2017 has been filled with heartbreaking stories of survivors coming forward of their sexual assault but it has also been the year where the media has begun to recognize just how serious the problem is. Yesterday, TIME Magazine announced that its Person(s) of the Year was “The Silence Breakers”, the voices that launched a movement - the individuals who came forward with their stories of their sexual harassment.
#MeToo can be a conversation starter or it can be the whole conversation. - Tarana Burke
The magazine’s editor-in-chief, Edward Felsenthal appeared on the TODAY show to reveal the cover which featured Ashley Judd, Susan Fowler, Adama Iwu, Taylor Swift, Isabel Pascual and a partial woman. Felsenthal explained that the partial woman was an individual who talked to the magazine about their story but "doesn’t feel that she can come forward without threatening her livelihood.” This woman is also seen as a representation of the many voices who still fear telling their story.
During a year that seemed to be filled with much sadness, this award has brought hope for a brighter future. Many hashtags went viral this year but one particular hashtag spurred a social movement - #MeToo. The movement was started years before by activist Tarana Burke but this past October, actor Alyssa Milano helped popularize the phrase. Milano’s original tweet has since garnered over 68,000 replies, 25,000 retweets, and 53,000 likes and has spurred over a million interactions. Milano explained that #MeToo “took away the power from the predator and placed the power on the victim and maybe, just maybe - we could get a glimpse of the magnitude of this problem.”
The impact of this movement is already showing whether it's from individuals coming forward with their stories, the media starting to show support for survivors instead of villainizing them, or the career fallouts of the perpetrators such as Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, and Kevin Spacey. We are making the needed steps in trying to eradicate rape culture but we still have leaps and bounds to go. This is just the beginning, there is no telling what the ultimate impact of #MeToo will inspire.
For a more in-depth look on how the magazine chose its winner, be sure to read Felsenthal's explanation here. In addition, be sure to take some time and give TIME'S cover story a read, an excerpt of the article can be found below:
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.
From all of us at Project Consent, we would like to thank TIME for honoring this movement and for giving survivors a platform to be heard. We want to thank all the individuals who have partaken in the social movement for providing a platform where stories can be heard, for inspiring others to tell their stories, and lastly, we want to thank you for your bravery.