared to be the tokenist nature of the protest. So women are wearing black – and then what? What changes? Will Weinstein serve time? Will laws be upheld? Will other sexual predators be prosecuted? Rose McGowan, who has been leading the charge since news broke of her ongoing sexual assault and harassment at the hands of Weinstein in October, said as much in an angry tweet, calling it hypocritical among other things. She later deleted it, and this is probably why.

On Monday over 300 actresses, writers, producers and directors, including Reese Witherspoon, Shonda Rhimes, Natalie Portman, Emma Stone and Kerry Washington announced that they had formed an initiative called Time’s Up, the principal aim of which will be to correct power imbalances, not just in the entertainment industry, but beyond it. As the tagline on the website reads, “The clock has run out on sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace. It’s time to do something about it.”

The most prominent part of the initiative is a legal defense fund, consisting of $US13 million, ($16.5 million) in donations given by other actresses such as Sienna Miller, Sarah Paulson, Selena Gomez and Jennifer Garner, who signed up and promoted the movement on their Instagram accounts. It’s time to shift the balance in the workplace, from representing the few to representing us all. #TIMESUP @timesupnowA post shared by Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) on Jan 1, 2018 at 7:13am PST

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