We’re often told it takes a village to raise a child, well, it seems to me that the same premise applies when we talk about prompting deep cultural change. No one person is capable of triggering this alone.
That’s why the women (and men) behind the now famous #MeToo social movement, have been deservingly named Time Magazine’s people of the year.
Referring to them as ‘the silence breakers’, Time’s editor-in-chief, Edward Felsenthal said the movement had triggered global recognition of a pervasive (but too-often dismissed) issue.
“This is the fastest-moving social change we’ve seen in decades, and it began with individual acts of courage by hundreds of women — and some men, too — who came forward to tell their own stories,” he said.
Indeed, no one could have predicted the magnitude of the response when actor Alyssa Milano tweeted a simple call to action in mid-October.
“If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet,” she implored.
Within 48 hours the hashtag had been tweeted millions of times–predominantly by women–sharing personal stories of sexual harassment and assault. The flood of experiences ranging from creepy and cringeworthy to deeply harrowing.
Each story shaping a new collective resolve of defiance and defence.
“As women, we have to support each other and stand together and say, ‘That’s it. We’re done. No more,'” Milano said. “It’s vital to me that we really set in some actionable things that we can do to continue this momentum.”
The magazine’s powerful cover features celebrities Ashley Judd– the first woman to point the finger at alleged predator and film mogul, Harvey Weinstein as well as Taylor Swift who filed a lawsuit (and won) against DJ David Mueller who groped her backstage at one of her concerts in June 2013.
Other women who have lodged allegations of sexual misconduct this year, including Uber engineer Susan Fowler, lobbyist Adama Iwu and Isabel Pascual, a strawberry picker from Mexico who had her name changed to protect her identity were also featured.
A sixth person was photographed for the cover despite only her arm being visible in the bottom right corner. The woman, an anonymous hospital worker from Texas, was the victim of long-term sexual harassment. She fears disclosing her identity would negatively impact her family and friends.
Her fears highlighting the degree of courage it takes for women to stand up and take action.
Indeed, these women symbolise a new awakening. The movement they created reverberates the world-over, encouraging more and more victims of sexual predation to come forward and to speak. And with each new story, bricks of a dark, and deeply entrenched culture are coming loose and crashing to the ground.