Time Person of the Year: The Silence Breakers… and Donald Trump

TIME has named their ‘Person of the Year’ as The Silence Breakers; people of various ages, races, gender and professions who have spoken out against sexual assault. In a post-Weinstein era, it is important that we are acknowledging the bravery of those who come forward and share their stories. However, TIME’s gesture is somewhat undermined by naming Donald Trump as their runner up.

The article on The Silence Breakers applauds the people who have spoken out. It works at removing the stigma around sexual assault, assures the victims that they should not feel ashamed, and lets them know that people will listen. TIME claims that by sharing your stories, things will change, you can make a difference. Unless the person you are accusing is Donald Trump. In that case, forget it.

The hypocrisy does not just lie in the inconsistency of the Person of The Year and its runner up, but their respective articles are flooded with contradictions. On one hand, they recognize ‘a shift in the culture, a willingness to hold even beloved and powerful men accountable for past misdeeds,’ but use the other to hold up these powerful men in high regard. In the article on The Silence Breakers, they discuss Trump and his disgusting confession of sexual assault,

The language used by the man who would become America’s 45th President, captured on a 2005 recording, was, by any standard, vulgar. He didn’t just say that he’d made a pass; he “moved on her like a bitch.” He didn’t just talk about fondling women; he bragged that he could “grab ’em by the pussy.”

Not only does the article condemn Trump’s language and the assault that it was describing, but it places Trump in the grander scheme of this discourse on sexual assault,

That Donald Trump could express himself that way and still be elected President is part of what stoked the rage that fueled the Women’s March the day after his Inauguration. It’s why women seized on that crude word as the emblem of the protest that dwarfed Trump’s Inauguration crowd size. “All social movements have highly visible precipitating factors,” says Aldon Morris, a professor of sociology at Northwestern University. “In this case, you had Harvey Weinstein, and before that you had Trump.”

It is important that we are claiming to live in post-Weinstein era, rather than a post-Trump one. The accusations against Weinstein sparked a movement which has resulted in tangible change happening in Hollywood. Men like Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and so many more have been publicly damned for their actions. They have faced concrete consequences as a result of their behavior, and rightly so. Where is Trump’s condemnation? It is not to be found in TIME.

Trump’s article, by Molly Ball, ignores any trace of sexual assault. Instead, they praise him for his controversial nature and his uncanny ability to cause a stir on twitter,

One thing is sure: love him or hate him, Trump has invaded our attention in ways previous Presidents never did. He commands more than just the levers of executive power; he has the nation, and the world, in the grip of his singular performance, and events have bent to his will. This has been Year One of Trump’s presidency, and the Trump show continues unabated. The reviews may be mixed, but no one can turn away.

The fact that TIME followed up their article on The Silence Breakers with this piece on Trump is insulting and incredibly damaging. It transforms naming The Silence Breakers as Person of The Year from something remarkable and important, to a cheap way to jump on a trending topic. Demi Lovato called out TIME in a series of tweets, which draw attention to the short list’s unabashed hypocrisy,

TIME commends The Silence Breakers for coming forward and sharing their stories. They build a narrative of unity, support and progression. But this is all forgotten at one fell swoop, when they named Donald Trump, serial sexual assaulter, as runner up. Clearly, the moral of this year’s TIME Person of the Year is, no matter how many people bravely speak out against them, these men will continue to thrive.



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