Time magazine says that its Person of the Year award goes to the person, group, idea or object that “for better or for worse … has done the most to influence the events of the year.”
With that as the standard, the magazine’s decision to bestow that title on “The Silence Breakers”—those people who have spoken out against sexual assault and harassment—is clearly the right one.
President Donald Trump has obviously had an oversized presence this year and has done much to influence events, but the #MeToo movement has ended careers, upended organizations, emboldened victims and changed attitudes and policies around the country.
The University of Rochester received a mention in Time’s profile for the complaints against a professor that have embroiled the campus this year.
Until this year, the frequent reaction to a woman’s claim of sexual harassment or assault—absent ironclad evidence—was disbelief. That is changing, and the more women are believed, the more women will come forward to tell stories they were reluctant to tell previously.
The list of prominent men who have lost jobs because of allegations of sexual misconduct in recent months is staggering. Some people have expressed apprehension at the idea that a man’s career could end because of the words of one woman. However, the fact that a woman’s career could have been ended because of the words of one man is why most of these women didn’t come forward years ago.
It is good to see tolerance for this sort of behavior disappearing in our society. Companies should have no patience for the Matt Lauers and Harvey Weinsteins of the world. Politicians such as John Conyers and Al Franken should have no seat at the table.
The fact that Trump was elected president and Roy Moore stands a good chance of being elected to the U.S. Senate shows there is work to be done. But “The Silence Breakers” have made their mark, and it is long overdue.