time person of the year

Who Is the Sixth Person on TIME’s “Silence Breakers” Cover?

And who else is left out?

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Five women are on the cover of TIME’s Person of the Year issue. They come from five different industries, five very different backgrounds, illustrating the pervasiveness of sexual harassment in women’s lives.

There are more men and women featured inside the magazine, but those on the cover are Ashley Judd, Taylor Swift, former Uber employee Susan Fowler, a strawberry picker from Mexico going by the pseudonym Isabel Pascual, and Adama Iwu, a corporate lobbyist in California.

But there’s a sixth woman on the cover. If you look at the picture, you can see an arm in the lower right corner. That’s deliberate. It belongs to a hospital worker from a small town, who spoke with TIME under the condition of anonymity since she feared what would happen to her and her family if her story were made public.

She represents all the survivors of sexual harassment and assault who don’t come forward. Whether it’s because of the shame many victims feel or because they fear losing their jobs, there are countless reasons why women might not speak out. TIME’s correspondent Charlotte Alter said they “wanted to include people that reference the risk these women are taking by speaking out about this.”

There are others, though, whose absence from the cover has a lot of people upset. To start with, the #MeToo movement gained public attention when it was tweeted out by Alyssa Milano in October of this year. But that was ten years after the Me Too movement was created by Tarana Burke, a black woman. Burke was largely denied credit for the hashtag and movement sweeping the internet. While Burke is profiled inside the magazine, it seems like a massive oversight to leave her off the cover.

There are others that have been left out as well, both from the magazine and the larger conversation.

https://twitter.com/ira/status/938807489407074304

Adding to these disappointments is the anger a lot of people feel at Taylor Swift’s inclusion. Because while Swift’s fight against her own abuser cannot be discounted, she has been largely silent on how these issues affect other women, especially women of color. For many, Swift represents the lack of intersectionality in mainstream feminism, insisting instead on a compartmentalization of feminism that ignores the struggles as well as the work of women of color. So when women like Burke are left off the cover, but Taylor Swift is featured, it feels like a very predictable insult.

What are your feelings on the TIME cover?

(image: TIME)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.