You probably remember how the #MeToo movement was all the rage back in 2018, with celebrities and politicians loudly calling for an end to systemic sexual harassment or assault committed by powerful men in politics, Hollywood, and almost everywhere else. That movement gave rise to the Time’s Up organization. The group drove allegations of such abuse into the headlines and they raised money for legal defense funds aimed at prosecuting abusers. But the group has been steeped in controversy lately and questions have been raised about its efficacy and leadership. Now, five years after its launch, Time’s Up is shutting down and shifting its remaining cash into an independently administered legal defense fund. (Associated Press)

The Golden Globes carpet typically glitters with crystal-studded gowns in pastel hues, but it looked different in January 2018: The ballgowns were black, and the night’s key accessory was a pin that read “Time’s Up.” Onstage, Oprah Winfrey brought guests to their feet with a warning to powerful abusers: “Their time is up!”

Five years later, Time’s Up — the now-embattled anti-harassment organization founded with fanfare during the early days of the #MeToo reckoning against sexual misconduct — is ceasing operations, at least in its current form.

A year after pledging a “major reset” following a scandal involving its leaders’ dealings with then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo amid sexual harassment allegations, the group tells The Associated Press that Time’s Up is shifting remaining funds to the independently administered Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, and stopping other operations.

The group initially seemed to act in a nonpartisan fashion, particularly when they went after Al Franken and drove him from the Senate. But they were curiously silent about Andrew Cuomo and did absolutely nothing to rush to the defense of Tara Reade.

Harvey Weinstein arguably did more than anyone to get #MeToo and Time’s Up underway, and understandably so. But it was probably the aforementioned Andrew Cuomo who did the most to sink the group. (Or at least the association of some of the group’s leaders with Cuomo.) In November of 2021, the group announced a “major reset” as a result of all of the stories swirling around Cuomo.

At that time, not only was Time’s Up not condemning Andrew Cuomo over the many women accusing him of inappropriate sexual behavior, but chief executive Tina Tchen wound up resigning after she and other leaders were found to have actually been advising Cuomo about the best way to handle the allegations. By the time the bloodbath was over, almost the entire staff had been let go and there were only four members left on the board of directors.

At the time, Ashley Judd (one of the groups most prominent voices) vowed that they would rebuild and come back better than ever. But it doesn’t look like that happened. Their fundraising has clearly been impacted by the shift in public perceptions of the group. They initially raised tens of millions of dollars in a relatively short period of time. Now they are down to $1.7 million, all of which is being transferred into the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund.

One of the factors cited by the AP back during the initial shakeup was the political partisanship I mentioned above. Time’s up quickly seemed to become inextricably entwined with the Democratic Party and was too willing to turn a blind eye to allegations against Democrats while pursuing conservatives and Republicans with abandon.

The group appeared politically partisan. The report cited members who felt Time’s Up was damaged by leaders’ ties to the Democratic Party (Tchen was once Michelle Obama’s chief of staff). The organization was accused by some of not supporting Tara Reade, who accused now-President Joe Biden of assaulting her in the 1990s — an allegation he has vehemently denied. And the Cuomo ties led to criticism that the group’s dealings with the governor smacked of political favoritism.

So does the end of this group mean that issues involving sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood and the world of politics have all been resolved? Hardly. You hear a lot less about the casting couch in Hollywood these days, but many actresses still tell tales of being “pressured” if they want to land some of the bigger roles in movies and television shows. Politicians are similarly accused on a semi-regular basis as well. All in all, it seems as if things are somewhat better than they were five years ago, but we’re talking about cultures that have been steeped in these types of issues for a very long time.

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