Time has bestowed its annual Person of the Year award for 2017 on the “Silence Breakers” behind the #MeToo movement.
The cover image, photographed by German team Billy & Hells, shows five women designed to be representative of the dozens of people interviewed for Time’s feature, as well as millions more who have come forward from all walks of life.
The most recognisable face is that of singer Taylor Swift, who was sued by a radio DJ whom she accused of groping her, accepting a nominal settlement of $ 1 when the court found in her favour.
Another familiar figure on the cover is Ashley Judd, one of the first women to publicly accuse producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment
The allegations against Weinstein were the catalyst for a culture-shifting conversation about the prevalence of sexual assault. In October, the #MeToo hashtag trended across the globe as other came forward with their own accounts of harassment and abuse.
“The women and men who have broken their silence span all races, all income classes, all occupations and virtually all corners of the globe,” says Time.
Isabel Pascual – not her real name – is one of the five women featured. An agricultural labourer originally from Mexico, she participated in a march organised in Los Angeles in the wake of the Weinstein allegations, where she described being harassed and stalked by a man who threatened her children.
The other women on the cover, corporate lobbyist Adama Iwu and Silicon Valley engineer Susan Fowler, both organised campaigns to expose sexual harassment in their respective industries, inspired by their own experiences and touched off by the Weinstein revelations.
“This isn’t about a couple of bad actors,” Iwu told CNN in October. “It’s about shifting the entire environment.”
In the lower-right corner of the cover, the arm and shoulder of a sixth woman can be seen. The woman in question, a hospital employee who feared for her livelihood if she was identifed, represents the untold legion of victims who are still unable to tell their story.
“The galvanising actions of the women on our cover… along with those of hundreds of others, and of many men as well, have unleashed one of the highest-velocity shifts in our culture since the 1960s,” Time editor Edward Felsenthal said in a statement.
On Twitter, users applauded Time’s choice:
— A.J. Johnson (@cablonde345) December 6, 2017
Silence in the face of injustice is deafening. The Silence Breakers made us hear again and truly deserve being named TIME Magazine's 2017 Person of the Year.
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) December 6, 2017
— Rose Garden (@GardenRose_) December 6, 2017
Actor Terry Crews, who came forward with his own experience of being groped by a Hollywood executive, said he was “honoured” to be among those interviewed for the story.
Honored to stand among these strong,brave individuals to fight for what%u2019s right… and take our lives back.
— terrycrews (@terrycrews) December 6, 2017
Some used the choice to take a jab at US President Donald Trump, who last month became embroiled in a Twitter spat with Time after claiming he had turned down the Person of the Year award – a claim the magazine denied.
Donald Trump made it into Time%u2019s Person of the Year issue after all: As one of the accused.
— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) December 6, 2017
Trump came second on the list, with Chinese President Xi Jinping in third place.