#MeToo, #TimesUp, and the Failures of Feminism

Curator's Note

#TimesUp was instituted as a means to confront privilege within the #MeToo movement; as means to engage in “intersectional feminism.” But what #TimesUp illustrates is the very limits that Kimberlé Crenshaw was explicating when she wrote about it, that systems of oppression are blind to one another.

Alianza Nacional de Campesinas (The National Farmworker Women’s Alliance) penned an open letter of support and solidarity to the women of Hollywood who were declaring #MeToo. Migrant women also know about being sexually harassed (or worse) at work and feeling powerless to do anything about it. No woman in the world, regardless of social class, profession, or citizenship, is immune to sexual harassment and violence. Despite this fact, it is necessary to illuminate the ways these identities intersect to create layers of oppression, and in this case, silences.

In response to the open letter, “Over 300 women who work in film, television, and theatre,” created the coalition of the #TimesUp Legal Defense Fund which “defrays” the cost of “select cases" of sexual harassment in the workplace. These Hollywood actresses want to help subsidize the cost of lawsuits filed against employers. Their goal with #TimesUp is to help women who are in “low-wage industries” such as the farmworking women who sent the letter of solidarity in the first place.

#TimesUp disappoints.

First, access to the information and resources are on the internet. Do you think Guadalupe is at Starbucks with her MacBook, sipping a latte, scrolling through her legal options in between cherry-picking season and apple season? Second, do you think Sabrina, the domestic worker, has years to wait to actually see compensation for the lawsuit she filed?  Also, if the demographic that #TimesUp wanted to reach were “low-wage” workers such as the farmworkers, why aren't there resources in Español?

The #TimesUp Legal Defense Fund illustrates just how far removed a Hollywood actress is from the realities of a woman who labors in the fields. The women who worked to create #TimesUp should be asking questions such as; who cannot afford to say #MeToo? Are the resources provided by #TimesUp universially accessible? How can we ensure that this capital actually reaches the women who were the very impetus for the movement in the first place?


Great critique! There is a clear lack of understanding about the needs of the migrant population and what would be useful and accessible. What would be better alternatives for the TimesUp movement to assist women, migrant workers?

That's a good question, Tanya. I've been thinking a lot about what gets missed in these intellectual conversations surrounding #MeToo and #TimesUp which is just a general acknowledgment of someone's pain. So let me say that first, I see you and I hear you and I believe you. Second, I think what would be helpful is if these actresses could use their art to amplify the stories and experiences of the women in "low wage" industries. What is a day of a migrant worker like? What kinds of complex struggles do these women face? Why not dramatize this and put it into a movie or documentary form? These actresses and industry women could use their storytelling powers and economic privilege to bring the public to awareness of the multiple ways in which migrant women are silenced. Also, I think it's important to address the things in my critique; which is the inaccessibility of the internet and the resources in English.

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