TIME magazine named a group of individuals collectively referred to as “The Silence Breakers” as its Person of the Year recipient. With Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, Taylor Swift, and Terry Crews among the famous names who bravely spoke out against their experiences with sexual harassment, the voices of lesser known persons were also amplified in what has been deemed a reckoning against those who abused their power and influence.
In 1997, just before Ashley Judd’s career took off, she was invited to a meeting with Harvey Weinstein, head of the starmaking studio Miramax, at a Beverly Hills hotel. Astounded and offended by Weinstein’s attempt to coerce her into bed, Judd managed to escape. But instead of keeping quiet about the kind of encounter that could easily shame a woman into silence, she began spreading the word.
“I started talking about Harvey the minute that it happened,” Judd says in an interview with TIME. “Literally, I exited that hotel room at the Peninsula Hotel in 1997 and came straight downstairs to the lobby, where my dad was waiting for me, because he happened to be in Los Angeles from Kentucky, visiting me on the set. And he could tell by my face—to use his words—that something devastating had happened to me. I told him. I told everyone.”
She recalls one screenwriter friend telling her that Weinstein’s behavior was an open secret passed around on the whisper network that had been furrowing through Hollywood for years. It allowed for people to warn others to some degree, but there was no route to stop the abuse. “Were we supposed to call some fantasy attorney general of moviedom?” Judd asks. “There wasn’t a place for us to report these experiences.”
The magazine adds in its writing that when Judd went public with her account, it helped spearhead a movement that culminated into the “#MeToo” campaign first crafted by activist Tarana Burke, who is also profiled in TIME‘s piece. Judd, McGown, Swift, Crews, and individuals outside of entertainment all shared harrowing tales of being harassed and assaulted, all while sharing a common refrain of not knowing where to turn as a result.
TIME‘s entire piece is a definite must-read and can be found by following this link.