Sexual Harassment: How Anita Hill Made A Difference

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Twenty years ago, I watched, along with millions of other Americans, the riveting confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas for the U.S. Supreme Court. What I remember most is Anita Hill’s unassailable dignity as she testified about the pubic hair and the Coke. Wikipedia

I also remember knowing this: that the 14 members of the all-male Judiciary Committee would never believe her. If Thomas had sexually harassed her, done the awful things she claimed he did, why didn’t she report him then? Further, why did she follow him to another job? I remember all the awful slurs about Hill, the insinuations that it was Thomas who was the real victim. That she had used her former boss at the Equal Economic Employment Opportunity Commission--can you say irony here?--to get ahead.

Needless to say, Clarence Thomas was approved, Anita Hill was shamed, and now we have one of the most conservative Courts in memory in regard to women’s rights.

Twenty years later, I guess I’m still a little upset.

I’ve often wondered how Anita Hill feels about those historic hearings. Fortunately, Vivia Chen at the Careerist attended “Sex, Power and Speaking Truth: Anita Hill 20 Years Later," a feminist conference at Hunter College where Hill recently spoke.

She writes: What was the most difficult moment in the aftermath of the hearing? Hill said it was the polling that came out right afterward, showing that 70 percent of the public didn't believe her: "I had to go the grocery store and know that seven out of ten people thought I had perjured myself."

Do you have memories of Anita Hill testifying? What do you think her legacy is for feminists?

sexual harassment

Credit Image: © James Colburn Globe Photos/

Read more from Scenes from A Reunion at The Careerist