Every year, Time Magazine releases their “Person of the Year” issue, which highlights either the person or the group of people that Time feels have made the most impact over the past year. This year, Time is recognizing “The Silence Breakers” - the founder of the #MeToo movement and the others who spoke out against sexual harassment over the past year. Runners-up included 2016’s Person of the Year Donald Trump, special counsel prosecutor Robert Mueller, football player Colin Kaepernick, and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
The #MeToo movement began when actress Alyssa Milano, inspired by a friend, tweeted "If you've been sexually harassed or assaulted write 'me too' as a reply to this tweet" on October 15. The post received 30,000 responses overnight. Within 24 hours, there were 12 million responses and related posts on Facebook alone from individuals speaking out against their harassment.
The women interviewed noted the movement follows the election of a man caught on tape saying words too vulgar to be posted on Vector. These comments inspired a new style of hat, whose name also includes the vulgar word, and enhanced the turnout to the Women’s March back in January 2017 (3 million people across the country). Several of the women interviewed in Time’s article cited both Donald Trump’s election and the Women’s March as sources that compelled them to speak out.
Time’s article focuses on the importance of speaking out against sexual harassment, the desire for which it says has “been simmering for years, decades, centuries.” It begins by detailing actress Ashley Judd’s experiences with Harvey Weinstein. “When movie stars don’t know where to go [to report sexual harassment],” Time asks, “what hope is there for the rest of us?” Conversely, “when a movie star says #MeToo, it becomes easier to believe the cook who's been quietly enduring for years.”
Time follows with the stories of several other women - hospital workers, hotel employees, immigrants - who suffered sexual harassment and were afraid to speak up for fear of being physically hurt, losing their jobs, or having their family targeted. Many women did finally raise their voices, but often the effects were unsatisfactory. One hospital worker must continue to work side-by-side with a man who was caught on camera harassing her. Even when cases are resolved to the victim’s satisfaction, often they still face retaliation: they may be blamed for the fallout of their abuser’s actions, since if they hadn’t spoken up, it would have gone unpunished. For example, Taylor Swift was asked in court if she felt bad that her actions had led to the firing of the DJ who groped her.
The article ends by asking how the movement will change the world. It notes that the quickest groups to respond are those that are most sensitive to public opinion: companies are changing their messages to be harder on sexual harassment, and government bodies are passing some changes. Chicago hotel employees who work alone are now mandated to have a panic button, for example. Actors such as Louis CK and Kevin Spacey have lost all their current work. Time believes that #MeToo has started down the right path, “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.”