Every year, it’s a tradition. December is the time when TIME magazine comes out with its “Person of the year” on the cover page. This year, it’s not a person but many of them under the title of “Silence Breakers”. These are the brave women who gathered the courage to finally speak up against the sexual harassment that they went through. These are the women who fueled the #MeToo movement and the cover is a bold statement, representing all those who cannot speak out.
The cover features actress Ashley Judd, one of the first prominent Harvey Weinstein accusers; Susan Fowler, the former Uber engineer credited with exposing the company’s widespread sexism; Adama Iwu, a lobbyist for Visa and organizer of the We Said Enough campaign; singer Taylor Swift, who sued former radio host David Mueller for sexual assault; and Isabel Pascual, “a woman from Mexico who works picking strawberries and asked to use a pseudonym to protect her family.
And on the right hand corner of the cover, there is a picture of a woman’s arm and elbow. Many have expressed regret that TIME cropped out this woman. But this was not cropped out or an error; it was a deliberate artistic choice.
Its owner is meant to represent the millions of women (and all people) who suffer sexual harassment and assault in silence—the people who cannot publicly come forward, for fear of violence, loss of employment, familial rejection, or any other reason. This obscured woman represents women who anonymously—yet forcefully—shared their stories of sexual harassment in the past year.
Now that’s a very powerful message to send across the world, to the millions of victims. Hope more gather courage and speak up and confront these predators.
This tradition of TIME is 88 years old – they began in 1927 and at that time, it was titled as “Man of the year”. The first title was held by aviator Charles Lindbergh – he was the first person ever to fly a plane solo non-stop across the Atlantic, from New York to Paris. Mahatama Gandhi held this honour in 1930
TIME has also put on its cover some very controversial faces – Adolf Hitler in 1938, Joseph Stalin in 1939 and 1942, Nikita Khrushchev in 1857 and Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 for which it drew maximum ire. After that, it stays away from such controversial figures, which explains why 2011 did not have Osama Bin Laden but New York Mayor, Giulliani. In 1982, there was no Person of the Year; it was Machine of the Year and that was the Computer. And way back in 1998, The Endangered Earth was the Planet of the Year.
And no, the coveted title is not decided by a poll; it is decided by the editors. Do you remember who it was last year? It was Donald Trump. Needless to say, he continues to dominate all news.