Leadership

How the #MeToo movement beat out Bezos, Kaepernick and Trump to become Time's Person of the Year

Time Magazine announced Wednesday that the "Silence Breakers" of the #MeToo movement have been named its 2017 Person of the Year, beating out such titans of industry as Jeff Bezos and such prominent political figures as President Donald Trump, last year's Person of the Year and this year's runner-up.

Among the mostly female "Silence Breakers" are well-known artists and activists including Taylor Swift, Ashley Judd and Turana Burke, as well as lesser known, and even some anonymous, white-, pink- and blue-collar workers.

"When Trump won the election, I felt a crushing sense of powerlessness. And then I realized that I had to do something," former Uber engineer Susan Fowler —whose blog post sparked changes inside Uber that led to CEO Travis Kalanick's resignation — told Time.

During election years over the past decade, the president-elect has always scored the annual Time distinction. Last year, when Trump was named Time's Person of the Year, or "man of the year," as he has said the honor should be known, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was the runner-up.

Given the ire directed at Trump by women featured as 2017's Person of the Year and the ongoing contention between the president and Clinton, this means that in both 2016 and 2017, the winner and the runner-up could be seen as adversaries, a situation that seems unparalleled in Time magazine history.

The December 18 cover story honors those who came forward with their stories of sexual harassment and spotlights over 30 victims — a majority of them women — who have spoken out against, and in some cases toppled, leaders across numerous industries, including Harvey Weinstein, Bill O'Reilly, Travis Kalanick and Bill Cosby.

A team of women executed the Person of the Year profile from start to finish, as Time national correspondent Charlotte Alter points out on Twitter.

On November 24, in advance of Time's annual announcement, Trump brought attention to the contest by suggesting on Twitter that he had turned down the honor.

Hours later, Time responded by noting that the president was incorrect about how the Person of the Year gets selected. In Trump's runner-up profile story, Time also states the following:

TIME had sought and tentatively secured the President's participation in an interview and photoshoot for this article. On Nov. 24, the day after Thanksgiving, he abruptly pulled out.

Trump's tweet was not accurate: TIME made no assurances and placed no conditions on the outcome of our editorial decision making.

Nevertheless, as Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America, notes on Twitter, the stories of the "Silence Breakers" may not have received the recognition they have had it not been for Trump.

Time seems to concur. "That Donald Trump could express himself that way and still be elected President is part of what stoked the rage that fueled the Women's March the day after his Inauguration," the profile states, referring to the "Access Hollywood" tape that surfaced in October 2016 featuring Trump's lewd remarks about women.

The Time writers add that Trump's actions are also "why women seized on that crude word as the emblem of the protest that dwarfed Trump's Inauguration crowd size," inspiring, for example, the pink knit pussy hats.

The other eight candidates Time editors had considered for this year's list include:

  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world
  • The Dreamers, the thousands of undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. by their parents when they were children and whose future as Americans could be jeopardized if the Trump Administration eliminates the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program
  • Patty Jenkins who, with "Wonder Woman," became the first woman to direct a film that made more than $100 million in its opening weekend
  • North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un
  • Freeagent football player and activist Colin Kaepernick, who started a nationwide conversation and inspired unprecedented public activism among NFL and other athletes
  • Special counsel Robert Mueller
  • Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
  • China's president Xi Jinping

Since 1927, Time Magazine says it "has annually selected what is now known as the Person of the Year — the man, woman, group or concept that had the most influence on the world during the previous 12 months."

Although the magazine's editors ultimately pick the Person of the Year, they also ask online readers to vote for who they think had the biggest influence over the news. Bin Salman won the reader poll with 24 percent of the votes, followed by the #MeToo movement (6 percent), The Dreamers (5 percent) and Kaepernick (5 percent). Trump received 2 percent of the votes.

As the #MeToo movement continues to grow, more individuals are speaking out against sexual harassment not only at work but in their personal lives as well.

"We're still at the bomb-throwing point of this revolution, a reactive stage at which nuance can go into hiding," Time writes. "Norms evolve, and it's long past time for any culture to view harassment as acceptable. But there's a great deal at stake in how we assess these new boundaries — for women and men together. "

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