TIME Magazine names ‘Silence Breakers’ the Person of the Year

TIME has announced that the ‘silence breakers’, women and men who have named their harassers, are collectively the Person of the Year for 2017.

The Person of the Year recognises the most newsworthy individual, group for that year.

Actress and activist Ashley Judd was one of the ‘silence breakers’ recognised by the magazine. In 2016, she delivered a powerful address to the TEDWomen conference on the subject of the online abuse of women.

The prominent ‘silence breakers’ photographed and interviewed in the magazine also include Taylor Swift, who won a sexual harassment lawsuit against a photographer earlier this year. The list also includes former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, who came forward as one of the women who had been harassed by former Fox News head Roger Ailes. Actor and former American Football player Terry Crews was one of the male ‘silence breakers’. Crews recently accused a casting agent of publicly groping him at a party.

In the TIME article explaining the choice, the writers opine that women coming forward about their harassers has the potential to change destructive social norms that protect such behaviour.

“The women and men who have broken their silence span all races, all income classes, all occupations and virtually all corners of the globe,” they write. “They might labor (sic) in California fields, or behind the front desk at New York City’s regal Plaza Hotel, or in the European Parliament. They’re part of a movement that has no formal name. But now they have a voice.”

One of the major catalysts for women and men coming forward to name their harassers came in October, when multiple women accused Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct. This was closely followed by the #MeToo campaign, a social media hashtag where women outlined their experiences of sexual harassment.

“We’re still at the bomb-throwing point of this revolution, a reactive stage at which nuance can go into hiding. But while anger can start a revolution, in its most raw and feral form it can’t negotiate the more delicate dance steps needed for true social change. Private conversations, which can’t be legislated or enforced, are essential.”

“Norms evolve, and it’s long past time for any culture to view harassment as acceptable. But there’s a great deal at stake in how we assess these new boundaries—for women and men together. We can and should police criminal acts and discourage inappropriate, destructive behavior (sic).”

Other candidates on the 2017 shortlist included United States President Donald Trump, Football player and activist Colin Kaepernick, and Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins.

Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor

(Pictured) Time magazine’s Person of the Year edition went to ‘The Silence Breakers’ – those who have shared their stories about sexual assault and harassment. The magazine’s cover features Ashley Judd, Taylor Swift, Susan Fowler and others. Photograph: AP




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