The Silence Breakers


In wake of the 27 accusations of sexual assault against film producer Harvey Weinstein, many others have followed in the path of those women and exposed other cases of sexual assault in Hollywood and in the workplace. TIME Magazine announced the Person of the Year, six women who brought the reality of sexual assault into the public eye.

“The galvanizing actions of the women on our cover, along with those of hundreds of others, and of many men as well, have unleashed one of the highest-velocity shifts in our culture since the 1960s,” TIME Magazine’s editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal said.

On the cover is creator of the “Me Too” campaign Tarana Burke, actress Ashley Judd, actress Alyssa Milano, musician Taylor Swift, engineer Susan Fowler and the arm of a faceless woman.

Tarana Burke started the #MeToo campaign in 2006 on MySpace to promote “empowerment through empathy” for women of color who have experienced sexual abuse. The movement was given a spotlight in October when actress Alyssa Milano tweeted, “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too.’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” Burke responded by saying, “I think now the work really begins. The hashtag is a declaration. But now we’re poised to really stand up and do the work,” Burke said. “These are all things that we have to set in motion, and as women we have to support each other and stand together and say that’s it, we’re done, no more.”

Ashley Judd is an American actress who was sexually assaulted by Harvey Weinstein in 1997 before her career took off. Judd recalled when she told a friend about Weinstein’s abuse, her screenwriter friend said it was an “open secret passed around on the whisper network that had been furrowing through Hollywood for years.” In October of 2017, Judd finally came forward, accusing Weinstein of sexual misconduct, even though he denies it saying he “never laid a glove” on her. Judd was the first women to come forward about the sexual misconduct from Weinstein, starting the movement for women to come forward.

Alyssa Milano, current host of Project Runway All Stars, came forward about her experience being sexually harassed by Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein is the producer of Project Runway All Stars, so Milano had close contact with him. Milano explained in a statement that she, “waited to make a statement about controversy out of respect for her friendship with the fallen Hollywood producer’s wife, Georgina Chapman, who recently announced she was leaving Weinstein.” She also used her platform to express her support for victims and make a point that this is not exclusive to Hollywood. “This is a sick culture. Men like Harvey Weinstein are around every corner.”

Taylor Swift is arguably the first A-list star who has come forward about sexual misconduct and has been a voice for women who have been silent. Swift accused former Denver DJ David Mueller of groping her at a meet-and-greet in 2013. She has continually been a voice for victims of sexual assault and abuse. “I would tell people who find themselves in this situation that there is a great deal of blame placed on the victims in cases of sexual harassment and assault,” Swift said. “You could be blamed for the fact that it happened, for reporting it and blamed for how you reacted. My advice is that you not blame yourself and do not accept the blame others will try to place on you.” She sued Mueller for a dollar, trying to make a statement out of the case and bring more attention to this continuous problem.

The faceless arm on the right of the photo represents the people who have not come forward and the people who have. It is symbolic of both men and women in the shadows who fear coming forward about their own sexual assault experiences. The arm stands for everyone who has been suffering in silence for years, and that they are not alone.

The apparent runner up of the Person of the Year was President Donald Trump, who himself has been accused by 10 women of sexual misconduct. Trump claimed in a tweet that TIME Magazine had called him to say he would probably be the Person of Year, but he declined saying, “Probably is no good,” and took a pass. Felsenthal clarified they never called Trump about being Person of the Year and a spokesman for TIME said in a statement to the press that “The President is incorrect about how we choose Person of the Year.”

Until 1999, the award was called “Man of the Year”. Still to this day, not a single American woman has been awarded “Person of the Year”. When a woman does win, they are either accompanied by a man or other women in their award.

TIME magazine’s Person of the Year, featuring five prominent women and one anonymous, makes a statement about the new era we are entering for women. It is such a volatile time in our world for women of all kinds, and this is the first step in the right direction for equality.


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