“The Silence Breakers” — TIME’s 2017 Person of the Year

Noor Majid, Staff Writer

When Taylor Swift countersued DJ David Mueller in her — now infamous — sexual assault case for a grand total of $1, she made a statement for the history books. Her testimony alone was one to remember, with hard-hitting lines including “I’m being blamed for the unfortunate events of his life that are a product of his decisions. Not mine.”

Photo: TIME
“The Silence Breakers” — From left to right, Isabel Pascual, Adama Iwu, Ashley Judd, Susan Fowler, Taylor Swift, and an unpictured sixth woman.

Now, in her next great move, she is pictured on this year’s cover of TIME’s Person of the Year issue, along with actress Ashley Judd, former Uber employee Susan Fowler, a strawberry picker from Mexico going by the pseudonym Isabel Pascual, corporate lobbyist Adama Iwu, and the arm of a symbolically unpictured woman — who TIME has said represents “all those who are not yet able to come forward and reveal their identities.” Swift, these women, and countless others have been named the “The Silence Breakers,” or those who actively called out sexual assaulters in 2017.

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

Once-Hollywood-mogul Harvey Weinstein met his downfall earlier this year, as numerous women (now over 80) stepped forward with claims of sexual assault and rape. His fall from grace sparked a greater number of accusations made by women toward influential public figures, including former House of Cards actor Kevin Spacey, former CBS News anchor Charlie Rose, and former US President George W. Bush.

“Women have had it with bosses and coworkers who not only cross boundaries but don’t even seem to know that boundaries exist. 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,” said TIME.

In 2006, after hearing the heart-wrenching story of a thirteen-year-old girl who was sexually assaulted, activist Tarana Burke created Just Be Inc., a nonprofit organization that helps victims of sexual harassment or assault. She entitled this campaign “Me Too.”

More than a decade later, in 2017, actress Alyssa Milano prompted the statement as a hashtag on Twitter. A photo included within her tweet reads, “Me too. Suggested by a friend: ‘If all the women who have been sexually [assaulted] wrote “Me too.” as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.’”

Within the first night, the hashtag was used by more 30,000 people. “Milano burst into tears,” wrote Time.

Photo: Lucy Nicholson
Tarana Burke (middle) marching with others in Los Angeles in November.

2017 has experienced a growing discussion and unacceptance for sexual assault and abuse of power among individuals — women are no longer standing back and letting abusers continue to do what they please while victims suffer.

With the Silence Breakers and the #MeToo movement, both of which grow each day, those who have previously felt repressed and fearful to come forward can finally find a voice.

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