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Time's Up isn't about punishing any one case of harassment, but what we can do to fix the system

We are fighting to ensure safe and dignified spaces in the workplace for people of all kinds, not just to be punitive.
Image: Amber Tamblyn
Amber Tamblyn visits Build Series to discuss 'Any Men' at Build Studio on June 26, 2018 in New York City.Mike Pont / Getty Images file

What is so important to us with Time's Up is not to be punitive towards any specific gender, but to just make sure there are safe and dignified spaces in the workplace for people of all kinds. Sometimes that means being able to say with authority to a boss, or a partner, or a person you've never met before, Hey, this behavior's not acceptable. You can't treat me this way, you can't talk to me this way.

"We are creating the consequences now," Jill Soloway said to us. What you're seeing with Time's Up are the consequences that have never happened before, being created.

The most important consequence that came out of the creation of Time's Up came about because we knew that what we were planning couldn't just be some ideal; it had to be tied to something palpable and real. That is why the legal defense fund was created: A lot of women — me and others in the entertainment business, with activists across industries like Ai-jen Poo and Mónica Ramírez — were all getting together in these rooms and just saying, How can we change things?

We then reached out to everyone we knew and asked them to donate before the project went public on January 1st, 2018, and ended up raising close to $20 million. All of that money is being used to help support — financially and legally — survivors who are looking to either file lawsuits or facing other claims in the workplace.

To day, there have been over 4,000 potential cases submitted and, as of right now, there's at least a hundred that are active cases. If you consider how expensive lawyers are, and how expensive trial cases are, that is actually quite a big movement. And even the potential cases that aren't getting funded, the people who submitted them are getting connected to lawyers for legal advice

It's still pretty early, though, and legal cases take a very long time to go through the system. But we have had adjacent successes.

For example, Time's Up Healthcare was just created. Several women — very well-known healthcare providers, physicians, doctors — reached out to us and said, We want to create this. Women are predominantly left out of medical research, they're left off boards of hospitals and universities, and are still far fewer female physicians, particularly in specialties. And the organization said, Absolutely. We will support you in every possible way. We'll connect you with everyone we know. We'll make sure that the actresses with platforms are able to also support you.

That's one of the things we love so much about the Time's Up umbrella: To be able to give the name over and let women take their own control and take their own initiative. And one of the most wonderful experiences about being part of Time's Up is that you feel really connected to women from other industries, and feel really able to support them.

These acts of solidarity, these acts of showing that you care and that other people matter, are important. It's important for each of us to show up in even the smallest ways that we can.

That's why several of us from Time's Up went to one of the pretrial hearings in Harvey Weinstein's criminal case in December. We just went down and sat in silent witness, as women, as members of Time's Up. We did it to just stand there in support of the women who were not able to be there that day.

Otherwise, though, I don't spend time focusing on those men. Focusing on themselves and their actions is their responsibility; if they want redemption, they need to figure out how to get it. Usually that means doing their own work, and I think redemption belongs solely to people who are interested in looking at atonement. It's not for me to tell them how to fix things, but it's on them to reach out and say, How do I fix things?

That to me is the most important lesson; it's not about how any one person fails, it's about what we do after. How do we try to fix things? Do we even try to fix things, or do we go sulk in a corner and stick our heads in the sand?

So much of what we've learned in last few years comes down to that: This is not the time to stick our heads in the sand. All of us have to have personal accountability.

A lot of people have asked how they can get involved with Time's Up, and my response is always to ask, "Where do you see a missing piece? Where is there a big dilemma? Where is there a problem that hasn't been addressed yet?" If you see a space, get a bunch of other women together to create your own Time's Up.

Personally, I now also try to focus more on the incredible women and people in the LGBTQ community doing amazing work; writing great books, making great TV shows and movies. That is, to me, where the excitement is happening. That is a sign that this is working.

As told to NBC News THINK editor Megan Carpentier, edited and condensed for clarity.