The TIME Magazine Person of the Year annual award is highly anticipated by many and features someone or a group that has influenced the year, for good or bad. The issue has featured politicians, entrepreneurs, religious figures among others. Some famous faces that have received this honor have included Mark Zuckerberg, Barack Obama, Pope Francis, Ebola Fighters, and last years recipient, current U.S. president Donald Trump. This year's choice is "The Silence Breakers", the men and women who have spoken out publicly against sexual abuse and harassment, and it debatably might be TIME's most influential choice yet.
The issue focuses on the of "#MeToo Movement" created 10 years ago but became a prominent social campaign in response to the sexual abuse allegations against big-time Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. The movement has provided a platform for millions of victims to step up and share their stories surrounding sexual assault and harassment. Since the accusations against Weinstein have come out, many other powerful figures including Kevin Spacey, Minnesota Senator Al Franken, Matt Lauer, Louis C.K, and Bill O'Reilly to name a few. The flood of sexual misconduct statements against public figures has been considered a "national reckoning" across the United States and the world. However, as "The Silence Breakers" explain, these allegations are anything but new.
"The Silence Breakers" bring up their initial fear in speaking out. How they were afraid for their jobs, image, family and in some cases, their lives. The article includes testimonies from men and women of all different backgrounds who hold a number of different occupations from entertainers to a dishwasher, who have all experienced misconduct in their professional and personal lives and have chosen to come forward. Some of the famous faces include Ashley Judd, Taylor Swift, Selma Blair, Terry Crews, Megyn Kelly, and Tarana Burke, the original creator of the "#MeToo" movement. The cover features the elbow of a woman who has been cropped out of the photo to represent those who feel as though they can not reveal their identities when coming forward.
Despite the inner turmoil of deciding to speak out against powerful figures with the threat of backlash, damage to their reputations and repercussions because of their statements. Even with these fears looming, the idea of speaking up for "those who remain silent" turned out to be the motivation many of these victims had in speaking out.
This broken silence gives a voice to this movement and to the millions who stay quiet out of fear with similar experiences. The unity between those who are participating gives the hope that with more people coming forward, others will feel safe to as well. The vulnerability of these stories victims showcased in such a raw way by TIME gives them the outlet to make this movement even bigger. Often referred to as "the problem that has no name" is the problem that occurs when boundaries are crossed by one who doesn't realize the existence of the boundary. One can only hope that change will continue to come with the strength of those speaking against sexual misconduct.
Thank you TIME for acknowledging the importance of these stories and the revolution that has come from their voices being shared. May the notion of having to go along with it and the fear of retaliation die along with the statistic that 2 out of 3 sexual assaults are not reported. May you find your voice and never feel powerless again. Let your silence be broken.