December 6, 2017

“The Silence Breakers”—TIME’s Person of the Year Captures Power of #MeToo


Detail of TIME’s cover featuring the 2017 person of the year, “the Silence Breakers.” Editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal said the movement was being honored “For giving voice to open secrets, for moving whisper networks onto social networks, for pushing us all to stop accepting the unacceptable.”


“This is for every woman who came forward. This is for every woman who was brave enough to say #MeToo.”


By Andrea Germanos / 12.06.2017


A year after it gave accused sexual assaulter Donald Trump the honor, TIME on Wednesday named “the Silence Breakers”—the women (and men) named and unnamed who exposed and helped bring accountability for the staggering pervasiveness of sexual misconduct by those in positions of power—as 2017 Person of the Year.

Editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal said the movement was being honored “For giving voice to open secrets, for moving whisper networks onto social networks, for pushing us all to stop accepting the unacceptable.”

“This reckoning appears to have sprung up overnight,” the magazine writes. “But it has actually been simmering for years, decades, centuries.”

“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,” it continues.

The hashtag #MeToo—coined years ago by social activist Tarana Burke and reignited this year by actor Alyssa Milano—as well as its international equivalents, “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.”

Milano acknowledged the award with a thread on Twitter, writing: “This is for every woman who came forward. This is for every woman who was brave enough to say #MeToo.”

TIME references stories of higher profile women like Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan as well as those whose stories were not featured in mainstream media reports like hotel worker Juana Melara and former dishwasher Sandra Pezqueda. The story notes that “women and men who have broken their silence span all races, all income classes, all occupations, and virtually all corners of the globe.” They “often had eerily similar stories to share.”

“We’re still at the bomb-throwing point of this revolution, a reactive stage at which nuance can go into hiding,” TIME writes. Yet, “for the moment, the world is listening.”

Burke, for her part, tweeted Wednesday morning: “Now the work REALLY begins.”

TIME has been naming a person of the year for over nine decades, but, as Washington Postcorrespondent Philip Bump noted, it has never given the honor to an American woman by herself.

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