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Earlier this week TIME magazine announced that their much lauded Person of the Year accolade was to be given to ‘The Silence Breakers’; the group of women behind several empowering movements for women – including #MeToo.
The faces of five women who have spoken out about their experiences of sexual harassment – including singer Taylor Swift and actress Ashley Judd – feature on the magazine’s 2017 Person of the Year cover.
If you’d looked quickly at the cover, you might not have spotted it at first, but there was a mystery appearance from the arm of an anonymous woman, representing a sixth member of the photoshoot.
It wasn’t an editorial error or a bad crop – the arm was featured intentionally.
TIME has now explained that the arm belongs to a hospital worker, who wishes to remain anonymous, and was chosen to represent the unheard voices.
“It belongs to an anonymous young hospital worker from Texas,” the magazine explained in an article.
She is a sexual harassment victim, who “fears that disclosing her identity would negatively impact her family”.
“She is faceless on the cover and remains nameless inside Time’s red borders, but her appearance is an act of solidarity, representing all those who are not yet able to come forward and reveal their identities,” the feature continues.
There’s a woman you don’t see on TIME’s Person of the Year cover. This is her story https://t.co/MVhnV0WhtM
— TIME (@TIME) December 7, 2017
The woman, who made a sexual harassment complaint anonymously, told TIME that she couldn’t stop wondering whether she could have prevented the encounter.
“I thought, What just happened? Why didn’t I react? I kept thinking, Did I do something, did I say something, did I look a certain way to make him think that was O.K.?” she told the publication.
As well as Swift and Judd, the anonymous sixth woman was chosen alongside former Uber engineer Susan Fowler, who wrote a blog post in February about all the ridiculous sexism and harassment she encountered during her time at Uber, lobbyist Adama Iwu, who started the We Said Enough movement to call out the “pervasive culture of sexual harassment and mistreatment” in Californian politics, and Isabel Pascual, who is a strawberry picker and an immigrant from Mexico whose name was changed to protect her identity.
Isabel defied threats of violence from her boss and took part in a farmworkers march against sexual harrassment endured by labourers.
Adama Iwu organized an open letter signed by 147 women calling out harassment in California’s capital, which launched a state-senate investigation. “Young women told me about the same men who harassed me years ago. And all I did was participate in the whisper network: ‘Here’s what you can wear,’ ‘Here’s where you can go,’ ‘Here’s who to avoid.’ But you have to address it head on and as a group. It’s hard to call 147 women liars. We can’t all be crazy. We can’t all be sluts.” Iwu is among the Silence Breakers, TIME's Person of the Year. Read the full story on TIME.com. Photograph by Billy & Hells for TIME. #TIMEPOY
A post shared by TIME (@time) on Dec 6, 2017 at 6:11pm PST
Meanwhile Ashley Judd was among the first actresses to break the silence surrounding Harvey Weinstein’s behaviour around women, while Taylor Swift, won a civil case against an ex-DJ who groped her.
Ashley Judd says she was sexually harassed by Harvey Weinstein when she was 29 years old. "We need to formalize the whisper network. It’s an ingenious way that we’ve tried to keep ourselves safe. All those voices can be amplified. That’s my advice to women. That and if something feels wrong, it is wrong—and it’s wrong by my definition and not necessarily someone else’s." (Weinstein said in a statement he “never laid a glove” on Judd.) @ashley_judd is among the Silence Breakers, TIME's Person of the Year. Read the full story on TIME.com. Photograph by Billy & Hells for TIME. #TIMEPOY
A post shared by TIME (@time) on Dec 6, 2017 at 6:05am PST
Every year since 1927, TIME editors name a Person of the Year, recognising the person or group of people who most influenced the news during the past year, for better or for worse. And it would be difficult to think of a more deserving group of women this year.
Radio DJ David Mueller groped Taylor Swift during a photo op in 2013. She reported him to his radio station, KYGO, and he was terminated. He said her accusations were false and sued Swift. She countersued for $1 and won. "When I testified, I had already had to watch this man’s attorney bully, badger and harass my team, including my mother … I was angry. In that moment, I decided to forgo any courtroom formalities and just answer the questions the way it happened. This man hadn’t considered any formalities when he assaulted me … Why should I be polite? I’m told it was the most amount of times the word ass has ever been said in Colorado federal court." (Mueller’s lawyer did not respond to multiple requests for comment.) @taylorswift is among the Silence Breakers, TIME's Person of the Year. Read the full story on TIME.com. Photograph by Billy & Hells for TIME. #TIMEPOY
A post shared by TIME (@time) on Dec 6, 2017 at 7:24am PST
Speaking about this year’s choice Edward Felsenthal, the magazine’s editor-in-chief said: “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 stories of sexual harassment and assault.”
The appearance of the anonymous woman’s arm in the cover serves as a poignant reminder that while so many people now feel able to speak up about their experiences of sexual harassment, there are still those who feel they have to remain silent. So though, we have definitely made progress this year thanks to movements like #MeToo, as TIME have reminded us, there is still a way to go.
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