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

Sambisa Forest Stands Between Nigeria, Victory Over Boko Haram

Military takes back nearly all towns, villages in northeast, except for massive expanse of forest that spreads thousands of square kilometers over several states More

Islamic State Recruiting Stokes Fears for Parents in Georgia

Chechens are a notable part of Islamic State's gains in Syria and Iraq, and analysts fear what might happen if those fighters return to the Caucasus More

Yarmouk Camp Becomes Distant Memory for Palestinian Diaspora

Once thriving capital of Palestinian diaspora, after siege by Syrian government forces and Islamic State group, camp becomes 'deepest circle of hell' 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.
Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'i
X
Sharon Behn
April 21, 2015 9:18 PM
A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten. Sharon Behn reports on the politics of the word genocide on the 100th anniversary of the events.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video German Program Helps Migrants Overcome Traumatic Experience at Sea

Migrants fleeing poverty and violence in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia risk life and limb to reach safety in Europe. Those who have made it to European shores are traumatized by the experience. A program in Germany helps survivors overcome the trauma by giving a new perspective to their catastrophic experience. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry Wayne Casey – “KC” of KC and the Sunshine Band – comes to VOA’s Studio 4 to talk with "Border Crossings" host Larry London and perform songs from his new album, “Feeling You! The 60s.”