Time names ‘Si­lence Break­ers’ as Per­son of the Year

The Jakarta Post - - HEADLINES -

Time mag­a­zine named as Per­son of the Year Wed­nes­day “the si­lence break­ers” who trig­gered a na­tional reck­on­ing by re­veal­ing the per­va­sive­ness of sex­ual ha­rass­ment, as­sault and abuse in United States life.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump was run­ner-up in the pres­ti­gious rank­ing, ahead of his Chi­nese coun­ter­part Xi Jinping.

Time des­ig­nated as “si­lence break­ers” the in­di­vid­u­als, mostly women, who came for­ward this year to pub­licly ex­pose pat­terns of sex­ual ha­rass­ment, as­sault and even rape by some of so­ci­ety’s most pow­er­ful pub­lic fig­ures.

Those rec­og­nized by Time range from fa­mous ac­tresses who took on dis­graced Hol­ly­wood mogul Har­vey We­in­stein to ev­ery­day women who shared their sto­ries of abuse us­ing the hash­tag #MeToo and its for­eign lan­guage equiv­a­lents.

The ac­cu­sa­tions against We­in­stein, who has de­nied en­gag­ing in non-con­sen­sual sex, proved a tip­ping point for a flood of sor­did rev­e­la­tions in­volv­ing other ti­tans of Hol­ly­wood, big busi­ness, pol­i­tics and the news me­dia.

Many once-ad­mired lead­ers in their fields have been fired or sus­pended, their ca­reers left in tat­ters.

One of the fig­ures sin­gled out by Time, Ash­ley Judd, was the first ac­tress to come for­ward on the record to make ac­cu­sa­tions against the 65-year-old We­in­stein. She was fol­lowed by more than a hun­dred oth­ers, and a wa­ter­shed mo­ment be­gan.

“When a movie star says #MeToo, it be­comes eas­ier to be­lieve the cook who’s been qui­etly en­dur­ing for years,” a Time ar­ti­cle read.

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

“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.”

The Per­son of the Year an­nounce­ment came as The New York Times pub­lished a re­port de­tail­ing a wide­spread “com­plic­ity ma­chine” of pow­er­ful re­la­tion­ships that en­abled We­in­stein to si­lence or in­tim­i­date his ac­cusers for years.

We­in­stein has de­nied via his lawyers and spokes­peo­ple that he en­gaged in any non-con­sen­sual be­hav­ior. He has not been charged with any crimes, though in­ves­ti­ga­tions have been launched in Lon­don, Los An­ge­les and New York.

A num­ber of men also have re­vealed they were vic­tims of sex­ual abuse, in­clud­ing An­thony Rapp, who ac­cused Os­car-win­ning ac­tor Kevin Spacey of mak­ing sex­ual ad­vances on him when he was a teenager.

More than a dozen men have since come for­ward with sim­i­lar ac­cu­sa­tions against Spacey, some of whom were teens at the time of the al­leged abuse.

The wave of al­le­ga­tions has also hit the US Congress, where the long­est serv­ing mem­ber of the House, Demo­crat John Cony­ers, an­nounced his re­tire­ment Tues­day and pres­sure is mount­ing on Demo­cratic Sen­a­tor Al Franken to re­sign. Both men have been ac­cused by mul­ti­ple women of sex­ual mis­con­duct.

The scope of the prob­lem na­tion­wide is re­flected in a Quin­nip­iac Univer­sity poll re­leased Tues­day: It said 47 per­cent of Amer­i­can women say they have been sex­u­ally as­saulted.

On Time’s cover is a com­pos­ite group pho­to­graph fea­tur­ing Judd, along with singer Tay­lor Swift and ex-Uber en­gi­neer Su­san Fowler.

“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 edi­tor-in-chief Ed­ward Felsenthal said in a state­ment.

Call­ing #MeToo a “pow­er­ful ac­cel­er­ant,” Felsenthal noted the hash­tag has been used mil­lions of times in at least 85 coun­tries.

“The idea that in­flu­en­tial, in­spi­ra­tional in­di­vid­u­als shape the world could not be more apt this year,” Felsenthal said.

“For giv­ing voice to open secrets, for mov­ing whis­per net­works onto so­cial net­works, for push­ing us all to stop ac­cept­ing the un­ac­cept­able, The Si­lence Break­ers are the 2017 Per­son of the Year.”

Time has des­ig­nated an in­di­vid­ual or group who has most in­flu­enced the year’s news and events as Per­son of the Year since 1927.

Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel, who won the Time honor in 2015 at the height of the refugee in­flux into her coun­try, paid trib­ute to the “Si­lence Break­ers.”

“We must thank them for their courage in break­ing the si­lence about sex­ual as­sault and for the global dis­cus­sion they sparked,” she said, ac­cord­ing to her spokesman St­ef­fen Seib­ert on Twit­ter.


Speak­ing out: Ash­ley Judd (top), Su­san Fowler (sec­ond right), Adama Iwu (bot­tom), Tay­lor Swift (right) and Is­abel Pas­cual (a pseu­do­nym) are pic­tured on the cover for Time mag­a­zine’s 2017 Per­son of the Year is­sue in this photo ob­tained by Reuters on Dec. 6.

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