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Time’s Person of the Year: The Silence Breakers

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Alexandra Bettez, Editing Contributor

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Time Magazine has once again strayed from the traditional angle of their “Person of the Year” piece and named a number of people as the most important of 2017. Seemingly overnight, women have broken their silence and have spoken about their experiences with sexual assault, bringing to light the prevalence that sexual assault has not only in Hollywood, but in all aspects of our society. Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Taylor Swift, Megyn Kelly, Alyssa Milano, and Tarana Burke.

Even though many accusations are coming out now, this reckoning has been brewing for decades and even centuries. A few women brave enough to break their silence, standing up to fears of being blackballed or fired. Two months after the first story of sexual harassment broke out, this issue has become a movement, labeled by Alyssa Milano’s #MeToo campaign.

Time Magazine’s editor-in-chief said on the Today Show on Wednesday that the movement is the “fastest-moving social change we’ve seen in decades, and it began with individual acts of courage by women and some men, too.”

Arguably the beginning of this movement can be traced back to the shocking allegations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein on October 5th, which in turn gave others the inspiration to come forward with their own stories. It didn’t stop in Hollywood – hospital workers, hotel employees, immigrants, people of color, and LGBTQ individuals have since come forward.

In coming forward, many women have felt empowered by the solidarity of the movement. Activist Tarana Burke said in the Time article: “Sexual harassment 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.”

The article not only brought to attention the consequences for the perpetrators whose victims have spoken out, but the ones who have yet to face the consequences. Last year, an Access Hollywood tape came out, which manifests future President Donald Trump making brazen comments about harassing women. The tape was a jolt to Americans, in a society where sexual harassment is usually taboo. “[H]arassment becomes ‘inappropriate behavior,’ assualt becomes ‘misconduct,’ rape becomes ‘abuse.” We’re accustomed to hearing those softened words…The language used by the man who would become America’s 45th President…was, by any standard, vulgar.”

It may very well have been the election of Donald Trump, a man who has been accused of over twenty women of harassment, which ignited the desire for many to speak up. Millions of women, not only Clinton supporters, marched across the nation in January in the Women’s March. Megyn Kelly, anchor on NBC who came out with her story about Fox News executive Bill O’Reilly earlier this year, addressed this issue in the Time article. “I have real doubts about whether we’d be going through this if Hillary Clinton had won, because I think that President Trump’s election in many ways was a setback for women.”

Since the New York Times published the groundbreaking story on Harvey Weinstein’s accusers, many powerful men have lost their jobs as a result of victims coming forward. Weinstein’s company’s board fired him, the head of Amazon studios left his job, an Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey was removed from a completed movie. It doesn’t just stop in America. Britain’s Defense Secretary quit, while marches commenced in France and #MeToo spread to 85 countries.

Even though we are still in the height of this revolution, people are still thinking of making sure it stays alive. It is time for our society to recognize that sexual harassment is unacceptable in any setting. It is because of these silence breakers that the world is listening, and time will tell if this movement stands for change.

 

Read the full Time article here: http://time.com/time-person-of-the-year-2017-silence-breakers/

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Time’s Person of the Year: The Silence Breakers