Before she transcribed this interview, our intern told me that she wasn’t entirely sure who Anita Hill was. I could hardly blame her. Even with a segment on the Anita Hill testimony during a gender studies class in college, I didn’t know too much about Anita Hill myself.
The new documentary,”ANITA,” revisits Anita Hill’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991 after she revealed that her former employer, Clarence Thomas, had sexually harassed her. A quiet law professor in Oklahoma, Hill had privately revealed the sexual harassment she suffered under Thomas, which was then leaked to the press. Immediately thrust in the public eye, she was asked to publicly testify against Thomas and decided to go for it. Sexual harassment laws were on the books, but this was the first time in many people’s memory that a woman subordinate to a very powerful man had spoken out. Not at all surprisingly, Hill was repeatedly asked to repeat graphic testimony about Thomas’ behavior; she was accused of being a liar or a “scorned woman”; and worst of all, treated as if it were her character that was under consideration. That both Hill and now Supreme Court Justice are both Black only added another layer of pressure to her decision to speak up. Thomas famously accused the 14 all-white men seated on the Senate Judiciary Committee investigating Hill’s allegations of conducting a “high tech lynching.” (He later blamed “pro-choice liberals” for going after him.) Eventually, Thomas was narrowly confirmed by the Senate. Keep reading »