These 10 Powerful Quotes From 'TIME's "Silence Breakers" Will Stick With You

by Mia Mercado
Aaron Thornton/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

2017 has been the year of long overdue cultural conversations, namely those surrounding sexual harassment and assault. Now, TIME magazine has named ‘The Silence Breakers’ as their 2017 Person of the Year. The magazine’s much-anticipated profile recognizes the survivors who came forward this year, using public platforms and social media hashtags to speak out against sexual harassment and assault.

These conversations have been catalyzed by celebrity voices, particularly those of famous women. The New York Times exposé on Harvey Weinstein, a cultural tipping point in calling out powerful, predatory men, featured the voices and accusations of powerful women like Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd. The #MeToo campaign, initially started by activist Tarana Burke in 2006, began to spread to our social feeds after Alyssa Milano tweeted about it on October 15 of this year.

What has arguably been the most powerful revelation in this recent cultural reckoning is how similar these stories sound to most every woman, regardless of celebrity status. “In the most painful and personal ways,” TIME’s profile states, “movie stars are more like you and me than we ever knew.” Substitute the names and places mentioned in these public accusations of sexual harassment, and the experience could be that of most any woman.

McGowan, Judd, and Milano are all included in TIME’s profile, as are other notable women like Taylor Swift, who recently won a lawsuit against a radio DJ who groped her in 2013, and Megyn Kelly, who revealed this October that she filed a sexual harassment complaint to Fox News executives against Bill O’Reilly. The profile also includes interviews from women who work in dozens of other industries, from government to tech to hospitals to restaurants.

Workplace sexual harassment is unfortunately all-too-common. Some studies say as many as one in three women have experienced iit while others put that number at nearly 60 percent of women. As some of the most powerful quotes from TIME’s Person of the Year profile reiterate, this is not the first time women have spoken out. However, for the first time, people are listening.

“I started talking about Harvey the minute that it happened.” - Ashley Judd

For many, there was no silence to be broken; they spoke out right after the incident happened. As Judd states in TIME’s profile, she told her father about her experience with Weinstein immediately after it happened. However, this year, this telling, marks the first time they’re being heard.

“I kept thinking, Did I do something, did I say something, did I look a certain way to make him think that was O.K.?” -Anonymous

“Sexual harassment does bring shame. 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.” -Tarana Burke

The normalization of sexual harassment and assault is in part what has brought us to this point. For those unaware of just how widespread the problem has been, it seems this “reckoning” has happened overnight. As these stories and statements and SNL sketches reiterate, this is a reality many women and gender nonconforming people have been existing in for a while now.

“He called the women liars. But their stories were so similar to mine.” -Selma Blair

Seventy-five percent of workplace sexual harassment victims face some form of retaliation, according to a 2003 study. Overall, an estimated 75 percent of workplace sexual harassment incidents go unreported entirely, likely in part due to the well-founded fear of repercussions for the victim.

“Why are you questioning the victim here? … Let’s talk about what the predator is doing.” -Terry Crews

“I remember feeling powerless and like there was no one looking out for us because we had an admitted harasser in the White House.” -Susan Fowler

While we have made clear cultural strides when it comes to confronting sexual harassment, there is still much work to be done. If you need evidence of that, it’s currently sitting in the White House. (Trump and his administration have continually denied such allegations.)

In fact, Donald J. Trump was number two on TIME’s short list for Person of the Year. Though TIME’s profile has been known to feature cultural “influencers” good, bad, and dangerous, Trump, who has been accused of varying degrees of sexual misconduct and assault by at least 16 women, and his position on the list is telling in how far we’ve yet to go.

“I decided to forego any courtroom formalities and just answer the questions the way it happened. This man hadn’t considered any formalities when he assaulted me.” - Taylor Swift

“The reality of being a woman is the same—the difference is the risk each woman must take.” - Sandra Pezqueda

“I felt extremely vulnerable and scared. Then I heard from women I had never met … who had experienced the same toxic culture.” Lindsey Reynolds

In a survey recently conducted by TIME, 82 percent of respondents said they believe that the Weinstein allegations have made women more likely to speak out about harassment. Additionally, 85 percent said they believe these women.

“I want to show [my daughter] that it’s O.K. to stand up for yourself. If you keep fighting, eventually you’ll see the sun on the other side.” - Dana Lewis

Thanks to the people who have spoken out, we’re all already starting to see that other side.

You can read the full TIME profile here.