NEW YORK – Time magazine selected on Wednesday as its “Person of the Year” a large group of women – and some men – who have gone public with the sexual abuse and harassment they have suffered.
The publication noted that the “Silence Breakers” in Hollywood and other areas of United States society had captured the public’s attention this year and touched off a #MeToo movement that encourages victims of sexual harassment and assault worldwide to share their experiences using that Twitter hashtag.
The cover of the Person of the Year edition of the magazine features actress Ashley Judd and pop star Taylor Swift but also Mexican agricultural worker Isabel Pascual.
A big catalyst for the “Me Too” movement was a New York Times article in October in which the paper reported that Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein had paid off sexual harassment accusers for decades.
The story kicked off with allegations by Judd, who said that two decades ago Weinstein had her sent up to his Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel room for what she thought was a breakfast meeting.
Once inside his room, the producer – dressed only in a robe – asked her if she wanted him to give her a massage and suggested that she watch him while he had a shower.
More accusations were subsequently leveled against Weinstein, including a report in the New Yorker in which actresses accused the Academy Award-winning producer of “forcibly performing or receiving oral sex and forcing vaginal sex.”
The producer, who was fired by The Weinstein Company’s board over the sexual harassment complaints, has consistently denied any allegations of non-consensual sex.
The Weinstein scandal touched off a wave of sexual harassment accusations against other figures in Hollywood, as well as major media figures such as NBC television network star host Matt Lauer, who was fired after multiple women came forward.
The editor-in-chief of the magazine, Edward Felsenthal, hailed the societal significance of the wave of allegations.
“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, who came forward to tell their own stories of sexual harassment and assault,” Felsenthal said.
He also provided information about one individual on the Person of the Year cover whose face is not visible.
“The image you see partially on the cover is of a woman we talked to, a hospital worker in the middle of the country who shared her story with us and some others but doesn’t feel like she can come forward without threatening her livelihood.”
Other candidates for Time’s 2017 Person of the Year were the president of the United States, Donald Trump, who won the honor in 2016; Chinese President Xi Jinping; and the supreme leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un.