TIME’s 2017 Person of the Year has been announced, and it is once again not an individual but a loud and growing group.
Called “The Silence Breakers”, TIME’s choice gives an even greater voice to the women (and some men) who broke the silence of America’s culture of sexual harassment.
As TIME writes, “nearly every day, CEOs have been fired, moguls toppled, icons disgraced. In some cases, criminal charges have been brought” against powerful men who used their positions to force themselves upon women. The past year has been a revolution as women speak up about their experiences, amplified by the bullhorn of social media and toppling the old guard of male chauvinists.
TIME may begin with the likes of Ashley Judd and Rose McGowan, whose willingness to go on the record led to the New York Times publishing their expose which brought down Harvey Weinstein, but also speaks to women from more humble origins. Hotel staff, office workers, and even a Mexican strawberry picker were all interviewed for Person of the Year, sharing experiences as deeply disturbing as those of famous movie stars.
One of the first stories of 2017 was that of Susan Fowler, the ex Uber engineer who blew the whistle on the company’s culture of sexual harassment. Fowler’s bravery in writing a blog post calling out Uber execs and fellow engineers launched a company-wide investigation headed by two law firms which indeed found the workplace culture to be deeply toxic. When the dust finally settled 20 employees were fired and two executives resigned—including Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.
In New York, the Plaza Hotel became a battleground as seven current and former employees sued hotel management for “normalizing and trivializing sexual assault” among employees. Even worse than Uber, the corporate environment not only allowed such behavior but seemed to actively encourage it as part of their services. Their case is still pending trial.
But it was easily the upheaval of Hollywood’s elite that stole the show of 2017. After the New York Times published their piece accusing the film producer of sexually assaulting women for decades, nearly every woman in Hollywood came forward to share their story. Famous actresses like Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashley Judd, and Angelina Jolie all used the hashtag #MeToo in solidarity against Weinstein, whose career has been left in utter ruin following the allegations.
With only a few weeks left, 2017 is sure to see more powerful men brought low by the #MeToo movement.
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