News / Arts & Entertainment

Documentary Revisits Anita Hill Sexual Harassment Testimony

Documentary Revisits Anita Hill Sexual Harassment Testimonyi
|| 0:00:00
...  
🔇
X
Penelope Poulou
April 12, 2014 11:15 AM
Sexual harassment in the workplace was rarely discussed publicly until 1991, when a young African-American woman publicly spoke out about unwanted sexual advances during a Senate hearing for a Supreme Court nominee. Now, a new documentary revisits the Anita Hill case. VOA's Penelope Poulou reports.
Documentary Revisits Anita Hill Sexual Harassment Testimony
Penelope Poulou
Sexual harassment was a taboo subject in 1991, when a young woman spoke out about her employer’s unwanted sexual advances during a Senate hearing for a U.S. Supreme Court nominee and opened a public dialogue on sexual harassment. 

It was a "he said, she said" story. Law professor Anita Hill testified before a Senate committee of 14 men that her former employer and Supreme Court nominee, Clarence Thomas, had made sexual advances toward her when she worked for him. Americans by the millions watched an eloquent and poised young woman talk about a personal and painful experience. 

Nearly 23 years later, the documentary, Anita, by Oscar-winning filmmaker Freida Mock revisits those dramatic moments and puts the nation's progress on gender equality into context, especially for the younger generations.
 
“The issues of sexual harassment are very much around us in terms of what they will face going in, if not the workplace, into the military and maybe graduate school,” said Mock, adding that one in five women is sexually assaulted on college campuses yearly.

However, she says progress has been made since 1991.

“Now, the language of sexual harassment is very much in our lexicon,” Mock said.

After Hill’s testimony, women started talking, shared their experiences and understanding of workplace harassment came out in the open which, Mock says, made a huge difference. 

“The year after Clarence Thomas was sworn in, there was a huge uptick in the claims of sexual harassment that were filed with the Equal Opportunity Commission,” said Caren Goldberg, an American University Human Resources professor. 

Goldberg, who also serves as an expert witness in sexual harassment court cases, says many cases still go unreported or unresolved.  

“The media sort of portrays very large settlements as though they are the norm and in fact they are not,” she said. “Your typical sexual harassment settlement is of shockingly low financial value and when one considers the emotional and psychological toll that it takes on a victim to follow through with a lawsuit, often times the costs outweigh the benefits.” 

Mock says sexual harassment is prevalent blue collar workers. She says there are 17 million women who are low level skilled workers, often ethnic, who don’t speak English and are often subjected to sexual harassment.  

But Caren Goldberg says sexual harassment is pervasive. 

“White collar [professional], blue collar [working class], less well educated, highly educated, it’s pretty much across the board,” she said. 

Goldberg says a bad economy and the small financial returns from the average sexual harassment settlement discourage people from taking legal action and risking their jobs. 

In the military especially, fear of risking one's career and a reluctance to question authority create a code of silence surrounding cases of sexual harassment and assault.   

Kirby Dick’s documentary, The Invisible War, pulls open the curtain on the rise in reported rape cases in the military. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter spoke about it in an interview with VOA.

“In the year 2012, which is the last one we knew, they had 26,000 cases of sexual abuse in the military," he said, "and only about 300 were ever brought to justice."

For filmmaker Mock, Anita serves as a reminder of how far society has come. 

"We have a lot more knowledge today and understanding of what sexual harassment is," she said. "And people of goodwill who say, 'This is not right.'"

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

Singer Leyla McCalla takes up not only the guitar, but the banjo and cello to perform songs from her new disc, “A Tribute to Langston Hughes,” music that mixes the Creole rhythms of Haiti with the French Quarter flavor of New Orleans on this edition of "The Hamilton Live."