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TIME Person Of The Year is a prestigious cover story that often features famous faces who have made recurring appearances. In 2016, the person was Donald Trump for better or for worse, he had been making headlines and he still is. And though the story faced backlash, this year TIME has done something unforgettable, the Person Of The Year - The Silence Breakers, the voices that launched a movement.
2017 began on a rather dark note, with negative global political influences raging with sexist comments. But on October 15th, a movement that changed a billion lives began, #MeToo. Alyssa Milan and Tarana Burke began something soul churning with just a tweet, “If you've been sexually harassed or assaulted write 'me too' as a reply to this tweet," and woke up to over 30,000 responses.
TIME decided to serve them a badge of honour, for speaking out against the rich, powerful, sadistic and most definitely unapologetic men who made them feel unworthy. From a sexist boss, to a rapist producer, to that harassing coworker who doesn’t take no for an answer. This cover is for all those voices who refused to become background noise. But there also two men, Blaise Godbe Lipman and Terry Crews who voiced out loud their sexual assaults.
There were stories that stood out, that weren’t a part of #MeToo but fought the same fight. The cover saw actress Ashley Judd, former Uber software engineer Susan Fowler, California lobbyist Adama Iwu, strawberry picker Isabel Pascual and singer Taylor Swift.
While Ashley Judd spoke up about Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment, Susan Fowler began bringing a change in how Silicon Valley and Uber treated sexual assault forcing the CEO of Uber, Travis Kalanick to resign. Adama Iwu is a lobbyist and activist who organized a collaborative effort of 147 women to expose sexual harassment in the California government. Isabel Pascual, on the other hand, is a strawberry picker, originally from Mexico, she spoke to the magazine under a pseudonym to protect the identity of her family because her harasser often stalked her and threatened to hurt them.
The last name on the cover is Taylor Swift, the singer began the year on a rocky start due to several controversies. But a few months ago, she testified in court against DJ David Mueller who reached beneath her skirt and groped her before a concert in 2013. And when the DJ sued Taylor for causing him to lose his job, she countersued with a symbolic representative $1 settlement. In court, when his lawyers tried to make the singer feel guilty about her charges she had a fitting response, "I'm not going to let you or your client make me feel in any way that this is my fault," Swift said, according to Time. "I'm being blamed for the unfortunate events of his life that are a product of his decisions. Not mine."
And this is why seeing my teenage idol on the cover of TIME made my eyes well up in tears. To watch her struggle, win and influence has been an astounding journey. As women, we’ve been conditioned to stay quiet, feminine and delicate as a gender, often pushed into unattainable stereotypes. Seeing strong women on the cover of a magazine that once featured a fallen sexist politician, makes my heart flutter. Though the sadness that dwells in the deepest corners of me cannot be healed, the process has begun. The words these women shared have knitted into the fibres of my being, a sense of purpose. Read the complete cover story on the Silence Breakers by TIME here.