Time’s Person of the Year: ‘The Silence Breakers’ for speaking out against sexual harassment

Time’s Person of the Year cover for 2017.

Time magazine has named ‘‘The Silence Breakers’’ as its 2017 Person of the Year, recognizing the women (and some men) who came forward with stories of sexual harassment and assault and helped force a nationwide reckoning.

The magazine calls them ‘‘the voices that launched a movement.’’

Among them are Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan, the actresses whose stunning accusations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein helped lead to his downfall, and activist Tarana Burke, creator of the #MeToo movement, along with the Hollywood star who amplified it on social media, Alyssa Milano.


‘‘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’s editor in chief, Edward Felsenthal, told NBC’s ‘‘Today’’ show Wednesday.

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These ‘‘silence breakers’’ have forced a national reckoning on sexual harassment.

The media’s endless stream of sexual harassment investigations and the countless #MeToo accounts of harassment, sexual abuse, and worse have ensnared an ever-growing list of public figures: celebrities, executives, politicians, business leaders, whose lives and careers have come crashing down, or are dangerously close to doing so.

Like Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer and Mark Halperin and former NPR news chief Michael Oreskes.

Like Russell Simmons and Louis C.K. and Kevin Spacey and James Levine and Senator Al Franken, the Minnesota Democrat.


Like John Conyers Jr., Democrat of Michigan, the erstwhile dean of the House who resigned Tuesday from the House amid mounting allegations of sexual harassment.

The barrage of sexual misconduct accusations, from Hollywood to Capitol Hill, came after the Weinstein scandal exploded in public view — with claims from numerous women who said he sexually harassed them, assaulted them, and even raped them.

And a social media movement emerged with the hashtag #MeToo, which has been used more than 3 million times on Twitter, according to company data.

In its Person of the Year 2017 cover story, Time noted that ‘‘this moment is borne of a very real and potent sense of unrest. Yet it 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. Women have had it with bosses and co-workers who not only cross boundaries but don’t even seem to know that boundaries exist. They’ve had it with the fear of retaliation, of being blackballed, of being fired from a job they can’t afford to lose. They’ve had it with the code of going along to get along. They’ve had it with men who use their power to take what they want from women. These silence breakers have started a revolution of refusal, gathering strength by the day, and in the past two months alone, their collective anger has spurred immediate and shocking results: nearly every day, CEOs have been fired, moguls toppled, icons disgraced. In some cases, criminal charges have been brought.


‘‘Emboldened by Judd, Rose McGowan and a host of other prominent accusers, women everywhere have begun to speak out about the inappropriate, abusive, and in some cases illegal behavior they’ve faced. When multiple harassment claims bring down a charmer like former “Today” show host Matt Lauer, women who thought they had no recourse see a new, wide-open door. When a movie star says #MeToo, it becomes easier to believe the cook who’s been quietly enduring for years.’’

In choosing its Person of the Year, Time has said it names the person or people who had the greatest influence over the past 12 months.