Donald Trump tried his hardest to convince his Twitter followers that he was offered the spot as TIME‘s “Person of the Year” but turned it down because they wouldn’t give him a firm guarantee of the cover. He couldn’t have been more wrong about who was to be chosen.
For 2017, the cover of TIME went to “The Silence Breakers” in the #MeToo movement. This watershed moment of survivors of sexual harassment and sexual assault has woken up a society who willfully ignored the voices of these heroes for far too long. Those who previously insisted that none of the women in their lives had ever experienced this form of abuse soon found out that, yes, it was their friends, family, and co-workers, too. The perpetrators who believed they had shamed or frightened their victims into silence found out that, yes, they too would be outed.
— TIME (@TIME) December 6, 2017
The woman who launched the #MeToo hashtag, Tarana Burke, appeared on The Today Show with a celebrity supporter, Alyssa Milano, who gave the movement a platform with her 331,000,000 followers on Twitter. Burke’s refusal to remain silent offered courage and a voice to those ready to come forward and tell their stories.
— Holly O'Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan) December 6, 2017
The movement hit America like an unavoidable storm that has hovered over a culture that, almost without exception, scorned and dismissed survivors who chose to speak out. Those victims will no longer be silenced.
‘This reckoning appears to have sprung up overnight. 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.’
As one after another abuser was outed and publicly shamed for their actions, the country moved into a conversation that’s been long overdue even before Anita Hill gave the crime a name that survivors recognized and their critics minimized immediately.
It’s been 26 years since the term “sexual harassment” became a national catchword after Hill accused Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas during his confirmation hearings. Immediately, millions of women saw their own experiences in hers and watched Hill suffer the fate they had all feared would happen to them: she was demonized, called a liar and mentally ill, and saw her friends and family targeted by those who refused to accept a woman – particularly a black woman – with the ability to expose a culture that has too long accepted these abuses as normal.
Congratulations to “The Silence Breakers,” TIME‘s “Person of the Year.” In the end, it isn’t men like Trump but the women they abuse who will emerge as the heroes and the game changers to be remembered in 2017.
Featured image via Business Insider