Women Known as 'Silence Breakers' Won Time Magazine's Person of the Year

By Faith Magbanua, December 08, 2017 05:12 AM

Time Magazine's 2017 Person of the Year(Facebook/ Screenshot)

Not many are aware that no American woman has ever won Time magazine's "Person of the Year" by herself, over the course of the 91 years that the magazine has proffered the title. The first time an American woman was named "Person of the Year" (or, at that time, "Man of the Year") to the exclusion of any man was in 1975, when the winner of the title was ... "American Women."

Before that, American women were included in the winning group twice, first when "The Inheritor" won in 1966 - apparently a reference to baby boomers - and then in 1969 when "Middle Americans" did.

However, things took a different turn on Wednesday, as the magazine pronounced its 2017 winner.

The winner or rather winners, are known as "The Silence Breakers," a reference to the women (and a few men) who spoke out about sexual harassment, precipitating a remarkable moment of public accountability for people - almost all men - in positions of power in the country

The award came into light as somewhat related to the #MeToo hashtag which sprung up as allegations emerged against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein came into light.

However, according to Time, the hashtag is "part of the picture, but not all of it".

"This is the fastest-moving social change we've seen in decades," editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal said.

He said to a media correspondent that it "began with individual acts of courage by hundreds of women - and some men, too - who came forward to tell their own stories".

Illustrations of ubiquitous nature of sexual harassment has been the topic for the magazine; the feature presents women from markedly different backgrounds on its cover.

To add to that, two celebrities are highlighted in the cover - Ashley Judd, one of the first to voice out against Weinstein, and pop singer Taylor Swift, who won a civil case against an ex-DJ who she said had grabbed her bottom.

Those models are shown alongside Isabel Pascual, a 42-year-old strawberry picker from Mexico (not her real name); Adama Iwu, a 40-year-old corporate lobbyist in Sacramento; and Susan Fowler, 26, a former Uber engineer whose allegation brought down Uber's CEO.

This "moment", the magazine says, "doesn't have a leader, or a single, unifying tenet. The hashtag #MeToo (swiftly adapted into #BalanceTonPorc, #YoTambien, #Ana_kaman and many others), which to date has provided an umbrella of solidarity for millions of people to come forward with their stories, is part of the picture, but not all of it.

"This reckoning appears to have sprung up overnight. But it has actually been simmering for years, decades, centuries."

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump was named as the runner-up. He was given the title last year.

A tradition that sparked in 1927 as "Man of the Year" - recognizes the person who "for better or for worse... has done the most to influence the events of the year".

The great majority of people selected have been individuals - but by no means all. In 2014, "Ebola fighters" were recognized while in 2011 "The Protester" acknowledged the significance of the so-called Arab Spring.

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