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On the one-year anniversary of Ronan Farrow’s first bombshell Harvey Weinstein exposé in The New Yorker, the founding organizers of Time’s Up are still stunned by how far-ranging the movement has grown.
“It’s bigger than any of us could have ever imagined, and harder to explain,” America Ferrera said of the coalition that now encompasses branches in the entertainment, technology, advertising, venture capital and healthcare industries, among other fields. Just last week, the organization hired its first president and CEO, former WNBA president Lisa Borders, who on Wednesday sat on a panel with the actress at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit.
For Borders, the conversation took place a day after she met members of the media along with 12 other Time’s Up leaders at a press conference organized at the Hollywood offices of Sunshine Sachs. There, Borders emphasized patience for progress. “We will do this the right way,” she said in the context of recent disappointments in the news. “We will not rush.”
Both Borders and Ferrera said that they did not view Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation as a setback. “So much of what has happened, starting with the announcement of Trump running for president, was a painful awakening and illumination of what people have known has existed forever,” Ferrera said. “Things like the confirmation are telling us exactly where we are, and we can no longer kid ourselves about what it happening and how it has been allowed to happen for so long.”
Katie Couric, who moderated the conversation, asked the panelists about the challenges of changing culture. “At the end of the day, the powers that be shouldn’t be the powers that be,” said Borders.
But how to effect that leadership change? “Do we have to wait until heads of companies retire or die?” asked Couric, perhaps thinking about the decades she spent working alongside Matt Lauer at NBC or under Leslie Moonves at CBS. The panelists did not answer directly, but Ferrera noted that change begins with women. “We have to be willing, as women, to give ourselves the permission to be angry enough to say what the problem is,” she said. “That comes first. I have seen an awakening.”
Borders and Ferrera called on men to learn about the movement and join — and most importantly, speak to other men about it. “The folks who disagree with us and are deeply fearful of what we are trying to do have the misnomer we are attacking men,” Borders said. “We are attacking bad behavior.”
Added Ferrera, “You have a responsibility to speak to your peer group. It’s not enough to say, ‘I’m a woke man and I’m good.’ It’s your job to speak to other men, because they’re going to listen to you more than to us.”
Ferrera, an impassioned and eloquent speaker, prompted Couric to ask if she has considered running for office. “My answer has always been no, but to be honest, if every single one of us hasn’t asked ourselves that question in the last two years, you’re not asking yourself the right question,” said the actress. “Women in particular are afraid to say they could run for office because women who have sought power have not been treated well. If I say I’m going to run, it’s going to make me seem like a power-hungry shrew. So I’ll say for the first time in a public setting that yes, I have thought about it, and you should, too.”
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