The announcement was made early this morning. After a list of 10 had been shared earlier this week, conjecture was rife as to who would earn TIME Magazine's cover for Person of the Year. That list included reprobates like Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un, agent provocateurs and imbeciles, both. Others were Colin Kaepernick who took a knee and raised the profile of injustice in this country. Robert Mueller, Jeff Bezos, and the Dreamers rounded out the list.
In the end, TIME unveiled its choice - not so much a person as a people, a movement, a societal tidal wave. It calls them The Silence Breakers.
On the cover can be seen recognizable faces like Taylor Swift, who took her molester to court and won; Ashley Judd, one of the many notables who came out against serial rapist/abuser Harvey Weinstein; and Uber engineer Susan Fowler, another who stood her ground against the sexual abuse she endured in the workplace, taking down Uber's CEO in the process.. But there are also faces that did not have the benefit of national headlines - there is strawberry field worker Isabel Pascual, and Adama Iwu, who is a corporate lobbyist.
And then there are the myriad faces that helped force this societal sea change, but no magazine cover could ever hope to squeeze in. You, me, him, her, them - all breaking the silence and telling our stories. Stories that range from sexual misconduct on a subway car to bosses forcing subordinates into sexual submission to horrific stories of rape and abuse at the hands of men or women who took what they wanted.
As the wave began to build, a hashtag gave it further life and strength - #MeToo began opening the eyes of many who simply did not know how pervasive the problem has been, to those whose initial stance was to blow off those telling their stories as attention getters.
The hashtag was one of activist Tarana Burke's longtime go tos, and was given further life and exposure when actress Alyssa Milano took to her Twitter account to begin spreading it around. From the famous to the who? - #MeToo swamped Twitter, simultaneously showing the world the enormity and emboldening more men and women to finally step out of the shadows of their shame, their fear, their pain, to add their voices.
Social anthropologists say they have not seen a societal shift of this magnitude since the 60s.
As someone who is part of that #MeToo tidal wave, it is long past time that sexual misconduct and abuse and those who inflict it are dragged into the harsh light of day and held accountable.
And accountability is this arena is harsh. But not anywhere near as harsh as the emotional trauma and psychic scarring their victims will never fully escape. Entertainment careers are being toppled - Weinstein, Ratner, Louis CK, Kevin Spacey, Russell Simmons, Lauer and on and on. Politicians are finding that they are not immune to repercussions for their bad behavior through the years - just yesterday Congressman John Conyers announced his immediate retirement in the wake of the sexual abuse allegations against him, and word is Al Franken will be resigning tomorrow.
Yes, there are still those who protest loudly against this movement - women who have been raised to believe they are less than men, and men who are threatened that their boorish behavior is now going to be called out and they, too, may find themselves in the unemployment line. They hurl words like liars, whores, opportunists, gold diggers. We see that daily as they refuse to acknowledge the women who have come forward against Trump; and even worse in Alabama as they still fully support Roy Moore, whose favorite stomping grounds used to be the mall where he would troll for underage girls. His youngest victim was only 14 when he tried to force himself on her in a car.
Yet he has support because Trump, the GOP, and far too many Alabamans are willing to look past pedophilia and serial sexual predation in favor of a Senate race win.
Sexual abuse is not a political football. It happens everywhere, everyday, regardless of political affiliation. And it needs to be treated as such. That the GOP is willing to back Moore simply for a win is telling of a party that is in its death throes, a gambling addict betting his last dollars on Red 13. Their brand will forever be associated with a pedophile.
This morning, if you are one of the many who will inevitably roll their eyes when you see the cover - I remind you - you know someone who could be on that cover. You may not be aware, but you know someone, probably MANY someones - your mom, grandma, sister, friend, coworker - who has been a victim.
I applaud every person who has stepped forward to force this behavioral, criminal day of reckoning. And I commend TIME magazine for helping us boldly go where no presumptive, power hungry, abusive man (or woman) will ever contemplate going again without fear of real consequences.
#MeToo, TIME, #MeToo
Watch the powerful video TIME has released along with the announcement.