From a shortlist that included Amazon.com Inc. CEO Jeff Bezos, Internet-muzzling Chinese leader Xi Jinping, and last year’s winner, noted Twitter user Donald Trump, a movement defined by a hashtag has emerged as Time Magazine’s 2017 Person of the Year.
Dubbed “the silence breakers” in Time’s accompanying feature and the #MeToo movement on its shortlist, the magazine’s latest honouree recognizes the women and men who, in increasing numbers and with greater success since a pair of October features in The New York Times and New Yorker laid bare the serial predatory behaviour of iconic film producer Harvey Weinstein, have been stepping forward and sharing their stories of being victims of harassment.
While originally started by African American activist Tarana Burke (whose Time portrait was chosen as this article’s header image) 10 years ago, the current #MeToo movement has been credited to actress Alyssa Milano, who tweeted on Oct. 15 – 10 days after the New York Times article ran – that if every woman who had been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote “Me too” as their status, it might give others a sense of the problem’s magnitude.
If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet. pic.twitter.com/k2oeCiUf9n
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) October 15, 2017
An animated map released by research firm Sperling’s Best Places illustrates how quickly Milano’s message spread across the world 12 hours after it was posted.
To this only 12 hours later:
An accompanying chart also illustrated the growth:
Since the Weinstein exposés, which resulted in his ouster from the film production company he co-founded, numerous other men in the entertainment and media world have faced similar consequences for their actions, including actor Kevin Spacey, comedian Louis C.K., director Brett Ratner, former NPR editor Michael Oreskes, former New Republic editor Leon Wieseltier, former Today show host Matt Lauer, and former PBS and CBS journalist Charlie Rose.
The tech world, of course, has faced its own allegations of harassment for years, with 2017 highlights including former Uber engineer Susan Fowler’s viral blog post from February that ultimately contributed to the resignation of former CEO and founder Travis Kalanick in June, and a controversial “manifesto” by former Google engineer James Damore that argued women were less biologically suited to working in the tech industry than men, and which led to Damore being fired after it went viral in August.