A searing collection of essays looks back at the 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearings that ignited a national debate about workplace sexual harassment.
In the fall of 1991, Anita Hill captured the country’s attention when she testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee describing sexual harassment by Clarence Thomas, who had been her boss and was about to ascend to the Supreme Court. We know what happened next: she was challenged, disbelieved, and humiliated; he was given a lifelong judicial appointment. What is less well-known is how many women and men were inspired by Anita Hill’s bravery, how her testimony changed the feminist movement, and how she singlehandedly brought public awareness to the issue of sexual harassment. Twenty years later, this collection brings together three generations to witness, respond to, and analyze Hill’s impact, and to present insights in law, politics, and the confluence of race, class, and gender. With original contributions by Anita Hill, Melissa Harris-Perry, Catharine MacKinnon, Patricia J. Williams, Eve Ensler, Ai Jen Poo, Kimberly Crenshaw, Lynn Nottage, Gloria Steinem, Lani Guinier, Lisa Kron, Mary Oliver, Edwidge Danticat, Kevin Powell, and many others.
“These timely essays show us how those historic hearings brought sexual harassment (especially in the workplace) into the public eye, while also revealing what still hasn’t changed, and reminding us of the intersection of race, class, gender, and power that underlies this contentious issue.” —Publishers Weekly
This powerful book preserves the essays and conversations from the October 2011 conference organized at Hunter College for the 20th anniversary of Anita Hill's testimony at Clarence Thomas's Senate confirmation hearings. The eloquent results explore the hearings themselves in which Hill charged that Supreme Court nominee Thomas had sexually harassed her as well as their impact on the legal, social, and cultural landscape, and the lives of the authors. Broken into four sections, the book includes reminiscences by key figures such as Charles Ogletree, Hill's lead counsel, and Representatives Louise Slaughter and Patricia Schroeder, part of the delegation of women from the House who demanded an inquiry into the allegations, alongside essays by younger feminists, and a strong essay by Hill herself (now a professor at Brandeis University). The essays are by turns personal and analytical, but all are moving and engrossing. The volume also includes wonderful poems and performance pieces from the event, authored by the likes of Edwidge Danticat and Eve Ensler. These timely essays show us how those historic hearings brought sexual harassment (especially in the workplace) into the public eye, while also revealing what still hasn't changed, and reminding us of the intersection of race, class, gender, and power that underlies this contentious issue.