Anita Hill, the law professor and attorney whose accussations of being sexually harrassed by now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas gripped the nation in 1991, is finally getting her say. A documentary focused on her life and time in the spotlight will open in New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles on Friday.
A few years back, our editorial director Akiba Solomon revisited the imapct of Hill’s bravery on the 20th annivesary of her saga.
In short, she blew the lid off of workplace sexual harassment. Before Anita Hill, conventional wisdom said that it OK for your boss holler at you. If you weren’t down, it was up to you to fend him off or quit your job. And if you dared speak up, it had better be a slam dunk and in the moment. Otherwise, you were a woman scorned, a liar, and an attention-seeking, incompetent. While elements of this conventional wisdom certainly remain, particularly for undocumented and low-wage workers, today the public is at least vaguely aware that it is illegal for a person who holds your livelihood in their hands to coerce you into a sexual relationship or to create a hostile work environment.
Hill recently sat down for an interview with the New York Times. “I believe in my heart that [Clarence Thomas] shouldn’t have been confirmed [as a Supreme Court justice],” she told the Times. “I believe that the information I provided was clear, it was verifiable, it was confirmed by contemporaneous witnesses that I had talked with. And I think what people don’t understand is that it does go to his ability to be a fair and impartial judge.”