The #MeToo movement has caught serious traction in the past few months for empowering victims of sexual harassment and abuse to share their stories after being silenced for some time. They’ve started not just a conversation, but a reckoning that today jumped from your social media feed to the cover of Time magazine’s annual Person of the Year issue.
“This is the fastest-moving social change we’ve seen in decades,” Edward Felsenthal, Time editor in chief, told Today‘s Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb. Time is calling the group “The Silence Breakers,” and the mostly female circle makes up “the voices that launched a movement,” the magazine declared.
Five women appear on the cover of the 91st Person of the Year issue, including Taylor Swift and Ashley Judd. The picture has them in front of a dark gray backdrop, all wearing black, none smiling. In the bottom right-hand corner, there’s an elbow that belongs to none of the women. The body part, according to Time national correspondent Charlotte Alter, is meant to represent the additional anonymous women who came forward to share their stories with the magazine.
The story addresses the seemingly countless instances of sexual abuse and harassment the women whom Time interviewed have faced, including Harvey Weinstein–related allegations; Taylor Swift’s countersuit against David Mueller, the Denver radio DJ who reached up her skirt during a photo opp; and the explosion of the #MeToo movement. A major takeaway is that sexual harassment is happening everywhere, from Hollywood to hospital cafeterias and yoga studios. The women who shared their stories anonymously are included in photos throughout the issue, but their faces aren’t shown. Those images are particularly haunting, as any could be your friend, your colleague, your neighbor.
“This is the fastest-moving social change we’ve seen in decades.” —Edward Felsenthal, Time editor in chief
The decision to select these women was one Felsenthal said was “especially hard this year, a year of so much disruption in the United States and around the world.” He acknowledged the “parade of headlines” throughout 2017, like the Women’s March in January and the most recent allegations against Hollywood’s biggest power brokers. “It began with individual acts of courage by hundreds of women and some men, too, who came forward to tell their own stories of sexual harassment and assault,” Felsenthal told the Today hosts, whose own former colleague, Matt Lauer, was fired from NBC last week in relation to sexual harassment claims.
For weeks—since President Trump’s tweet LOL’d ’round the world—there’s been speculation about who would win the Person of the Year title. (The magazine disputed the president’s declaration, BTW.) Ironically enough, President Trump was selected as the runner-up Person of the Year, despite an alleged history of sexual misconduct with more than 10 women.
While this movement didn’t need a flashy magazine cover to show how important it is to listen to victims, more recognition for the empowered voices coming forward can’t do anything but good.