It has created a wave of awareness and brave confrontations over sexual harassment and assault, taking down powerful men in the process. And now the #MeToo movement has been named Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 2017.
On its cover, Time called the people behind the movement “The Silence Breakers.” Its story features women and men who have spoken out — including activist Tarana Burke, who started the hashtag 10 years ago.
#MeToo rose to prominence as a social media campaign in the wake of high-profile accusations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. After actress Alyssa Milano popularized the hashtag, thousands of women began sharing their stories about the pervasive damage wrought by sexual harassment and by “open secrets” about abuse.
The movement’s empowering reach could be seen in the platform on which Time announced its choice: the Today show. It was just one week ago that NBC fired the morning program’s longtime and powerful co-host, Matt Lauer, over a detailed complaint of “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.”
While the most high-profile #MeToo stories have come from women and men who work in the movies and media, the Time article also features women who work hourly jobs, some of whom want to remain anonymous. The magazine’s cover portrait includes strawberry picker Isabel Pascual, lobbyist Adama Iwu and former Uber engineer Susan Fowler along with Ashley Judd and Taylor Swift.
“The reckoning appears to have sprung up overnight. But it has actually been simmering for years, decades, centuries,” Time’s Stephanie Zacharek, Eliana Dockterman and Haley Sweetland Edwards write. “Women have had it with bosses and coworkers who not only cross boundaries but don’t even seem to know that boundaries exist.”
Marking a possible cultural shift back in October, NPR’s Sarah McCammon quoted associate professor Lisa Huebner saying of #MeToo, “It helps a lot of people individually, I think, and it also will help us to mark publicly that this is a widespread occurrence, and it’s not OK.”
The shortlist of candidates for the distinction included:
- The Dreamers
- Amazon founder Jeff Bezos
- Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins
- North Korean leader Kim Jong Un
- Protest leader Colin Kaepernick
- Special counsel Robert Mueller
- Chinese President Xi Jinping
- Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia
- President Trump
Time also conducted a reader poll, which the magazine says was won by Mohammed bin Salman, with 24 percent of the votes. Second place went to the #MeToo movement, followed by a three-way tie among Kaepernick, Mueller and the Dreamers.
In the magazine’s tally, Trump was the runner-up.
The final decision comes weeks after Trump — who was named Person of the Year in 2016 — said he “took a pass” on being named again in 2017. Trump, who had called it “a tremendous honor” to win last year, said the magazine had been in touch to say he would “probably” win.
The president’s comment prompted Time to clarify, “The President is incorrect about how we choose Person of the Year. TIME does not comment on our choice until publication, which is December 6.”