The Silence Breakers Of 2017

The Silence Breakers Of 2017

Time's Person of the Year has many names.

Time’s Person of the Year is plural for 2017: The Silence Breakers.

Unveiled on December 7th, the cover features a striking image of five women: Ashley Judd, Taylor Swift, Adama Iwu, Isabel Pascual, and Susan Fowler. The sixth appears only as a jacketed elbow, pictured in the lower right of the cover. This tiny detail is elusive but pointed. The elbow belongs to of one of the unnamed “silence breakers,” for whom coming forth is still difficult, but whose voices matter no less.

It speaks to the value of the movement of the silence breakers; they aren’t all high profile celebrities whose platforms extend globally. They cannot all tell their stories as wholly or as openly as some have. This does not disqualify their experiences. It reminds us that the silence breakers are not limited to people working in Hollywood. They surround us. Theirs is not a movement with a leader or with a unifier.

On the woman cropped out of the image, Time correspondent Charlotte Alter provided, “That’s an anonymous woman who is a hospital worker who was experiencing harassment and didn’t feel that she could come forward.” In the feature story, aforementioned hospital worker emphasizes that she remained anonymous “as an act of solidarity to represent all those who could not speak out.”

The feature finds that “When a movie star says #MeToo, it becomes easier to believe the cook who’s been quietly enduring for years.” In fact, since the Weinstein allegations have come to light, a Time/SurveyMonkey online poll for American adults finds that “82% of respondents are more likely to speak out about harassment.” The diversity in the women telling the stories demonstrates the universality of the issue, being that they are all of different ages, religions, ethnicities, and incomes. Many of the interviewees expressed fear of repercussion for coming forth, as many of them are “vulnerable in society- immigrants, people of color, people with disabilities, low-income workers and LGBTQ people.” The fact that they will be recognized as people of the year, whether named or not, demonstrates a willingness and need to detach fear of coming forth from these instances.

Despite the social media revolution and the increased impetus for telling one’s stories, the legal and policy protections that address sexual harassment have not evolved to meet the demands of that revolution. The number of these stories that have emerged indicate the failings of sexual harassment policies, and of the norms that remain stagnant while others change. Recognizing the silence breakers is a step forward, but it is one of many yet to be taken.

Cover Image Credit: TIME / YouTube

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Reevaluating My Feminism

I am a feminist because I believe in the power of women.

I’ve considered myself a feminist since my junior year of high school. At the time, I barely knew what that meant, only that I wanted women to have the same opportunities and rights as men. I knew what the wage gap was if only the most basic understanding; I knew that certain professions were looked down on for being “women’s work." I also knew that the girls in my elementary school for bullied by the boys for being too girly and too feminine. I knew that femininity was something women were expected to project, but too much meant that we were ditzy, annoying and uncool.

As I’ve gotten older, I've learned that feminism is flawed. The first two waves were racially exclusive, with notable suffragettes like Susan B. Anthony talking bad about black women. The current wave of feminism (third or fourth, depending on your opinion) is trying its best to be inclusive, but it still falls short. I often feel that I am left out of conversations on intersectional feminism. Where is a Mexican woman’s place in the revolution?

Feminism tends to cater to cisgender upper-class white women and that doesn’t leave a lot of room for women who don’t fit those standards. Even the second annual Women’s March catered to those women. There’s nothing wrong with including cisgender upper-class white women, but those shouldn’t be the only women lifted up.

And yet, with all that being said, I am still a feminist.

I am a feminist because I believe in the power of women. If conversations about feminism don’t include me, I will include myself. If they don’t include trans women, women of color or poor women, I will bring them into the conversation. As Midy Aponte said, “If you don’t have a seat at the table, bring your own chair.”

I know that change begins from within, and if I am unhappy with some parts of feminism, I can make the change to be better. I am the change I want to see in the world. I am constantly checking my feminism to make sure that I'm standing up for all women, not just women like me. As Audre Lorde said, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”

Where my feminism falls short, I will take a step back and educate myself. Where it's not my place to speak on other’s behalf, I will listen. Where it is my path to march, I will.

Cover Image Credit: Christina Madueno

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Oprah Shouldn't Run for President

and neither should any other celebrities.

Oprah gave a great speech at the Golden Globes, sure. However, a great speech doesn't mean you should launch a Presidential campaign. Neither does years of talk show hosting and giving away free cars. The Presidency of the United States isn't a gig built or designed for men and women who made their way through television and the internet. No, instead it's built for men and women who study and work for years in the job they're running for.

Donald Trump was a fun experiment into what a celebrity in the Oval Office may be like, but it has quickly worn thin. I think we can all agree another 250 or so years before another celebrity seems like a good minimum, at least.

Here's the thing about Oprah: she has no political or business experience. Donald Trump at the least was a multi-billionaire who ran an international real estate empire and could tout that as a pro for the economy. Oprah can tout her car giveaway skills, or maybe her elegance in speech-giving, but that's not going to get anyone very far in the terms of national politics.

In 2016, we had over fifteen really good, qualified politicians who ran for the White House and position as "Leader of the Free World." However, none apparently stood a chance against the Celebrity himself, Donald Trump. Since his election, Donald Trump has spurred a lot of very unqualified individuals into running for office, like Chelsea Manning, and given rumors about even more, like Kid Rock or Tim McGraw.

A celebrity politician has appeal. It's fun, fresh, interesting to talk about, and everyone already knows the person in question, probably a little too well. Yet, none of the same rules apply. Sex scandals mean nothing to these celebrities political careers apparently, their lack of experience is touted as a pro rather than a con, and digging up dirt is relatively easy, yet meaningless, as most everyone already knows it, or at the least expects it, anyways.

Celebrities can bring some unique things to the political table. They can drum up support for controversial topics they believe in, lead national campaigns like #MeToo, or they can even endorse politicians and help lend them votes. What isn't helpful however, is when they actually seek the office.

Oprah is uniquely unqualified to be President, and the fact that one really passionate speech at the Golden Globes drums up support and rumors of a 2020 run concerns me. The Presidency of the United States used to be a far-fetched, important, and specific job. Now, it's turning into a resumé booster for celebrities whose careers are just a bit past peak.

So, Oprah, and other celebrities, please take your money and fame and keep it in Beverly Hills. I don't like a lot of politicians, but they're predictable and at least somewhat experienced and that's perfectly okay with me.

Cover Image Credit: NoInvite

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