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 »
This post is reprinted from The Huffington Post with the permission of its authors.
What’s the biggest myth about street harassment? That men of color comprise the majority of offenders.
It’s a myth as old as this nation: the idea that Black men are more likely to be sexual predators — especially of white women. Consider D.W. Griffith’s “The Birth Of A Nation,” that builds an entire narrative on the idea of the black brute. From the Scottsboro boys to Emmitt Till, history as well as popular culture, the justice system and virtually all other facets of American society still hold the deeply entrenched notion of Black men as people to be feared.
But the myth doesn’t stop with history. In a recent New York Times article, a White woman living in a mostly Caribbean community (Crown Heights, Brooklyn) gets physically assaulted by a Latino man and wonders if it’s her fault, as if moving into a mostly Caribbean community was the city-dwellers equivalent to “asking for it.” A few years ago, a woman, also writing for The New York Times, reported on her experience doing aid work in the Congo and hearing repeatedly from other European aid workers that sexual harassment, violence, and rape in those areas “is cultural,” instead of, as she duly notes, “a tool of war.” The myth that Black and Latino men are innately sexually aggressive is one that extends beyond our national borders. Keep reading »
Many Frisky readers are too young to remember the 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearing of Clarence Thomas, then a federal circuit judge. One name you might recall is Anita Hill. She was the Black woman who came forward to publicly testify that Thomas, her boss at the Department of Education and the EEOC, had sexually harassed her in a gross, relentless manner. The accusations against Thomas were a powderkeg, taking on a life of its own and igniting racial, sexual and political tensions. Anita Hill herself became the one put on trial in the court of public opinion. For a lot of women, how her behavior was picked apart and the violent threats she endured were a chilling reminder of what could happen to any woman who speaks out against sexual harassment at the hands of powerful men. (Thomas was confirmed and remains on the Supreme Court to this day.) “ANITA” looks like an absolutely gripping documentary and a must-see for all working women. It will be released across America in March 2014. [YouTube]
Not long ago, I had a conversation with my father about how literally every woman I know with an active presence online – whether it was as a journalist, as a gamer, or as someone active in a forum – had experienced violent and/or sexual threats. This news often shocks men, as it shocked my father, because they don’t experience the same issues online. Yet harassment is a daily experience for women online, especially for those who are outspoken about feminism. Journalist Amanda Hess has chronicled not only harassment she’s experienced, but the statistics behind harassment that prove, truly, that women are harassed online far more than men. Read more on The Mary Sue…