TimesUp Commends #MeToo Survivors After Stinging Criticism

Group was criticized for ignoring Harvey Weinstein survivors in its anniversary video

Last Updated: January 10, 2019 @ 10:18 PM

When TimesUp released a star-studded sizzle reel commemorating its first year, one of the most striking things about it was who wasn‘t included: any of the women who accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct.

The women who spoke up against Weinstein helped the #MeToo movement catch fire, which led to Hollywood’s creation of the reform-focused TimesUp. The group’s Jan. 1 video featured big names including America Ferrera, Kerry Washington, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Tracee Ellis Ross, Natalie Portman, Shonda Rhimes, Cate Blanchett and Meryl Streep.

The exclusion of Weinstein accusers exposed growing tensions between TimesUp and #MeToo activists, who say they’ve felt ignored by TimesUp leadership for quite some time.

A TimesUp spokesperson responded to the backlash, telling TheWrap in a statement Saturday: “The cultural reckoning we’re experiencing today would not be possible without the brave survivors who came forward and told their stories through the #MeToo movement.”

“The look-back video commemorates an intense year filled with progress, persistence and resistance. Thanks to the powerful testimony of women and men around the globe and across industries who began to share their trauma and draw strength and community from one another, we’ve seen real, positive change. TIME’S UP is honored to be guided by the work of Tarana Burke, countless survivors who have shared their truth, and activists who have led the fight against sexual assault for so long,” the statement said.

The statement did not explain why the video seemed to exclude the Weinstein accusers. But the omission did not go unnoticed.

“Wow. posted a video to celebrate its one year anniversary and none of the Harvey Weinstein survivors (the reason the organization was started) are featured in the video,” reporter Yashar Ali tweeted. “I’m not surprised but I’m still stunned. Where is , , , I can go on and on. Have they just been erased? They put so much on the line to speak out.”

“There has been some concern that is an elitist org controlled by some of the people who allowed Weinstein to thrive,” Ali went on to write. “This tone-deaf video adds to those concerns. How disappointing and shameful.”

“Not that I expected to be included but it’s nice to know some are following the narrative,” tweeted Annabella Sciorra, who told The New Yorker that Weinstein violently raped her in the early 1990s. Caitlin Dulany, who has accused Weinstein of sexual assault, threats, and false imprisonment in 1996, wrote: “It’s very disappointing. Incomprehensible, really.”

In a statement through his publicist, Weinstein has “unequivocally denied” any non-consensual sex.

Rosanna Arquette, who was one of the first to accuse Weinstein of sexual misconduct, said she was so hurt by the TimesUp video’s exclusion of #MeToo activists that she couldn’t watch it.

“A lot of big egos got in the way and shoved us to the side and did not include us in the conversations,” Arquette said. “It’s just like, wow. Really?”

While the video does include a quick still shot of Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo movement, no Weinstein accuser is featured in the video.

Katherine Kendall, who accused Weinstein of taking off his clothes and asking for a massage in his apartment in 1993, said she, too, was taken aback by the lack of inclusion. Kendall said that, for the most part, her fellow #MeToo activists have been “shut out” of TimesUp.

“There are a lot of celebrities waving the banner of #MeToo but they were not the first to risk speaking out,” she said. “TimesUp has made no effort to have a relationship with us.”

Other Weinstein accusers said they offered to help TimesUp in any way they could, but their calls were never returned.

“As far as I can tell, their sole purpose is to promote the idea that Hollywood is ‘doing something’ about sexual harassment by wearing pins at awards shows,” said Lauren Sivan, who accused Weinstein of exposing himself and masturbating in front of her a decade ago.

“I hope I am wrong, but time will tell,” she told TheWrap.

TimesUp began as a legal defense fund in January 2018 to assist people who have experienced sexual assault and harassment.

According to its site, more than 3,400 women and men have been connected to legal resources through TimesUp. Two-thirds of those who contacted the fund identified themselves as low-wage workers. The fund has raised more than $23 million.

The friction between #MeToo and TimesUp is not new.

In January, actress Rose McGowan blasted TimesUp for partnering with Creative Artists Agency, calling it a “company of pimps that sent so many into the monster’s lair.”

McGowan’s comments came shortly after The New York Times reported that at least eight CAA agents were aware that Weinstein had sexually harassed female clients, yet the agency continued to send actresses to meet with him. (The agency issued a public apology to anyone “the agency let down” following the report.)

“I think if a company with ties to Weinstein and who was complicit with his behavior is given a seat at the table, then victims of the abuse should be invited too,” Sarah Ann Masse, who accused Weinstein of hugging her in his underwear during a 2008 meeting, told TheWrap.

CAA did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday

Masse said she was “100 percent” behind TimesUp’s efforts, “but unfortunately there has been an exclusion of the Weinstein silence breakers” from the organization.

“I’ve tweeted, I sent replies to some people who work with the organization saying I would like to be involved,” she said. “But I never heard back.”

Louise Godbold, who said Weinstein grabbed her hand and put it on his crotch at his office in the early ’90s, said TimesUp has not called her either.

“I don’t know whether they are deliberately not reaching out to us or if it’s a great oversight on their part,” she said. “But it is upsetting because they are doing important work without referencing the people who actually put something on the line for this to happen.”

Godbold, who is a trauma specialist by training, has been working with other non-profits, such as Women in Film, to conduct regular trauma sessions for #MeToo survivors.

“It does feel like an omission and it does make the people who did put something on the line feel invisible,” she added.

Arquette, along with actresses and #MeToo activists Mira Sorvino and Chantal Cousineau, has worked with Equal Rights Advocates, a non-profit women’s rights organization, to push for reforms that protect women in the workplace. She said she sent a letter to TimesUp expressing her disappointment that the organization has not “amplified” these efforts, and that she has a meeting set with TimesUp later this month.

“We deserve to have our voices heard,” she said, “especially since they built this whole thing on the backs of our pain.”

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