TIME Magazine announced last week that its 2017 Person of the Year was “The Silence Breakers,” beating out runners-up Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, Robert Mueller, Kim Jong Un, Colin Kaepernick and Patty Jenkins. “The Silence Breakers” are women who have “summoned extraordinary personal courage to speak out about sexual harassment at their jobs.”
No political party, industry, or ideological group is immune to problems of sexual harassment. Even with the significant advances made in civil rights and equal opportunities for women in the past half century, being a woman is still a disadvantage in many workplaces and situations where outright harassment or discrimination is excused or ignored. Across many industries and income levels, women remain afraid to report instances of abuse, harassment, or discrimination, for fear of losing their jobs or hindering their hard-won career advancement opportunities.
We live in a unique historical moment when brave women are coming forward with stories of sexual harassment they have experienced. Their courage emboldens other women to share their stories, and public sentiment is rapidly turning against the men who have harassed these women, in many cases for decades, without repercussions. This is an epochal – and overdue – cultural correction and change in thinking. It is tragic that, in a nation built on the idea that all people are created equal and endowed with inalienable rights, women were and are exploited with no recourse.
Why is this seismic shift in our culture happening now, in late 2017?