An excerpt from Time‘s article on “The Silence Breakers,” who’ve been named TIME Person of the Year 2017:
This reckoning appears to have sprung up overnight. But it has actually been simmering for years, decades, centuries. Women have had it with bosses and co-workers who not only cross boundaries but don’t even seem to know that boundaries exist. They’ve had it with the fear of retaliation, of being blackballed, of being fired from a job they can’t afford to lose. They’ve had it with the code of going along to get along. They’ve had it with men who use their power to take what they want from women. These silence breakers have started a revolution of refusal, gathering strength by the day, and in the past two months alone, their collective anger has spurred immediate and shocking results: nearly every day, CEOs have been fired, moguls toppled, icons disgraced. In some cases, criminal charges have been brought.
Trump came in second, disproving his previous boast that he’d be Person of the Year. As Rachel Withers at Slate noted in her headline, “Time’s 2017 Person of the Year Isn’t Trump. It’s a Rebuke of Trump.” And of Trumpism, I might add.
Who are “The Silence Breakers”? Those on the cover represent the many who’ve boldly come forth with recent allegations against powerful men who abuse and “include actress Ashley Judd, singer Taylor Swift, former Uber engineer Susan Fowler, Visa lobbyist Adama Iwu, Mexican agricultural worker Isabel Pascual, and one woman whose face cannot be seen” (Vox), who represents the many more victims who are not comfortable being named.
And it’s not only women who’ve been harassed and/or assaulted; some men are also represented.
Below are some of the most salient points made by writers Stephanie Zacharek, Eliana Dockterman, and Haley Sweetland Edwards in their Time “The Silence Breakers” essay.
Regarding Ashley Judd‘s admission that she previously hadn’t known how to report her alleged victimization by Harvey Weinstein:
When movie stars don’t know where to go, what hope is there for the rest of us? What hope is there for the janitor who’s being harassed by a co-worker but remains silent out of fear she’ll lose the job she needs to support her children? For the administrative assistant who repeatedly fends off a superior who won’t take no for an answer? For the hotel housekeeper who never knows, as she goes about replacing towels and cleaning toilets, if a guest is going to corner her in a room she can’t escape?
Almost everybody described wrestling with a palpable sense of shame. Had she somehow asked for it? Could she have deflected it? Was she making a big deal out of nothing?
Nearly all of the people TIME interviewed about their experiences expressed a crushing fear of what would happen to them personally, to their families or to their jobs if they spoke up.
Many of the people who have come forward also mentioned a different fear, one less visceral but no less real, as a reason for not speaking out: if you do, your complaint becomes your identity.
“All social movements have highly visible precipitating factors,” says Aldon Morris, a professor of sociology at Northwestern University. “In this case, you had Harvey Weinstein, and before that you had Trump.”
In politics, at least, what constitutes disqualifying behavior seemed to depend not on your actions but on the allegiance of your tribe. In the 1990s, feminists stood up for accused abuser Bill Clinton instead of his accusers—a move many are belatedly regretting as the national conversation prompts a re-evaluation of the claims against the former President. And despite the allegations against Moore, both President Trump and the Republican National Committee support him.