Time magazine made a very powerful statement when it gave the “Person of the Year” award to “The Silence Breakers” — women from various industries who have spoken out against sexual harassment and sexual assault, creating a cultural movement.
The Dec. 6 issue’s cover features five brave women — actress Ashley Judd, one of the first women to accuse filmmaker Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct; Susan Fowler, a former Uber engineer who exposed the rampant sexism behind the company; singer Taylor Swift, who sued former radio host David Mueller for a symbolic $1; Adama Iwu, a lobbyist for Visa and organizer of “We Said Enough” campaign; and Isabel Pascual, a strawberry picker from Mexico who asked Time to use a pseudonym to protect her family.
But there is another woman on the cover page, one who is nearly invisible at first glance. On the bottom right of the cover, many people noticed an elbow clad in black. At first, the Twitterati thought it was either a foldout cover or someone who accidentally got cropped from the photo.
Gonna pour one out for the person that got cropped out of the TIME cover tho pic.twitter.com/ytmLV2dy0U— Gary He (@garyhe) December 6, 2017
Whose elbow is that, seems a bit unfair pic.twitter.com/ra5agzeyz7— Mike Murphy (@mcwm) December 6, 2017
Turns out, the elbow was intentional and its message is a very powerful one.
The owner of the elbow is meant to represent all the those women who are too afraid to come forward after they suffer sexual harassment, for fear of violence, family rejection or loss of employment. The anonymous woman, who is a hospital worker, remains unidentified, yet shared her story of sexual abuse.
Time national correspondent Charlotte Alter explained the sentiment behind the striking photo.
“That's very intentional,” Alter said of the elbow. “That's an anonymous woman who is a hospital worker who was experiencing harassment and didn't feel that she could come forward.”
“A huge part of this story is that as much as the stigma around this has been removed this year because of the ‘Me Too’ movement, it’s still really difficult for a lot of people to come forward,” she told the outlet.
As the #MeToo campaign gained momentum, skeptics have questioned why these women who allege sexual assault did not come forward earlier. This cynicism ignores the crushing power play that enables sexual misconduct by allowing the influential to prey on vulnerable women and men while others look the other way.
Time’s message is clear: People who suffer abuse are not weak and should not be easily dismissed.
Banner/Thumbnail: Time Inc. via REUTERS