Yesterday, TIME announced their “Person of the Year,” which it turns out is actually the “People of the Year.” Choosing the “Silence Breakers,” as TIME calls them, was the right choice. Choosing to have an all female team write, photograph, and handle pretty much every aspect of the cover story was also wisely done. That being said, their choice does draw attention to another issue.
As we celebrate this group of brave women, it’s hard not to look at the history of women as TIME’s “Person of the Year.” The magazine has been awarding the title since 1927, and in that time only four women have held the title as individuals. That number slightly improves when you include groups of women or groups that include at least one woman, but it’s still woefully low (less than 10).
TIME is not alone in this gender disparity, and my point is not to villainize them for it, but to re-emphasize the role that power plays in the ongoing #MeToo narrative.
The imbalance of power that led to the “Silence Breakers,” is not a new issue. Women have been dealing with inequality, and picking their battles, since time immemorial. This is a problem that goes back generations, upon generations. It’s ingrained into our culture, which is why it’s taken so long for women to be heard. Women did not wake up after the 2016 election and collectively decide that this was the last straw. This was not one tipping point, but the culmination of thousands.
Even now, power still comes into play. By naming the “Silence Breakers,” as the “People of the Year,” TIME has given these women back some of their power. Their spotlight is a little brighter, their voices a little louder. Where the movement goes from here though depends on more than a moment of attention from one magazine.
It may seem like the wind is at the backs of this movement, but the truth is we’ve been here before. Any woman who has ever questioned the powers that be can tell you it’s best not to get your hopes up.
That being said, as we come to the end of 2017 and look ahead to 2018, I am hopeful. Will the new year solve all the old year’s problems — certainly not. But 2017 saw a shakeup. Much like 2016, there was a lot of uncertainty, a lot of questioning of authority, but there was also a sense of community. People came together. People said, “enough is enough.” People spoke out. Most importantly, people started to listen.
More on the Story: TIME
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