Is Time Magazine Trying to Muffle These “Silence Breakers?”

The Time “Person” of the Year, the “Silence Breakers” on the cover of the magazine

By: Morgan Thomas | Opinion Editor

December 13th, 2017

With the flood of sexual assault accusations toward the once distinguished film producer Harvey Weinstein, came the rise of the female voice demanding justice for the abuse and misconduct forced upon women across the nation. This voice, composed of women from various economic, social, and ethnic backgrounds, joined together to fight back, forming a group now known as the “Silence Breakers” and acting as a catalyst for a movement supporting speaking out against something that happens to one in every five women, impacting them for the rest of their lives.

Just shortly after this new movement came to fruition, Time Magazine awarded these brave “Silence Breakers” the Time “Person” of the Year, sending a message to every woman who has ever been a victim of sexual assault that they are not alone. For years, the idea of sexual assault was a taboo topic due to patterns of victim blaming that stem from the accused assaulter oftentimes holding a position of power over these women. Due to the recent events involving Time magazine, many believe that the system that once discouraged people from speaking out as victims of sexual assault could come to an end. However, the Person of the Year runner up seems to be a tell tale sign that these patterns, in fact, won’t be broken with the power of the new movement.

Donald Trump, last year’s Person of the Year, came in second this year. This may seem understandable at first, for he has been the talk of the nation since the day he was voted into office. However, the discussion of Trump wasn’t just limited to his political agenda. Several women came out accusing Trump of sexual assault right before the election, and according to the electoral results, many citizens turned a blind eye.

Today, Time Magazine turns a blind eye as well, claiming Trump has “changed the rules of the American presidency,” but fails to mention the work he has done to support rape culture in America by enabling powerful sexual predators, as well as being allegedly one of those predators himself. By naming Trump the runner up to a movement that has been created partially due allegations involving himself, Time reduces the progress that they made by shedding light on the victims that are speaking out against the very thing that Trump represents- a man taking advantage of others due to his position of power.

“To many women, Trump being named the runner up seems to overshadow the actual Person of the Year,” discussed San Clemente High School senior Naavit Silva as she voiced her disdain towards the hypocrisy that Time Magazine has been exerting. “When I found out who the winner was then the runner up, I thought, ‘well that’s ironic that someone being charged for sexual assault is being recognized next to some of his victims.’”

Kelli Beach, a senior another SCHS senior, tried to put herself in those women’s shoes, “If I was one of those women who accused Donald Trump of sexual assault that made an appearance in the Time article, I would be confused. I would think ‘what kind of message are they putting out there by putting the accused abuser next to his victims?’ That just doesn’t seem right.” These women and many others are discussing Time’s controversial decision, including celebrity and women’s rights activist, Demi Lovato. They believe that as long as these powerful sexual abusers continue to receive recognition, the normalization of sexual assault will continue.

Even though Time magazine doesn’t necessarily praise Donald Trump as a runner up, they fail to even attempt to discuss the controversy involving his assault accusations, reverting back to the old ways of minimal dialogue surrounding what the “Silence Breakers” are trying so hard to bring to the surface of societal issues today. This is why, now more than ever, these large media influencers need to take a stand when it comes to discussing the topics that many powerful figures don’t want to mention.

As long as there are “Silence Breakers,” there will be silencers, and as long as they keep receiving recognition from influencers like Time magazine, the cries of united people attempting to break social barriers might as well be hushed whispers behind closed doors.  

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