WASHINGTON • Time magazine has named the social movement aimed at raising awareness about sexual harassment and assault, epitomised by the #MeToo social media hashtag, as the most influential "person" in 2017, the publication announced yesterday.
"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," Ms 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."
The magazine's announcement came a day after United States President Donald Trump's Transportation Secretary said that she had also suffered from sexual harassment, becoming the first member of the President's Cabinet to acknowledge being a victim of such abuse.
"I think that's the dirty little secret that a lot of women have held for a long time," Ms Elaine Chao told a Washington conference organised by the political news outlet Politico. She declined to name the perpetrator or explain what happened, telling the Women Rule annual summit of female leaders that "the person is still here, and he's still around".
Ms Chao, 64, is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and was previously secretary of labour for eight years during the George W. Bush administration.
Mr Trump was Time's Person of the Year last year. He was the first runner-up this year, followed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, Mr 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 Mr Trump won; North Korean President Kim Jong Un; Wonder Woman movie director Patty Jenkins; and football player-turned-activist Colin Kaepernick.
Time's annual distinction recognises the person, group, thing or idea that it has determined had the greatest influence on events for the year.