Today, TIME selected “the silence breakers” as “2017 Person of the Year” in the new issue, while releasing the latest cover photo, in which there are actress Ashley Judd, who is the very first one to uncover the improper behaviors from Harvey Weinstein publicly, and Susan Fowler, an Uber engineer accusing high authorities of sexual harassment, and famous singer Taylor Swift are also included. In the photo, they all dress in black and look serious.
“The silence breakers” refer broadly to a large group of people who summon up to expose their past experience of being violated. They were emboldened by Ashley Judd to stand out and, inspired by the #MeToo activity which was initiated by another actress Alyssa Miliano to post their own experience of any kind of sexual harassment on social websites with a hashtag #Metoo. The huge wave of #MeToo has triggered the US and even the whole world the spread of the exposure sexual harassment. Many moguls from press, business, and politics are spilled that they are recidivists of sexual harassment, with their power or advance in working environment. Moreover, their offensive behaviors were open secrets passed around, but barely treated seriously. However those are part of the picture, but not all of it.
The victims mentioned in the interview from TIME that they didn’t know how to deal with those things that had happened to them, wrestling with a palpable sense of shame, and even came up with poisonous thoughts if they did anything wrong to make people think the violation of their body was O.K.
Nearly all of the people TIME interviewed expressed a crushing fear of what would happen to them personally, and even to their families and jobs if they spoke up. If they raised their voices, would they be blackballed, would they be fired? For some, the fear was borne of a threat of physical violence. One if the interviewee said that she felt trapped when her harasser began to stalk her home, but she was powerless to stop him. Warned by the abuser, if she leaked out, he would come after her children.
It has actually been simmering for years, decades, centuries that women have been under the shadow of sexual harassment and assault with bosses and co-workers who spanned boundaries all the time without minding. When movie stars don’t know where to go, what hope is there for those who often the most vulnerable in society such as immigrants, people of color, low-income workers and LGBTQ people? According to a 2015 survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality, 47% of transgender people report being sexually assaulted at some point in their lives, both in and out of the workplace.
The editors of TIME pick one person or group every year as “Person of the Year” from all events in past year since 1927. Chiang Kai-shek and Jiang Song Mei-ling were selected as the person of the year in 1937 during the World War 2, which was the very first time that “Person of the Year” are two people. In 1950, the editors of TIME had considered if there was a person who was influential beyond anyone, and ended up with no conclusion. Eventually they chose American warriors in Korean War. Since then, “Person of the Year from TIME means more, so that specific symbol also has the chance to be chosen. For example; “personal computer’ was the on the cover in 1966, and that was the first time “Person of the Year” wasn’t alive. “You” is the person of the year in 2006 to represent everyone using the Internet in the information age.