Activist Tarana Burke began the movement to call out predators by affirming other women’s experiences with the phrase “me, too.” French journalist Sandra Muller launched a similar movement in France with the hashtag #BalanceTonPorc, or “expose your pig.” Taylor Swift took her assailant to court after he sued her and said she was lying, for a symbolic $1, to show other women that they deserve to be believed.
These women, and tens of other women, and men, too, are all part of the “silence breakers” who have been made Time‘s Person of the Year. The people who have said enough is enough and mustered the courage to speak out against a culture that allows sexual harassment and assault, and more importantly, the powerful men enabled by it.
— TIME (@TIME) December 6, 2017
Time‘s feature on the women and men includes 22 individual portraits and interviews of the silence breakers telling their stories, as well as three group portraits of women who banded together against institutions in their communities.
In one photo, seven women in pink and black stand together, all having filed suit against New York City’s Plaza Hotel for “normalizing and trivializing sexual assault” among employees. Two University of Rochester professors stand side-by-side, having filed complaints with the university and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for harassment and retaliation.
This was conceived, reported and written by women. It was fact-checked by women. The video was shot and edited by women. The layout and photo spread were designed by women. It's one of the reasons I'm proud to work at @time https://t.co/ekMMIBV0Vc
— Charlotte Alter (@CharlotteAlter) December 6, 2017
Despite the tens of named women and men in the piece, however, one Texas hospital worker has chosen to remain anonymous, as has a former office assistant, out of fear of retaliation, illustrating just how much farther this movement must go for all women to feel comfortable reporting their own experiences of sexual harassment and assault—not just the women who have the power and privilege to say something.
On that note, the fact that Time chose President Donald Trump, who has been accused by over a dozen women of sexual assault and harassment, as the magazine’s first runner-up for Person of the Year, also illustrates just how much longer this journey will be. Sure, Time did well by the women and men it profiled, but what does it mean that a man who has admitted, on tape, to sexually assaulting women was still deemed an honorable person by the publication?
Regardless of the how slow this process may be, however, it has given hope to several of the women who have participated in the project that things are changing faster than anticipated.
“I always thought maybe things could change for my daughter,” journalist and former Fox News host Megyn Kelly said. “I never thought things could change for me.”
Watch the full video on the Time Person of the Year below: