TIME magazine has honored the women and men who made moves against sexual harassment and assault by naming the #MeToo movement as its 2017 Person of the Year. The magazine’s cover featured five prominent women in the movement: Ashley Judd, Taylor Swift, Susan Fowler, Adama Iwu, and Isabel Pascual, whose name was changed to protect her identity. If you look closely, however, you’ll also see an elbow of an anonymous person. It’s not a mistake.
In an interview for Today, Time Editor-in-Chief Edward Felsenthal discussed the woman whose face is obscured, noting that she’s symbolic of all those people who have yet to come forward and may be struggling to do so for fear of repercussions.
It is important for these people to understand that they’re not alone. “This is the fastest moving social change we’ve seen in decades and it began with individual acts of courage by hundreds of women – and some men, too – who came forward to tell their own stories,” Felsenthal told NBC News, calling them “the silence breakers.”
“These silence breakers have started a revolution of refusal, gathering strength by the day, and in the past two months alone,” TIME wrote. “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.”
Time’s 2017 Person of the Year cover features “The Silence Breakers”
And there’s a powerful hidden message that resonated with readers
The internet fell in love with the clever symbolism
In his interview with Today, Time editor in Chief Edward Felsenthal explained the idea
“Were we supposed to call some fantasy attorney general of moviedom?” – Ashley Judd, 49, actor
Judd says she was sexually harassed by Harvey Weinstein when she was 29 years old.
“We need to formalize the whisper network. It’s an ingenious way that we’ve tried to keep ourselves safe. All those voices can be amplified. That’s my advice to women. That and if something feels wrong, it is wrong—and it’s wrong by my definition and not necessarily someone else’s.”
Weinstein said in a statement he ‘never laid a glove’ on Judd.
“When Trump won the election, I felt a crushing sense of powerlessness. And then I realized that I had to do something.” – Susan Fowler, 26, former Uber engineer
Fowler’s February blog post about the harassment she experienced as an engineer at Uber went viral. Uber then launched an investigation that led to the ousting of its CEO Travis Kalanick and more than 20 other employees.
“When other women spoke out, they were retaliated against. So there were certain things that I thought I could avoid: ‘I’m not going to sue, because they’ll make me sign a nondisclosure agreement. I’m not going to do press right afterward, because they’ll say I’m doing it for attention. I can’t have any emotion in my blog. I have to be very, very detached.’ And I had to make sure that every single thing that I included in there had extensive physical documentation, so it couldn’t be ‘he said, she said.’ And that’s what I did.”
“When I testified, I had already had to watch this man’s attorney bully, badger and harass my team, including my mother… I was angry.” – Taylor Swift, 27, singer-songwriter
Radio DJ David Mueller groped Swift during a photo op in 2013. She reported him to his radio station, KYGO, and he was terminated. He said her accusations were false and sued Swift. She countersued for $1 and won.
“In that moment, I decided to forgo any courtroom formalities and just answer the questions the way it happened. This man hadn’t considered any formalities when he assaulted me … Why should I be polite?”
Mueller’s lawyer did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Adama Iwu, 40, lobbyist
Iwu organized an open letter signed by 147 women calling out harassment in California’s capital, which launched a state-senate investigation.
“Young women told me about the same men who harassed me years ago. And all I did was participate in the whisper network: ‘Here’s what you can wear,’ ‘Here’s where you can go,’ ‘Here’s who to avoid.’ But you have to address it head on and as a group. It’s hard to call 147 women liars. We can’t all be crazy. We can’t all be sluts.”
“It doesn’t matter if they criticize me. I can support other people who are going through the same thing.” – Isabel Pascual, 42, strawberry picker
“I stayed anonymous because I live in a very small community. And they just think usually that we’re lying and complainers.” – Anonymous, 22, former office assistant
After a co-worker allegedly began kissing and pressing himself on her, this young Native American woman says she felt trapped. Her office had no HR department. She didn’t feel her colleagues or family on her small, conservative reservation would believe her. So she quit her job.
“On the reservation, we keep to ourselves and don’t really put too much out there. I thought of all the other people that had no voice. They’re scared to do something like this because their parents say, ‘You’re not supposed to do that. You’re not supposed to speak up.’”