Time names 'The Silence Breakers' Person of the Year

Culture

Ashley Judd

In 1997, upcomer Ashley Judd was invited to meet star-maker Harvey Weinstein at an LA hotel, whereupon he tried to coerce her into bed. Judd escaped but refused to be silenced. Many in Hollywood then said the producer's sexual misconduct was an "open secret." "There wasn't a place for us to report these experiences," said Judd, the first to call out Weinstein in the New York Times in October.

Culture

Rose McGowan

When actor Rose McGowan first told people that Harvey Weinstein had raped her, she says some in Hollywood threatened to end her career. "They threatened [me] with being blacklisted. I was blacklisted after I was raped, because I got raped, because I said something," she said in a January interview first published in the Observer. But that didn't stop her from later speaking out.

Culture

Taylor Swift

When Taylor Swift alleged that Denver radio DJ David Mueller reached under her skirt and groped her, he took her to court after it lead to his firing. "I'm not going to let you or your client make me feel in any way that this is my fault," she told his lawyer. Swift also told Time magazine that if Mueller was "brazen enough to assault me... imagine what he might do to a vulnerable, young artist."

Culture

Selma Blair

Blair claims that writer/director James Toback invited her to his room and asked her to remove her clothing while she read a script before asking her for sex. When she refused, he blocked her way and masturbated against her leg. He then threatened to kill her if she dared to talk. "I didn't want to speak up because, it sounds crazy but, even until now, I have been scared for my life," said Blair.

Culture

Alyssa Milano

"Me Too" was first used in 2006 by gender equality activist Tarana Burke as a rallying cry for young sexual harassment and assault survivors. Actor Alyssa Milano was sent a screenshot of the phrase in October and later tweeted: "If you've been sexually harassed or assaulted write 'me too' as a reply to this tweet." She woke to find that over 30,000 people had used #MeToo and burst into tears.

Culture

Wendy Walsh

After Bill O'Reilly and Fox News spent millions on lawyers to settle, and silence, sexual harassment claims, Wendy Walsh, a psychologist and Fox contributor spoke out about O'Reilly after initial reluctance for fear of retaliation. "I felt it was my duty," Walsh told Time, "as a mother of daughters, as an act of love for women everywhere and the women who are silenced, to be brave."

Culture

Megyn Kelly

TV news anchor Megyn Kelly has accused Fox host Bill O'Reilly of sexual harassment. "What if we did complain?" she said to Time, "if we spoke our truth in our strongest voices? What if that worked to change reality right now?" Perhaps that change has already started to come. "I always thought maybe things could change for my daughter," said Kelly. "I never thought things could change for me."

Culture

Susan Fowler

An Uber engineer, Fowler felt powerless with "a harasser in the White House" and decided to out sexual harassers at Uber in a blog post. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick was subsequently forced to resign and 20-odd employees were fired. "There's something really empowering about standing up for what's right," said Fowler, who has been described as a whistle-blower — which she calls "a badge of honor."

Culture

Terry Crews

The actor and former American football star is one of a number of men who have said "me too." Crews has taken out a sexual assault lawsuit against talent agent Adam Venit, who he accuses of groping him at a party in Hollywood in February 2016. Also among Time's Silence Breakers is actor Blaise Godbe Lipman, who's accused talent agent Tyler Grasham of sexually assaulting him when he was a teenager.

The anti-harassment movement has been given the title by Time magazine. The US publication called attention to the pervasive nature of sexual assault and the difficulty most victims face in getting justice.

Time magazine announced on Wednesday that its Person of the Year for 2017 was "the Silence Breakers," referring to everyone who has come forward about sexual harassment and assault, casting light on a pervasive behavior that has long gone ignored or covered up.

"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," the magazine wrote.

"They've had it with the fear of retaliation, of being blackballed, of being fired from a job they can't afford to lose."

The magazine's decision was applauded by, among others, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who also lauded the courage of the women who have come forward to share their experiences.

"We have them to thank for the courage to break the silence over sexual assault and for the global debate that has ensued," Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, quoted her as saying on Twitter. 

The Weinstein effect

Featured prominently on the cover is actress Ashley Judd, one of the most high-profile accusers of disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

The unmasking of Weinstein, along with his network of enablers, lawyers and other employees who kept his serial harassment secret for decades by the New Yorker and the New York Times in October, is what opened the floodgates for hundreds of women to gain the courage to speak out against their attackers.

Judd says she told "everyone" she knew about the time Weinstein assaulted her at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills in 1997, but that nothing came of it.

"Were we supposed to call some fantasy attorney general of moviedom?" Judd told Time. "There wasn't a place for us to report these experiences."

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Assaulted? Harassed? #metoo

The revelations about Weinstein have since engulfed dozens of powerful men from politics, entertainment and journalism such as Kevin Spacey, George H.W. Bush, Charlie Rose and President Donald Trump.

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Weinstein's exposure also prompted the viral social media campaign #MeToo - which encouraged women to share their experiences of harassment and assault.

While the movement to expose inappropriate behavior has provided relief and vindication to many, as Time points out, systemic sexism is less high-profile industries is even more difficult to combat.

"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?" wrote the magazine's editors.

Controversial choices

Time chooses its Person of the Year each December, considering whatever person, group or idea has "for better or for worse... done the most to influence the events of the year."

This has included several controversial choices such as Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Ayatollah Khomeini.

US President Donald Trump has brought increased attention to Time's Person of the Year since he complained in 2015 that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was chosen over him. Time went on to select him for the title in 2016 shortly after his election.

This year, Trump prompted a great deal of parody responses when he wrote on Twitter: "Time Magazine called to say that I was PROBABLY going to be named 'Man (Person) of the Year,' like last year, but I would have to agree to an interview and a major photo shoot. I said probably is no good and took a pass. Thanks anyway!"

In one of the more memorable responses, Tennis superstar Andy Murray tweeted that the "BBC just called to say I was PROBABLY going to be named sports personality of the year but I would have to agree to an interview and a major photo shoot. I said probably is no good and took a pass. Thanks anyway!"