TIME has selected its coveted 2017 Person of the Year, and this year it’s a whole group of extraordinarily brave people: “The Silence Breakers.”
While some had expected President Donald Trump to grace the cover of the annual TIME issue, the editors instead chose to honour the women and men who have spoken out about their experiences and stood up against sexual harassment and assault.
Calling them “The voices that launched a movement,” TIME’s cover story highlights the stories of a number of silence breakers, including Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Alyssa Milano, Terry Crews and many more actors, media personalities, activists, politicians, entrepreneurs, labourers and even those anonymous people who have chosen not to reveal their identities.
Among the people highlighted is Taylor Swift, who, in August, before the Weinstein allegations came out, testified in court against a Colorado radio DJ who groped her while taking a photo.
“I’m not going to let you or your client make me feel in any way that this is my fault,” Swift said while testifying. “Here we are years later, and I’m being blamed for the unfortunate events of his life that are the product of his decisions—not mine.”
In an interview with TIME, Swift explained why she felt it was so important for her to take a stand.
“I figured that if he would be brazen enough to assault me under these risky circumstances and high stakes, imagine what he might do to a vulnerable, young artist if given the chance,” she said.
As for her frankness in court, Swift said it was simply what felt right.
“This man hadn’t considered any formalities when he assaulted me, and his lawyer didn’t hold back on my mom—why should I be polite?” she said. “I’m told it was the most amount of times the word ‘ass’ has ever been said in Colorado Federal Court.”
“I think that this moment is important for awareness, for how parents are talking to their children, and how victims are processing their trauma, whether it be new or old,” Swift added. “The brave women and men who have come forward this year have all moved the needle in terms of letting people know that this abuse of power shouldn’t be tolerated.”
Wednesday morning on “Today”, hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb sat down with two of the women in the Person of the Year issue, #MeToo creator and activist Tarana Burke and Milano, who helped the hashtag movement go viral online.
Though Milano said the two “text twenty times a day,” they had never met in person until right before the interview.
Burke discussed first starting the Me Too movement in 2006, and where things stand today. “I could never imagine this,” she said. “I could never have envisioned something that would change the world. I was trying to change my community.”
Milano also shared what motivated her own decision to speak out. “I was in bed with my daughter and she was sleeping next to me, and my children are the great impetus for everything that I do in life,” she said. “But also my friend Rose McGowan had been very hurt and silenced for a long time, and she was fighting back and I wanted to support her in what she was going through, and in turn support women everywhere.”