Photo: Time's Person of the Year Cover. Source: NPR.
Through the years, Time has been an informational magazine filled with insights and knowledge on a wide variety of topics, from pop culture and music to advances in science and technology. The magazine is published on a weekly basis in the United States since 1923 and counts with a significant number of editions across the world. The Time Europe magazine is edited in London, the Asian Edition in Hong Kong, the Canadian version in Toronto and, finally, the South Pacific version is edited in Sidney. The story behind the magazine’s name has remained somewhat of a mystery, though in some public campaigns, they have gone on record to mention that it may be an acronym for ‘Today: Information Means Everything’, in a bold reference to the current age of information humanity is currently living in.
One of the most important publications of Time Magazine, every year is the Time’s Person of the Year edition, in which the group recognizes a person or object as the single most influential being or object that has garnered the most amount of newsworthy headlines in the year. Contrary to popular belief, this edition doesn’t necessarily have to name a living being as person of the year, as in the 1982 edition, for example, the Personal Computer was named ‘Machine of the Year’. Furthermore, in 1999, in a dramatic change of pace, Albert Einstein was named ‘Man of the Century’. Interestingly, it’s important to note that those who are named Person of the Year don’t always have to affect the news in a positive manner. In the past, individuals such as Joseph Stalin or Adolf Hitler were named Person of the Year on past occasions.
As of 2016, personalities such as Donald Trump (2016), Ebola Fighters (2014), Pope Francis (2013), Barack Obama (2012), Vladimir Putin (2007), The United States Armed Forces (2003), and Adolf Hitler (1938), among others have been named People of the Year by Time Magazine. All of these are, for the most part, and without a doubt, influential people in their own right, which makes the magazine’s choice of Person of the Year for 2017 that much more interesting. While other chosen personalities have been creating controversy through political or religious means, and through their respective circles across the world, this year’s most notable person according to Time Magazine is a movement that comes from arguably more humble origins.
Sadly, in a dark turn of events, the final weeks of 2017, as well as the entirety of 2018 have been plagued by terrifying news of sexual harassment scandals perpetrated by individuals from several media outlets, including TV & Movie actors, singers, writers, and hospital workers, among others.
With the hashtag #MeToo, people around the world have united against sexual harassment, and denounced the individuals that have, either recently or in times past, sexually abused them.
The #MeToo movement has garnered a huge following among both men and women who have been subjected to sexual mistreatment of any kind. The movement itself has helped to shed light on long-forgotten cases of sexual misconduct and has prompted either the investigation or arrest of those involved in any such cases. For this reason, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the movement is featured front and center in last year’s Time Magazine Person of the Year edition. Specifically, the edition is titled ‘The Silence Breakers’, and in the front cover are featured the individuals whose voices helped spark the #MeToo movement across the world.
However, what’s most important about this edition (and this article, as well), is not only those who are featured in the cover, but also the woman on the bottom right, who just barely made the picture, and is cropped from the cover. Upon closer inspection, we learn that the woman getting cropped out was not unintentional, as she opted to remain anonymous in fear of repercussions from her current boss, as well as from the residents of her small town, as she is one of the individuals who has suffered from sexual abuse at her nursing job. The article on the Silence Breakers claims that this woman, 28, has been subjected to sexual harassment in many occasions by a top executive in her current place of work and that she’s submitted several anonymous complaints to Human Resources about it, with little success.
Last year’s Time Magazine is all about women like this nurse, who are in similar situations where they are subjected to varying degrees of sexual harassment and abuse, and cannot seek help anywhere for fear of retaliation because of her job, families, or worse; their lives.
Sadly, when it comes to the nursing field, the female personnel of the trade are no strangers to sexual harassment in the job. As a matter of fact, patient to nurse sexual abuse is currently regarded as an occupational hazard for nurses (of both genders). Furthermore, this fact is further cemented by an outdated hierarchy system that some ‘traditional’ hospitals follow, wherein the doctors talk down to the nursing staff, while the latter is forced to take abuse and mistreatment by both medical staff and patients without complaining, should they want to keep their positions.
One prominent case features the nurse Paula Rickey of the Cedars Sinai Hospital suing Dr. Kerry Kouroush, a preeminent eye surgeon, accusing the doctor of battery, sexual harassment, and gender discrimination. The incident that sparked the suit, which was caught on tape by surveillance cameras, showed Dr. Kouroush pursuing the nurse as she left the OR after completing cleanup. Upon catching up to her, the tape shows Kouroush punching the nurse in the back of the head. Rickey states that the doctor’s rage was sparked when she asked him if he had finished working on his current case so that she could call the cleaning crew and get them to prep the OR for the next surgeon.
In the aftermath of the incident, Rickey resigned. However, after a month, she mustered the courage to speak up for herself and showed the surveillance footage to the hospital’s board of directors. Unfortunately, while the perpetrator was simply transferred to another department, the nurse was rehired but had her hours (and pay) cut.
Like Rickey, there are hundreds, if not thousands of other cases in which nursing staff are subjected to misconduct of varying natures, and are forced to keep quiet to avoid further harm. The Silence Breaks, alongside the #MeToo movement they helped spark, are working towards spreading the word about sexual and physical misconduct, and hopefully encouraging the victims to step forward and shed light on their cases so that they may live in peace, without having to conform to receiving abuse in order to keep their jobs.