'Time' Salutes 'Silence Breakers' as Person of the Year

After releasing a list of ten finalists for Time magazine's Person of the Year earlier this week, the publication announced today that the title was awarded to the "silence breakers" of the #MeToo movement, who gave a voice to sexual assault and harassment survivors.

Those on the cover include Ashley Judd, Susan Fowler, Adama Iwu, Taylor Swift and Isabel Pascual, but the magazine states that the hundreds of other women, as well as many men, who unleashed "one of the highest-velocity shifts in our culture since the 1960s" also earned the title.

While the concept of #MeToo was started in 2006 by activist Tarana Burke, its use became part of the national conversation in October after celebrities on social media used it to share their own sexual abuse stories in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. The wave of stories prompted people from all walks of life to add their voice to the movement.

"I could never imagine this, I could never have envisioned something that could change the world," Burke said at the reveal on Today alongside actress Alyssa Milano, who says she was also sexually harassed and helped bring the #MeToo hashtag to a wider audience.

"As women we have to support each other and stand up and say, 'No more,'" Milano said.

Time reports that social media acted as fuel for the movement, as the #MeToo hashtag has been used millions of times in at least 85 countries.

"I woke up and there were 32,000 replies in 24 hours," Milano said, "And I thought, My God, what just happened? I think it’s opening the floodgates."

Burke told Time that the tide has shifted around the stigma for sexual assault victims.

"Sexual harassment does bring shame," Burke said. "And I think it's really powerful that this transfer is happening, that these women are able not just to share their shame but to put the shame where it belongs: on the perpetrator."

The women who broke their silence were selected for Time's annual honor, ahead of last year's Person of the Year, President Donald Trump, and Chinese President Xi Jinping.