Time magazine has named “The Silence Breakers” as its 2017 Person of the Year — the women (and some men) who came forward with stories of sexual harassment and assault, forcing a nationwide reckoning.
The magazine calls them “the voices that launched a movement.”
Among them: Actresses Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan, whose stunning accusations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein helped lead to his downfall; activist Tarana Burke, the creator of the #MeToo movement; and Alyssa Milano, the actress who amplified it.
“The galvanizing actions of the women on our cover … along with those of hundreds of others, and of many men as well, have unleashed one of the highest-velocity shifts in our culture since the 1960s,” Time’s editor in chief, Edward Felsenthal, said in a statement to “Today.”
These “silence breakers” have forced a national reckoning on sexual harassment.
The blockbuster newspaper and magazine investigations and the countless #MeToo accounts of harassment, sexual abuse and worse have ensnared an ever-growing list of public figures — celebrities, executives, politicians, business leaders — whose careers have come crashing down.
As Katrina vanden Heuvel wrote in The Washington Post:
More women are emboldened to talk, and more are being heard. The risks for abusers — particularly public figures — are rising. We know the roots of this extraordinary moment; where the moment leads remains to be seen.
In its Person of the Year cover story, Time notes that “this moment is borne of a very real and potent sense of unrest. Yet it doesn’t have a leader, or a single, unifying tenet. The hashtag #metoo (swiftly adapted into #BalanceTonPorc, #YoTambien, #Ana_kaman and many others), which to date has provided an umbrella of solidarity for millions of people to come forward with their stories, is part of the picture, but not all of it.”
“This reckoning appears to have sprung up overnight,” according to the magazine. “But it has actually been simmering for years, decades, centuries. Women have had it with bosses and co-workers who not only cross boundaries but don’t even seem to know that boundaries exist. They’ve had it with the fear of retaliation, of being blackballed, of being fired from a job they can’t afford to lose. They’ve had it with the code of going along to get along. They’ve had it with men who use their power to take what they want from women.
“These silence breakers have started a revolution of refusal, gathering strength by the day, and in the past two months alone, their collective anger has spurred immediate and shocking results: nearly every day, CEOs have been fired, moguls toppled, icons disgraced. In some cases, criminal charges have been brought.
“Emboldened by Judd, Rose McGowan and a host of other prominent accusers, women everywhere have begun to speak out about the inappropriate, abusive and in some cases illegal behavior they’ve faced. When multiple harassment claims bring down a charmer like former Today show host Matt Lauer, women who thought they had no recourse see a new, wide-open door. When a movie star says #metoo, it becomes easier to believe the cook who’s been quietly enduring for years.”
Said Felsenthal, the editor of Time: “The idea that influential, inspirational individuals shape the world could not be more apt this year. For giving voice to open secrets, for moving whisper networks onto social networks, for pushing us all to stop accepting the unacceptable, the Silence Breakers are the 2017 Person of the Year.”