Silence breakers who bravely spoke out their stories of sexual harassment in workplace have been honored as 2017 Persons of the Year by Time Magazine.
The decision to grant people who have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct with the accolade was announced on NBC's Today show on Wednesday morning.
The award is decided by Time’s editors and goes to the person or group who has had the most influence on the year's news for better or worse.
"This is the fastest moving social change we have seen in decades," Time editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal told the programme.
"It began with individual acts of courage by hundreds of women - and some men, too - who came forward to tell their own stories".
The honor recognizes the on-going #MeToo movement that started in earnest with the sexual misconduct allegations against Hollywood mega-producer Harvey Weinstein, which came to light in October. More than 50 women have publicly accused Weinstein - who produced Oscar-winning films Shakespeare in Love, The English Patient, and The Artist - of sexual harassment, assault, rape, and inappropriate behaviour that spans four decades.
But story also features other women—ex-Uber engineer Susan Fowler, for one—who came forward even before then to publicly call out how they’d been mistreated at work.
“[T]his moment is borne of a very real and potent sense of unrest,” Time reports. “Yet it doesn’t have a leader, or a single, unifying tenet.”
The 2017 Person of the Year was highly anticipated, due in part to President Donald Trump’s tweet in November stating he’d passed on an interview and photo shoot with Time because the magazine said he was only “probably” going to be Person of the Year. Time responded that the president was “incorrect about how we choose Person of the Year.”
That Trump could say that and still be elected to the White House “is part of what stoked the rage that fueled the Women’s March” the day after his inauguration, Time wrote. The magazine mentions by name some of the women who have irked Trump in the past: NBC anchor Megyn Kelly, who asked Trump about his past treatment of women during a Republican presidential debate, and his former Democratic rival Hillary Clinton:
Megyn Kelly, the NBC anchor who revealed in October that she had complained to Fox News executives about Bill O'Reilly's treatment of women, and who was a target of Trump's ire during the campaign, says the tape as well as the tenor of the election turned the political into the personal. "I have real doubts about whether we'd be going through this if Hillary Clinton had won, because I think that President Trump's election in many ways was a setback for women," says Kelly, who noted that not all women at the march were Clinton supporters. "But the overall message to us was that we don't really matter."
So it was not entirely surprising that 2017 began with women donning "pussy hats" and marching on the nation's capital in a show of unity and fury. What was startling was the size of the protest. It was one of the largest in U.S. history and spawned satellite marches in all 50 states and more than 50 other countries.
The “better or worse” proviso allows for deeply unpopular people to be granted the award if they have exerted a great deal of influence on the news agenda. Adolf Hitler infamously won the award in 1938, as did Josef Stalin in 1939 and 1942. In 2015, the leader of Isis, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, was placed second.
Disgraced Hollywood film producer Weinstein, who was expelled from the Oscars and sacked from his namesake company, denies all allegations of non-consensual sexual acts.