#MeToo: 'Silence Breakers' named Time's Person of the Year

The magazine recognizes the people who have spoken up against sexual assault and harassment using the #MeToo hashtag and other means.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
CNET freelancer Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
3 min read

Time's Person of the Year for 2017 isn't a person. The winner is basically everyone who has helped create a movement by publicly sharing their experiences with sexual assault and harassment. 

Time dubs them "The Silence Breakers."  

Edward Felsenthal, the magazine's editor-in-chief, revealed the selection Wednesday on NBC's "Today" show. 

The magazine cover is a composite group photo that includes -- in the image above -- actress Ashley Judd (back row, left), singer Taylor Swift (back right), strawberry picker Isabel Pascual (middle row, left), former Uber engineer Susan Fowler (middle right) and lobbyist Adama Iwu (front). Time said Pascual asked to use a pseudonym to protect her family.

One woman, described in the article as a young hospital worker from Texas, has just her arm showing on the cover. Felsenthal said  the woman "doesn't feel ... that she can come forward without threatening her livelihood."

The group was referred to as "The #MeToo Movement" on Time's shortlist of finalists, but the official name was changed when the decision was announced Wednesday.

"The hashtag #MeToo (swiftly adapted into #BalanceTonPorc, #YoTambien, #Ana_kaman and many others), which to date has provided an umbrella of solidarity for millions of people to come forward with their stories, is part of the picture, but not all of it," Time said in its article about the honor.

While actress Alyssa Milano is credited with helping the #MeToo hashtag spread on social media back in October, it has a longer history. Social activist Tarana Burke created the "Me too" slogan in 2007 for use with Just Be Inc., a nonprofit that helps victims of sexual harassment and assault. 

Time identifies the recipient of the annual honor as "the person or group of people who, for better or worse, wielded the most influence in the previous 12 months." 

President Donald Trump, last year's Person of the Year, was No. 2 on the magazine's list this year. "Trump's candidacy rewrote the rules of politics," the magazine wrote. "Now he has changed the rules of the presidency."

On Nov. 24, Trump tweeted that he'd been told by the magazine he was "probably" going to receive the honor again but said he declined.

Time later tweeted that the president was "incorrect about how we choose Person of the Year."

Chinese President Xi Jinping was named to the No. 3 spot on the list.

Others who made the magazine's shortlist included Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, "Wonder Woman" director Patty Jenkins, and quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

While most of the candidates were individuals, The Dreamers -- the hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants brought to the US by their parents when they were children -- also made the shortlist. The title hasn't always gone to a specific person, such as the "American Fighting-Man" in 1950, US scientists in 1960, American women in 1975 and the computer in 1982.

Many think of the recognition as positive, but it has been granted to murderous dictators as well, most notably Adolf Hitler in 1938. Other controversial choices include Joseph Stalin in 1939 and 1942, Nikita Khrushchev in 1957 and Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979.

This winner was chosen by Time's editors, but readers had their say, too. On Monday, the #MeToo movement, as it was phrased at the time, came in second in the Time reader poll with 6 percent of the vote, with Saudi Arabia's crown prince Mohammed bin Salman coming in first.

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