by Brent Budowsky
2018 has begun where 2017 ended, with the surging influence of women in American public life continuing to grow. In a bold move to advance the interests of all women, 300 powerful women in Hollywood have announced a new group called Time’s Up to lead a national campaign against the systematic sexual harassment of women from Hollywood to working-class communities across America.
Time’s Up is spearheaded by leading actresses, agents, directors, producers, writers and top executives. Its financial backers include Reese Witherspoon, Meryl Streep, Steven Spielberg, Kate Capshaw, Shonda Rhimes and the talent agencies ICM Partners, Creative Artists Agency, William Morris Endeavor and United Talent Agency, with additional superstar support from Ashley Judd, Natalie Portman, Eva Longoria and Kerry Washington, among others.
The announcement of the formation of Time’s Up continues powerful trends in Hollywood and throughout the nation that involve the surging influence of women, a new generation of strong women candidates, growing clout of women activists and voters and skyrocketing activism of men and women battling for equality and justice in workplaces and communities across America.
It is profoundly wise and important that the Hollywood women who are rising with Time’s Up emphasize their alliances with men and their common cause with women in working-class communities and others who are victims of abuse and discrimination.
These Hollywood women, like men and women across the nation who are motivated to battle for change on many fronts in these troubled times, are part of a huge wave of citizen activism that has been gathering steam during the Trump presidency.
Hollywood has often been in the vanguard of historic movements in America life. During the Roosevelt and Kennedy years, Hollywood stars played an important role. During the Reagan years, the entertainment world played a prominent role both for and against Reagan. From the battle to win the Second World War to the struggle for civil rights, many leading players in entertainment, culture and the arts have acted boldly to better the nation.
Entertainers and athletes with a social conscience are again emerging as a vital force in public life. Late night talk show hosts such as Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert play high-profile roles in our civic discourse. Star athletes increasingly rise to champion good causes. Hollywood women now rise on behalf of women everywhere.
The potential of these women and the men who join them to lift our democracy is immense and historic. Consider their potential power to move the votes that choose our leaders.
On Aug.18, 2020, America will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which granted women the right to vote. There will be seminars and celebrations across the land. It is amazing to remember that from 1776, when Jefferson wrote that all men are created equal, until 1920, when the 19th Amendment was ratified, American women were not even granted the right to vote for their leaders.
At a time when voting rights are suppressed in many states and democracy itself is under attack from abroad, what better way for women in Hollywood and across America to honor the achievement of the suffragettes than to lead a historic campaign to register voters and mobilize support for causes they champion?
The women who are rising in Hollywood to lead a campaign that will benefit women everywhere have joined the cutting edge of a wave of citizen activism and engagement that is good news for America.
May a thousand flowers bloom, from motion picture studios to rural America, from all who seek equality, fairness, opportunity and justice for all Americans.