New documentary highlights Anita Hill’s sex harassment testimony

Posted in Sexual Harassment on March 14, 2014

Most of the millennial generation grew up knowing what sexual harassment is and knowing that it is illegal and wrong. But even for Americans over the age of 35, it is easy to forget that it was only in the early 1990s that the term “sexual harassment” came into widespread use and conversation.

The brave woman who brought national attention to sexual harassment was Anita Hill, a 35-year-old African-American professor of law who had worked under Clarence Thomas at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Ms. Hill was lambasted, threatened, publicly embarrassed and ostracized because she dared to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee prior to the vote confirming Clarence Thomas’ appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.

About 22 years have passed since then and Anita Hill has not changed her story or rescinded any of her allegations. She maintains that she endured significant sexual harassment from her former boss while working under Clarence Thomas at the EEOC. Despite her testimony, Justice Thomas was narrowly confirmed by a 52-48 vote.

Ms. Hill is now 57 years old and was recently profiled in a new documentary by an Oscar-winning filmmaker. As expected, the documentary chronicles her testimony before an all-male and mostly white Senate Judiciary Committee that seemed skeptical about the entire concept of sexual harassment.

According to the L.A. Times, the documentary also shows the repercussions Hill has faced since that time, as well as the positive societal changes that have come about, in part, because of her testimony.

There are still many in Washington and around the country that carry resentments toward Ms. Hill and are unwilling to accept that her allegations were even somewhat truthful. In spite of this, she has been successful in raising awareness about the problem of sexual harassment, and that is a legacy worth being proud of.

Source: L.A. Times, “Clarence Thomas vs Anita Hill: She’s still telling the truth,” Robin Abcarian, Mar. 12, 2014