Thankfully, Time's Person of the Year 2017 isn't an accused sexual predator. Instead, the publication announced Wednesday that the annual Person of the Year honor is being shared among "the silence breakers" at the forefront of the growing public movement against sexual assault and harassment.
The accompanying article opens with Ashley Judd, the first star to go on the record in an interview about Harvey Weinstein, recounting a 1997 meeting with the disgraced movie executive. "Literally, I exited that hotel room at the Peninsula Hotel in 1997 and came straight downstairs to the lobby, where my dad was waiting for me, because he happened to be in Los Angeles from Kentucky, visiting me on the set," Judd said. "And he could tell by my face—to use his words—that something devastating had happened to me. I told him. I told everyone."
At the time, Judd added, there was only a "whisper network" within the industry that allowed for women to occasionally warn each other. "Were we supposed to call some fantasy attorney general of moviedom?" she said. "There wasn't a place for us to report these experiences."
Other silence breakers highlighted in Time's must-read piece include actress/artist Rose McGowan, art curator Amanda Schmitt, lobbyist Adama Iwu, singer Taylor Swift, actor Terry Crews, former Uber engineer Susan Fowler, housekeeper Juana Melara, strawberry picker Isabel Pascual, and more. Some have chosen to remain anonymous, citing fears of their livelihood being threatened or being ostracized in their communities. "I thought, What just happened? Why didn't I react?" an anonymous hospital worker said. "I kept thinking, Did I do something, did I say something, did I look a certain way to make him think that was O.K.?"
In an essay published Wednesday, the magazine's editor-in-chief explained their decision to spotlight "one of the highest-velocity shifts in our culture since the 1960s" in the 2017 issue. "For giving voice to open secrets, for moving whisper networks onto social networks, for pushing us all to stop accepting the unacceptable, the Silence Breakers are the 2017 Person of the Year," Edward Felsenthal said.
See Time's full Person of the Year coverage here. Recent collective recipients of Time’s Person of the Year include “Ebola fighters” (2014), “the protestor” (2011), “the American soldier” (’03), and “the whistleblowers” (’02).