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Ashley Judd, Susan Fowler, Adama Iwu, Taylor Swift and Isabel Pascual (a pseudonym) are pictured on the Time magazine’s cover in this handout photo obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.
Ashley Judd, Susan Fowler, Adama Iwu, Taylor Swift and Isabel Pascual (a pseudonym) are pictured on the Time magazine’s cover in this handout photo obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.

NEW YORK: The Time magazine has described the persons behind the #MeToo movement as this year’s most influential people and named them the ‘Person of the Year’.

The announcement was made by the publication on NBC’s Today show, which was rather ironic because the show’s host Matt Lauer was fired two weeks ago following reports of sexual abuse. The highest paid newsman’s exit came as a shock.

According to the magazine, the story is about women and men who have spoken out — including activist Tarana Burke, who started the hashtag 10 years ago,

The #MeToo campaign rose to prominence as a social media movement in the wake of high-profile accusations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. After actress Alyssa Milano popularised the hashtag, thousands of women began sharing their stories about the pervasive damage wrought by sexual harassment and by “open secrets” about such abuse.

While the most high-profile #MeToo stories have come from women and men who work in the movies and media, the Time article also features women who work hourly jobs, some of whom want to remain anonymous.

Reuters adds: “This is the fastest moving social change we’ve seen in decades and it began with individual acts of courage by hundreds of women — and some men, too — who came forward to tell their own stories,” Time Editor-in-Chief Edward Felsenthal told NBC News, referring to them as “the silence breakers”.

The recognition comes amid a wave of public allegations of sexual misconduct that have targeted some of the most prominent men in US politics, media and entertainment, leading to multiple firings and investigations.

As more people made their accusations public, other individuals also shared their own stories of assault and harassment, often with posts on social media platforms using the hashtag #MeToo.

“I could never have envisioned something that would change the world. I was trying to change my community,” Tarana Burke, who created the hashtag, told NBC.

“This is just the start. It’s not just a moment, it’s a movement. Now the work really begins.”

President Donald Trump, who was Time’s person of the year last year, was the first runner-up this year, followed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, Felsenthal said.

Other finalists included US Department of Justice Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the investigation of alleged Russian meddling in the election that Trump won; North Korean President Kim Jong-Un; Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins; and football player-turned-activist Colin Kaepernick.

The Time’s annual distinction recognises the person, group, thing or idea that it has determined had the greatest influence on events for the year.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2017