Everyone is talking about Judge Brett Kavanaugh and the impending testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused him of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers. As Donald Trump’s pick to replace Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court, Kavanaugh has had his confirmation process interrupted by the accusation. Blasey Ford is scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, but as of the writing of this post, she has yet to confirm her appearance.
Should Blasey Ford choose to show up, she will give her testimony to a committee that has four women on it. That little fact is a sliver of hope that she would be heard out and allowed to tell her story without being shamed or indicted.
When Anita Hill gave her testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991, it was comprised of all men, and they didn’t treat her well. In an op-ed for the New York Times Tuesday called “How to Get the Kavanaugh Hearings Right,” Hill began her lesson with one simple and telling sentence:
“There is no way to redo 1991, but there are ways to do better.”
Hill doesn’t mince words, and immediately follows up on her opening statement by saying there are parallels between the Kavanaugh hearings and the confirmation hearings for Justice Clarence Thomas.
“In 1991, the Senate Judiciary Committee had an opportunity to demonstrate its appreciation for both the seriousness of sexual harassment claims and the need for public confidence in the character of a nominee to the Supreme Court. It failed on both counts,” Hill wrote.
She says that the “country’s commitment to addressing sexual violence as a matter of public interest” as well as the lives of Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh “hang in the balance.”
Today, the public expects better from our government than we got in 1991, when our representatives performed in ways that gave employers permission to mishandle workplace harassment complaints throughout the following decades. That the Senate Judiciary Committee still lacks a protocol for vetting sexual harassment and assault claims that surface during a confirmation hearing suggests that the committee has learned little from the Thomas hearing, much less the more recent #MeToo movement.
Boom. That is a word.
Because as Hill said, those hearings directly contributed to a culture where employers were allowed to shield, hide and protect abusers while the victims were often further harassed and sometimes even pushed out of their jobs. The America of the #MeToo era is not the same America as even five years ago.
And it’s not that America suddenly started caring about the issue. It’s that women are continuously making it it impossible to ignore.
Hill was grilled, patronized and condescended to by an all white, all male Judiciary Committee in 1991. One of the senators who served on that committee was former vice president Joe Biden.
Hill told Elle magazine in a recent interview that she is not holding her breath waiting for Biden to apologize. The magazine suggested that Biden had “sort of”apologized to Hill last year.
Hill replied, “It’s funny you said ‘sort of’ apologized. He said, ‘I owe her an apology.’ People were asking, ‘When are you going to apologize to her?’ It’s become sort of a running joke in the household when someone rings the doorbell and we’re not expecting company. ‘Oh,’ we say, ‘is that Joe Biden coming to apologize?’”
“There are more important things to me now than hearing an apology from Joe Biden. I’m okay with where I am.”
Anita Hill hit Joe Biden with the ultimate subtweet by way of Elle magazine.
“I’m good luv, enjoy.”