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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Soul Lounge

New Orleans-based Water Seed joins Shawna Renee inside the "Soul Lounge" where they introduce listeners to their latest album, a wonderful fusion of jazz, soul and rhythm & blues. The group also explains how the heart of New Orleans influences each of them as musicians and songwriters.