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Time Magazine: Person of the Year

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Time Magazine: Person of the Year

Virginia Wooten

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Last week during my last class of the day, I walked into Spanish class along with my 12 other friends. We sat in our seats and asked our teacher “Como estas?” like we do every day, expecting to do workbook pages on vocabulary and practice grammar. I took my seat and looked up at the board to see a question written in Spanish that I could not fully comprehend. We raised our hands asking questions about the new words used in the question written, when eventually it clicked. Our teacher had asked us, “What is your opinion on the TIME Magazine group ‘The Silence Breakers’?”. That was when I first heard the reveal of the Person of the Year for 2017.

In the history of journalism, a notable magazine for covering events and people’s accomplishments of their lives is TIME Magazine. TIME is known for its annual “Person of the Year”, a segment focusing on an influential person of that year that impacted the world. In years past, people with positive and negative influences have been front and center of this article- everyone from Malala to Hitler. This year TIME Magazine did something out of the ordinary from its routine and recognized a group of people instead of an individual. This year’s TIME Magazine Person(s) of the Year is the group called The Silence Breakers.

This group of people, dubbed the The Silence Breakers, were chosen as the Person (People) of the Year to recognize their resilience and courage of speaking out about their cases of inappropriate, abusive, and in some instances, illegal behavior they have faced in the workplace. The group of women, along with a few men, who were interviewed and photographed are quite diverse. These people come from all around the globe. They spoke different languages, they are different ethnicities, they come from different social classes, and they have different economic backgrounds. These men and women, everyone from celebrities like Taylor Swift to office assistants that chose to be anonymous, share an unfortunate experience that hundreds of thousands have had. Those in this TIME segment are all victims of sexual assault and harassment from people like their bosses, coworkers, and agents. Some of these people’s stories were first heard twenty years ago, while some only came out recently about their experiences. As soon as one woman spoke out about her experience of assault, it ignited a flame in women to speak out. In 2017, there was a spark of courage in the women and victims of the world to speak out about sexual harassment and obtain the justice they deserve.

 

Tarana Burke, age 44, was the creator of a non profit MeToo movement that encourages sexual harassment survivors to show solidarity to one another. This year the MeToo movement became one of the most talked about topics after actor Alyssa Milano used the hashtag #MeToo when posting about her experience online. Burke spoke about her experience and her take on sexual harassment stating, “[It] does bring shame. And I think it’s really powerful that this transfer is happening, that these women are able not just to share their shame but to put the shame where it belongs: on the perpetrator.”

 

MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

#MeToo doesn’t have a single leader or one person to credit. It is found globally in hundreds of languages across the internet which created solidarity upon millions of people to speak up, to not stay silent, and to fight back with all they have. 2017 has been the year it has been all over the media and news, but in reality this has been an issue needed to be surfaced for decades and centuries. Women refrain from speaking up in fear of retaliation or blackmail, but this movement is all about not being quiet, not staying “nice”, and not holding back. The 1980 Equal Employment Opportunity Commision, which enforces civil rights laws in the workplaces of America, created guidelines stating that sexual harassment is a violation of the Civil Rights Act. Even though it is explicitly illegal, how do you define it? When does an annoying interaction eventually become a criminal offense and qualify for a case in court? There still is not a definition made in the Civil Rights Act that perfectly describes and defines assault. Rose McGowan talks about in her interview how now needs to be the time for a change. “I am here to give you permission to be angry. People are afraid, especially women who have been conditioned since birth to be polite.”

In the segment, there were many people recognized for telling their stories and fighting their perpetrators. This powerful group of women, along with the two men Terry Crews and Blaise Godbe Lipman. Both men faced harassment from other men in the workplace. Crews says when he was asked about his opinion on the movement he said, “Why are you questioning the victim here? Lets flip it. Let’s talk about what the perpetrator is doing.”

Not only were celebrities and high class people recognized. Isabel *Pascual is a strawberry picker. When the allegations against Harvey Weinstein became public in the news, she decided to speak out at the march in Los Angeles about her past experience with being stalked and harrassed at the farm she works at to, in quote, “give a voice to her fellow agricultural workers”. Pascual discusses how when she was harassed, the man threatened to harm her kids if she spoke about the interactions. Eventually, she decided enough was enough after momentous support from her coworkers, and her fear evaporated. “It doesn’t matter if they criticize me. I can support other people who are going through the same thing.”

Megyn Kelly in her interview discusses how she thought things could change for her daughter in her future, but never for herself. “We don’t have to just live like this. […] Women [have been told] to be nice, to be kind, to be liked, to not make waves. [No].” Kelly revealed in 2016 she had been harassed by former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes. He denied her claim up until his death in May. “What if we did complain? What if we didn’t whine, but insisted those around us did better?”

As we wrap up the year 2017, feminists across the globe have made progress for equality and respect, not only in the workplace but in the world. Women are standing up and speaking out, continuing to inspire others to stand up for themselves and for the respect they deserve. Approaching the new year, the world listens on the edge of its seat for the next move for justice.

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Time Magazine: Person of the Year