Season 2: Episode 12: Should We Believe Anita Hill?
With the Hashtag History Podcast
Kelsie Eckert 0:05
The remedial Herstory Project is a nonprofit working to get women's history into the K to 12 curriculum to help us meet our goal. We produce media lesson plans, and so much more. Check it out on our website, www.remedialherstory.com. The remedial herstory project is funded through grants and by listeners like you. Please head over to patreon.com and become a supporter of the remedial Herstory Project. YouTube can help us reform education and allow women to be seen heard and complicated. In particular funds from patrons added from here on out will help us launch a crash course YouTube channel on women's history. We will be producing short 10 minute videos that educators can play in their classes telling women's history from era to era for both U.S and world history. Let's make herstory together.
Brooke Sullivan 0:54
Kelsie Eckert 0:55
Brooke Sullivan 0:56
Want to tell everyone what's happening in today's episode?
Kelsie Eckert 0:58
In this episode, we are going to be talking with Leah and Rachel from the Hashtag History podcast about their favorite topic, Anita Hill.
Hello, and welcome to remedial herstory, the other 50%. the podcast that explores what happened to the women in history class. Now here's your host, Kelsie Brooke Eckert and her partner in crime, Brooke Neva Sullivan.
Kelsie Eckert 1:25
In this episode, we are going to be talking about Anita Hill, she came forward in 1991, to basically take a stand against the Senate hearings on Clarence Thomas as he was being considered for the Supreme Court, the Supreme Court, which he is on today, presently. And she came forward with allegations of sexual harassment. And it was one of the biggest high profile cases of accusations of sexual harassment. 70% of people in that time, regardless of race, or class, or sex, believed that Anita Hill was perjuring herself, they believed she was lying. So this is a really interesting because 30 years later, in lieu of the me too movement and all sorts of things. It's interesting to think about how much has changed and how much people believe women more. And so I guess the question then is, historically, should we believe someone like Anita Hill, and she's such a fascinating character, because she is so reserved and doesn't want to have this public spotlight and yet was so willing to come forward and be morally courageous in some ways to to take a stand against what she saw as an inappropriate person sitting on the Supreme Court. And so I guess a follow up question would be if that was provable, that he had sexually harassed or is it therefore something that should prevent him from being on the Supreme Court? And and how egregious Is that is that crime? These are questions that I think we should all should be considering, because they seem to be coming up over and over again, with, you know, Brett Kavanaugh very recently, but in lots of different positions, not just the Supreme Court. So I'm not the expert here on Anita Hill. And I'm so excited to have Rachel and Leah here to teach us about Anita Hill, so I'm gonna have them introduce themselves.
Rachel (Hashtag History) 3:23
Leah (Hashtag History) 3:25
And I'm Leah.
Rachel (Hashtag History) 3:26
And we are the Hashtag History podcast. So we are a History podcast that covers history's greatest stories of controversy, conspiracy and corruption. So some of the topics we've covered are things like Chappaquiddick or Jack the Ripper, the sinking of the Titanic, and then we've also covered even like, the history of Disneyland, and then more more in line with the remedial Herstory podcast, because I know that you ladies cover really incredible women in history. We also have covered some women in history, but because we cover more controversial topics, those women are kind of more like Elizabeth Bathory and Lizzie Borden. So yeah, like
Leah (Hashtag History) 4:05
serial killers generally. Yeah.
Rachel (Hashtag History) 4:09
The worse, the better.
Leah (Hashtag History) 4:13
And then something else we do on our podcast is each week we try to tie a themed cocktail tailored to that weeks subject in somehow. So for example, for a recent episode about Centennial Olympic Park bombing, for instance, we tried out a cocktail called the Olympic torch, or for our coverage of Tonya Harding. We tried out a cocktail called the triple axel so we always just try to make it fun. Have a little cocktail included in our segment.
Rachel (Hashtag History) 4:41
We do have some other like really fascinating women that we've covered. What's the one I'm thinking of right now? We are you just set it Oh, Tonya Harding, where I was gonna do not necessarily serial killers, but they still have a lot of controversy controversy surrounding them.
Kelsie Eckert 4:59
This podcast is sponsored by our patrons, patrons get access to behind the scenes, regular rhp gear, bonus episodes, insights into our research, lesson plans before everybody else. And more. Brooke, read off these awesome people.
Brooke Sullivan 5:15
Thank you to Jeff, Barbara, Christian, Ken, Jamie, Jenna, Nancy, Megan, Leah, Mark, Nicole, and Sarah, Alicia and Katya.
Kelsie Eckert 5:24
Woohoo do you notice so awesome about this particular group of people?
Brooke Sullivan 5:28
Kelsie Eckert 5:29
very few of them are actually educators. These are bad ass people who care so much about equitable and inclusive education that they are willing to put their money where their mouth is
Brooke Sullivan 5:41
Kelsie Eckert 5:42
Brooke Sullivan 5:42
Kelsie Eckert 5:43
Yeah, so cool. You too can become a patron of the remedial herstory project by heading over to www.patreon.com and becoming a sponsor of the remedial Herstory project for just $5 a month. That's it. That's one latte.
Brooke Sullivan 6:00
But I mean, it's, it's one of something but it's cheap, and you get all that stuff,
Kelsie Eckert 6:06
all that stuff, you too can give up one latte for 1000s of children and women.
Brooke Sullivan 6:12
You could also buy condoms for more than
Kelsie Eckert 6:17
you could perhaps
Brooke Sullivan 6:18
you could reduce reproduction. For less than that.
Kelsie Eckert 6:24
Brooke, most importantly, instead of lamenting that women's history isn't being taught in high school, or that they didn't know these women, these people are putting their money, where their mouth is. And they are getting it in to the curriculum by funding us.
Brooke Sullivan 6:37
It's awesome. And they believe women's stories are important.
Kelsie Eckert 6:41
Brooke Sullivan 6:42
Kelsie Eckert 6:42
duh, thanks, patrons, we love you,
Brooke Sullivan 6:45
we do love you.
Kelsie Eckert 6:48
We're connecting Anita Hill to politics, because oftentimes women get into politics, for things that have little to do with their own political ambitions. And Anita Hill is probably a really good example of that. Similar to the suffragists before, she's outside the power and trying to speak truth to power, and therefore she becomes highly political, she's highly controversial. And it would be wrong to have a theme about politics and not include those people that are on the outside. So I'm really excited to turn it over to Rachel and Leah, to have them tell us a little bit about Anita Hill. So it'd be awesome. If we could start with a little bit of background on who she is.
Leah (Hashtag History) 7:33
I'll all admit, like, I had heard the name, I knew it was about, you know, a testimony. But other than that, until we dug into it on our podcast, I didn't know any of the details. I remember, we looked at some photos. And I was just like, I do remember seeing that when I was a kid like I do remember it being mentioned in passing when I was a kid or you know, at some point, but it never, I cannot say that it was ever taught to me as like, a landmark historical moment.
Rachel (Hashtag History) 8:04
Mm hmm. And I would say similarly, I don't recall the exact moment when I learned about it. So just a little, you know, background for remedial herstory listeners. And I was a history major. So I've always been like a huge history nerd. So sometimes, like, I don't recall exactly when I learned about a historical event, it kind of seems like I've always known about this. And this is kind of one of those scenarios. I just always remember from like an early age, that picture of Anita Hill in her powder blue suit, with her hand raised, you know, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee. And so I can't again, I can't recall exactly the moment when I learned about it, I feel like it's just kind of always been something on my periphery. But I took a deeper dive into the story a few years ago, I read her book. And then of course, I did a ton of research for the episode that we put together about her and just completely fell in love with her pretty much.
Kelsie Eckert 9:03
If you were to hypothesize, why do you think her story maybe isn't taught in schools even today, even when it is history, and even when it hits that bar?
Leah (Hashtag History) 9:14
I'll point at the elephant in the room. It's a woman, it's a woman standing up against a patriarchal society and, you know, basically just stating the facts, you know, not taking any BS. And that probably, while it inspired many women, I think, I think it also ruffled a lot of feathers. And so I think it's kind of a controversial subject. And those tend to be kind of glossed over in history books. Honestly.
Rachel (Hashtag History) 9:47
I think one thing I just thought of, as you were speaking is the political aspects of it that we may touch on later, you know, as we share the story about Anita Hills testimony. She did not anticipate the political fall from her testimony, she did not anticipate that it was going to become such a political topic, and that there would be political motives. And so I wonder if that's an element to of why it isn't shared in history so much is because it was just so clouded by politics that unfortunately, you kind of lose a little bit of the importance of the story, when there was such an emphasis on, you know, sticking to party lines and all that jazz.
Kelsie Eckert 10:34
You know, we recently lived through another Supreme Court nomination with a very similar, you know, woman standing up there. And I, in both cases, I feel like it was, I just believe her. Yeah, tell me the story.
Rachel (Hashtag History) 10:47
Okay. So I will start just by doing a really quick summation for anyone that needs, you know, a refresher on Anita Hill or for any listeners that aren't familiar with her at all. And Anita Hill, she's most known for the infamous event that thrust her into the spotlight when she testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991, about accusations that US Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, while in his capacity as her manager, at both the United States Department of Education, and when they were working together at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that he had sexually harassed her. And like you touched on Kelsie, you know, unfortunately, this is an incident that isn't covered very often when learning about history, you know, in a standard history class, which is really unfortunate because this event truly changed history. For example, before Anita Hill's testimony, there were roughly about 7000 sexual harassment cases filed in the United States per year. But in the years following her testimony, this number would nearly triple. So we can see, you know, in hindsight how much of an impact she had, and how much she empowered women and you know, particularly women in the workplace to step up and speak their truth. But unfortunately, at the time of her testimony, that was not her reality. You know, whereas I look at her now as an absolute hero. She was not considered by many to be one back in 1991. In fact, her testimony was torn apart, and many refused to believe her story.
Leah (Hashtag History) 12:22
So just to give a little background on Anita before all of this scandal, if you will, took place she was born Anita Faye Hill on July 30th 1965, in Lone Tree, Oklahoma. She was the youngest of 13 children, which sounds horrendous to me. She was yeah, she was the granddaughter of a slave and she was absolutely brilliant. Just as a quick overview of some of her early life accomplishments, she was valedictorian of her high school. She got the highest honors when she completed her bachelor's degree. And then she went on to Yale, where she actually received her law degree. Also with honors. she was working at a Washington DC law firm after completing law school, when she was introduced by a mutual friend to Clarence Thomas, who encouraged her to come work for him as his assistant in his newly appointed position. As Assistant Secretary of the US Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights. She was super excited at the possibility of working in civil rights. So she totally jumped on board. She started working for Clarence, and then a year ish goes by and Thomas became the chairman of the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and Hill became his assistant there as well. So in total, he was her boss for about two years. Following her employment under Thomas she went on to become a law professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Law, where she would become the first tenured African American professor at the University at the time of the Supreme Court Justice confirmation, which took place eight years after she worked for Clarence Thomas. Just like all of this scandal and controversy aside, like she is a crazy amazing woman is like so so awesome.
Kelsie Eckert 14:23
I'm just so in awe of how smart she is. And it's funny because in in Blasey Ford to like she also was like a law professor, you know, like these women are are so brilliant. And I think the the double, like the other issue here that's so impactful on me at least, I'm sure you're gonna get into this is just the race piece, right? Like not only is there this gender component for her, but she's also this black woman who's breaking barriers, which is amazing. So I'm loving this, this is amazing.
Rachel (Hashtag History) 14:56
And that it was a really good point to bring up too because a lot of the time. Unfortunately with these situations, you know where a woman speaks up, she speaks her truth. She says, Hey, I was sexually harassed, I was sexually assaulted. A lot of the time their character is assassinated, right. And one of the things that came up in this Anita Hill story was all of these, you know, middle aged white men saying, Anita Hill couldn't have been sexually harassed because she's not a 21 year old school secretary, like that the criteria of being sexually harassed is that you have to be young, you have to you know, maybe not have a whole lot of education. And Anita Hill and like you shared, Christine Blasey Ford are fantastic examples of these really brilliant, really educated women that are also subjected to these awful incidents of sexual harassment. For anyone that isn't super familiar with like Supreme Court Justice nominations and confirmations. I'll go ahead and do a really quick recap. So you can kind of understand, you know, where Clarence Thomas falls into this story. So, Article two, section two, clause two, of the United States Constitution gives the President the power to nominate justices to the Supreme Court, this nomination must then be confirmed by the United States Senate, because this opportunity is serving on the country's highest court. And because it is a lifelong appointment, you have to be vetted, which includes the FBI doing a full background check. So they check out things like your tax records, or, you know, potential police records, they interview your friends and your families and your colleagues and so on. And then after they've done all that, you go before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is a standing committee composed of a number of US senators that interview you themselves, and then make a final vote, in which they simply must reach a majority vote in order for you to be confirmed as the next U.S Justice to the Supreme Court. So in July of 1991, President George HW Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court to replace Thurgood Marshall, who had served on the court at that point for 24 years, I believe it was. So prior to Thomas's nomination, he had served as Assistant Attorney General in Missouri, he worked as a legislative assistant to a US senator, he became the assistant secretary for civil rights at the United States Department of Education. And then like we've already shared, he became the chairman of the EEOC. And again, part of this nomination and confirmation process is a full vetting by the FBI. So Anita Hill, obviously, she's aware that her former boss has been nominated. You know, she saw it on the news. She's, it's still in the legal field, the legal industry. So she's very aware that Clarence Thomas, her former boss had been nominated by the President to become a Supreme Court Justice. So knowing the process for nominations and confirmation, she fully expected to receive a call from the FBI, because that's, you know, part of the typical vetting process and she had worked with him, you know, in two different organizations. It's during that call when the FBI calls her that they specifically asked her, we understand that you experienced sexual harassment at the hands of Clarence Thomas, believing that her statement would remain confidential and also believing that she would be but one of several other women that would come forward and allege the same, she responded honestly to the question. And she told them that she had indeed been sexually harassed by Thomas in the course of her employment. But of course, as we know, this interview would not remain confidential, it would end up being leaked to the press. And in response to that the Senate Judiciary Committee that had already finished Thomas's confirmation hearings at this point, they ended up calling Anita Hill to testify this, they subpoenaed her, they reopened the confirmation hearing after it had already been concluded, which was only the third time in history that this ever happened.
Kelsie Eckert 19:08
Do they know who leaked it to the press? Like, is that known information?
Rachel (Hashtag History) 19:13
Yeah, really great question. So the press that leaked the story was NPR and I'll touch on that in a moment. But no, and even Anita Hill doesn't for sure know. in her autobiography that I read, when she's, I mean, and this is, this is totally understandable, right? Putting all of us in her shoes. You're on the phone with the FBI. They are the ones that initiate the conversation of, hey, we hear you were sexually harassed. Is it true? Obviously, the first thing she thought was, oh my god, this means it happened to other women. That was her initial assumption. She did end up learning that no, they were only speaking of her and her experiences, but it isn't known to this day, who exactly leaked that information to the FBI. She did share with about four friends at the time of the incident. So back in the 80s, she had shared with a number of friends. You know, my boss talks about these really uncomfortable things with me in the workplace. It makes me very uncomfortable. It makes me feel very unsafe. So did one of them share it? I just I don't know. We don't know. And, again, this is another piece of the scandal is that the Senate Judiciary Committee knew of these allegations, and they were not going to bring them up. The only reason Anita Hill ended up being subpoenaed was because NPR, exactly that NPR leaked the story. And obviously, the Senate Judiciary Committee would look really bad if they didn't do something about it.
Kelsie Eckert 20:48
It's really interesting, I've been kind of thinking a lot about the different like, kind of, I mean, both legally, and then socially the difference, like the differences in racism and sexism, like if in the workplace is using, like, racial slurs and whatever. And again, this is a black man, but like, I think there's a different layer there. But um, but if he was, you know, doing something like that, that would look, for whatever reason, way worse than just like, I'm just talking about sexual stuff. That's nobody should be hearing about. But
Leah (Hashtag History) 21:26
I do think we not that it's an excuse at all for his behavior, because like, the things that he did were like, gross, they're really gross. But we have to take into context, the time period. Like I think, like Rachel said, after Anita Hills statements and everything, it became a little more accepted for women to step forward, but at the time, it was not. And, and it was also because of that it was commonplace for men to take advantage of that, of the fact that it was kind of all Hush, hush, they, you know, people would take advantage of that they would use their power to you know, have uncomfortable conversations or even worse with women who worked under them because they knew you're you're not going to be able to step forward with this. 7000 People in the, in the United States a year stepped forward before Anita Hill. Like, that's a very small number, when you look at it, knowing how much actual sexual harassment takes place in the workplace, annually.
Rachel (Hashtag History) 22:32
that was, yeah, that was a perfect segue in 1976, there actually was a survey that revealed that 80 something percent of people said that they had been sexually harassed in the workplace. But again, you know, putting that layer of context on all of this, this is 1991. And the phrase sexual harassment didn't even become a thing, really, until 1977, with three Supreme Court cases that officially ruled that sexual discrimination and workplace sexual harassment is illegal. So, you know, this isn't that much later, right? We're talking like a little little more than a decade later, sexual harassment still was not a term that people were very familiar with. And so when Anita Hill testified about her sexual harassment experiences, many people didn't take her seriously. And again, you know, speaking to people's misunderstanding about sexual harassment, whether that be because they truly didn't understand it, or they chose not to understand it. There came about the question of, you know, did Clarence Thomas ever actually sexually assault Hill? You know, did he grope her? Did he touch her butt? Did he grab her boobs? No, he didn't do that. But he did say and do sexual things that made her feel uncomfortable. And that's enough. You know, it just it was that topic of that's enough. You make me feel unsafe and uncomfortable. And actually, that's enough.
Kelsie Eckert 24:01
How long after her employment with him, Is this FBI call? Because that's another layer that's always thrown at these victims who are like, Oh, I was sexually harassed. And they're like, Yeah, but that was 20 years ago. You know, like, how long are we talking?
Leah (Hashtag History) 24:19
I believe it was eight years later, right. It was about eight years after she worked for him. And she had already moved on. I think she worked for him for about two years, she had moved on was teaching law, not working for him anymore. And then she sees in the news. He was getting nominated to be a Supreme Court justice. And so she got ready and expected a call from the FBI at that point.
Kelsie Eckert 24:43
So how does she go from this interview with the FBI to what we remember, you know, as this, you know, trial essentially in the Senate,
Leah (Hashtag History) 24:57
I believe it was like within a week right. That she had To go to DC and start, you know, testifying, so she had no time to prepare herself. She, I believe, was she representing herself, right Rachel?
Rachel (Hashtag History) 25:11
She, she did end up having legal representation, but it was like a very last minute, you know, decision like, oh my gosh, I guess I do need an attorney. You know, all of this was very rushed. Like I shared earlier, they had already completed the confirmation hearing, they reopened it because of this. So everything was expedited.
Leah (Hashtag History) 25:28
So some of the specific claims she made were, this is kind of the icky gross part. So just like warning, I guess trigger warning. Oh, just a few months after working for Clarence Thomas, he began asking her out, like constantly and she constantly had to tell him no over and over again. So that's where the uncomfortable things started happening. She said he would have very uncomfortable and graphic conversations with her in which he would talk about the kind of porn he watched. He also spoke of a particular porn star named Long Dong Silver that he very much enjoyed watching. He also regularly talked about his own genitalia and his own sexual preferences. And she also said there was one particular occasion upon which he was sitting at his desk, looking at a coke can in front of him and yelled, who has put pubic hair on my coke. It got so bad, not a shocker here that Hill was actually hospitalized in 1983 for work-stress related issues. So it did go so far as to cause her, you know, bodily harm, if you will.
Kelsie Eckert 26:37
Does he get married, like in those eight years?
Leah (Hashtag History) 26:41
I know he was married.
Rachel (Hashtag History) 26:43
He got, he was married. Yeah,
Leah (Hashtag History) 26:46
I don't know if he was married while she was working for him
Rachel (Hashtag History) 26:48
She was very upset. He, they both were dating with other people. They both, you know, were in like, dating relationships. But yeah, he got married before the confirmation hearing. And his wife actually continued to play a very large role in all of this. She was extremely upset with Anita Hill. So as recently as 2010, Clarence Thomas, his wife called Anita Hill and said, like, Alright, it's been 20 years, can you stop lying about, you know what you said? It's crazy.
Kelsie Eckert 27:20
What leads you to believe her. Because a lot of this is, is hearsay. And, and you know, and I tend to want to believe women, but then you have moments like this where it's actually two women, right? Like in conflict and the wife here who's trying to defend her spouse and Anita Hill and what, what is it about the Anita Hills story or testimony that seems really compelling to you?
Leah (Hashtag History) 27:51
I'm sure Rachel can give you more of the facts, but some very big ones that stand out to me as like, Okay. This clearly is her telling the truth is number one, Rachel had mentioned that she spoke to four friends, I believe it was about this when it was happening, and they all testified or I don't know if that they testified. Did they? Rachel?
Rachel (Hashtag History) 28:14
Some of them did. Yeah,
Leah (Hashtag History) 28:15
some of them actually testified saying like, yeah, eight years ago, she talked to me and told me how horrible, all these horrible things he was doing to her. So the fact that she went to her friends eight years prior, talking about this thing, it kind of makes it a little bit more, like realistic, or believable, I guess, if you will. And then also I believe she had a journal of during that time, where she also had some of the stuff written down in that journal.
Rachel (Hashtag History) 28:45
Yeah. So I think those things in addition to like you said, Kelsie, I just have kind of that, automatic believe women in my core. But if we do want to look at more of those hardcore facts, she had witnesses that she shared this information with, at the time contemporary examples of what she was going through in the workplace. She took a polygraph test, she passed the polygraph test. I know those are kind of here in there with how you feel about polygraph test, but it's still something you know, in addition to throw into this, and then, you know, just the overwhelming, vulnerable position that she put herself in by speaking up. She, we've already discussed that she was brilliant, and she had worked really, really hard to push herself, you know, academically and in her career, she was in a good settled position where she was the first tenured African American at her university. And so she's in this really great position. Why would she jeopardize that for a lie? Yeah. Why would she jeopardize all of these accomplishments for a lie? One of the quotes, I actually have a quote here from her because she was questioned over and over about if she was telling the truth or not. And she said, about, you know, they implied that she had something to gain from coming forward, right? She said, "I have nothing to gain. No one has promised me anything. I have nothing to gain here. This has been disruptive, disruptive of my life. And I've taken a number of personal risks. I've been threatened. And I have not gained anything except knowing that I came forward and did what I felt that I had an obligation to do. And that was to tell the truth." I think all of that's really compelling.
Kelsie Eckert 30:23
Yeah, absolutely. So what do you think that means? Like, I walk away from it, the Senate confirms him. And here's this guy who treated people like that sitting on our Supreme Court, like, what is when you think about that? What does that mean to you?
Leah (Hashtag History) 30:42
It's really disappointing. Really, really disappointing. We've come so far, and yet we haven't come even a single step. You know what I mean? Like, I think, socially, we all look at this now saying, like, oh, my gosh, how could that happen? But you have to take politics into account, you have to take all this stuff into account, especially at the time. And if I remember correctly, Rachel, you had said that a big thing was that a lot of people didn't want to not vote for him because they didn't want it to appear that they weren't voting for a black man. Yeah, just because he because of his ethnicity, his ethnicity or his race, so that they didn't want to appear racist. But by doing that, they then came off as very sexist, if you will.
Rachel (Hashtag History) 31:30
When we compare Anita Hill's testimony to Christine Blasey Ford's testimony just a few years ago, we can see the parallels. And unfortunately, there are very few differences. The differences that I see when I compare the two testimonies, we have come a long ways in. Prior to Anita Hill's testimony, several of the senators had already spoken out publicly saying they did not believe her. Prior to Christine Blasey Ford's testimony. There wasn't so much of that narrative and at her testimony, every single senator whether they believed her or not thanked her for being there and apologized to her for what all this publicity had done to her and her family. And then people such as Kamala Harris, who was sitting on the committee told her I believe you and others said, I believe you, that did not happen for Anita Hill. And so, you know, unfortunately, we know the end result of Christine Blasey Ford's testimony that Brett Kavanaugh was still confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice. So have we come that far? I don't know. Even just hearing from someone on the committee though. Thank you for being here. I'm sorry for everything that's happened to you. And I believe you. That's huge. And that didn't happen for Anita Hill.
Kelsie Eckert 32:50
It's interesting that dynamic and I think again, like race, gender, these like these things, and you know, our legal system still puts racism, and as it should as like, one of the highest offenses, right? Like it is a really in terms of like social behavior. It's a really high issue. And it's interesting, that the perception that Leah that you were talking about, like not wanting to be, not wanting to appear, you know, like you're anti black or something like that. And also just how limiting like, one thing that kills me in both of these cases is it's like, is there not another qualified black man for this job? Like, there are great black men out there who probably didn't sexually harass, people, like go find one. And and then, you know, Brett Kavanaugh, like he's not the only smart white lawyer that can
Rachel (Hashtag History) 33:48
Right, right. one of Anita Hills, like iconic quotes to come from this incident, which she said "Clarence Thomas had a race, I had a gender." Which, I mean, that is jarring that that comment, you know, in her perception of the incident, it is what you said that she as a woman was not regarded, you know, highly, well respected. She, her character was assassinated as a woman. And just some of the questions that the senators, you know, asked her when she was giving her testimony. They're just so outrageous. For example, a Republican senator from Pennsylvania, he asked Hill how she could be so upset about Thomas discussing things such as large breasts in the workplace, because this is a quote from him. "This is not too bad, women's large breasts. This is a word we use all the time," as if you know, implying that she shouldn't be upset that men discuss women's large breasts around her in the workplace because they weren't grabbing your butt. They weren't touching your breasts, you know, so why are you making such a big deal of the fact they were talking about it? And I think you know, it just again is like climate and context of here we are in 2021. And if there were men in my workplace discussing women's large breasts near me, I mean, that would be an immediate sexual harassment violation, right? And it just was this misunderstanding or, again, like I shared before a lack or desire to understand that discussing these types of things in the workplace is unacceptable. Sexual harassment is illegal. And another thing that, you know, another Republican senator, this one from Alabama, he asked Hill if she was a scorned woman, or if she had a militant attitude, if she had martyr complex, or this one is outrageous if she was simply coming forward with these allegations, because she thought it would make her a hero in the civil rights movements. It's just so awful.
Kelsie Eckert 35:58
Instead of like, yeah, when did this happen? Where were you? Like, just ask a question. those are accusing questions. They're not questions. Yeah. This poor woman.
Rachel (Hashtag History) 36:12
Oh, and she, she just was so amazing too if you watch her testimony, she is mind blowing.
Leah (Hashtag History) 36:20
her composure is, like so calm. It's so professional, which I as like a fiery, easy to cry, Leo admire. Like, I can't even understand it. I don't fathom how she kept her cool throughout this whole thing, especially when she had very powerful men essentially pointing at her saying, like, You're a liar. How dare you say this throughout, throughout this whole thing?
Rachel (Hashtag History) 36:48
I really encourage anyone and everyone, you can find if you just put Anita Hill's testimony into YouTube, just to watch her and be amazed by what a powerful and brave and composed and brilliant woman she is.
Kelsie Eckert 37:01
There are so many ways to, to teach history. Where do you feel like her story should come in? What themes, what, you know? Is it just sort of like the the Bush presidency? Or do you think it belongs in a certain topic or or era?
Leah (Hashtag History) 37:20
I personally think it should be addressed in. I know, it's kind of like an extension of it. But the civil rights movement, for sure. It's definitely women's rights, the sexual harassment, this, you know, kind of category and history, if you will, like, like Rachel said, like it that had just become a well known term, just over 10 years prior to this case. So it was certainly a succession of that movement, if you will.
Rachel (Hashtag History) 37:51
Yeah. And then to piggyback off of that, then, I would say, so I'm not an educator, Kelsie. So you might have to kind of help me out here and direct me on the correct path. But I think this has to be in a course for boys and girls, men and women, this is something that, you know, I wouldn't necessarily just put it in like women's studies, or you know, in these more niche categories, because this is something everyone needs to learn about everyone.
Kelsie Eckert 38:24
Absolutely. I'm not a fan of women's studies. And that's actually I don't know if you heard this on our podcast, but Gloria Steinem in her book she talks about women's studies and black, African American Studies and Indigenous Studies, and she's like, these courses should better be risky history. Well, she's, she's like this is remedial studies, like this is the stuff you should have learned. And you didn't learn. Yeah. And, and that's why we have to have these other categories. But I 100% agree, it needs to be integrated. Yeah, I agree.
Rachel (Hashtag History) 38:59
Anita Hill, is something that needs to be taught to young boys and to men, because that is the narrative that circles the story is men not believing women, men, not, you know, recognizing that they don't have the lived experiences of a woman and recognizing that they can't possibly understand the experiences of you know, women in the workplace when they haven't lived that life. Right. And that isn't to say, you know, we touched on this in our episode, that isn't to say that men don't experience sexual harassment because of course they do. And it's not to say that men don't experience hostile work environments, because of course they do. But there are experiences that are unique to women. And we see in the Anita Hill story that time and time again, men refuse to recognize that.
Kelsie Eckert 39:51
Yeah, and almost it sounds like the senators were like, Yeah, that's totally normal conversation like why are you?. Like it's almost like they're committing their own guilt.
Rachel (Hashtag History) 40:00
Yeah, yeah, exactly. That's exactly I was gonna say is that obviously tells you what their work environments are like, and all of their, all of their female colleagues are like, oh, my god. That's speculation on my part. I don't know that, but I can imagine them being like, yeah, you're right. You do talk about women's large breasts in the workplace. to kind of wrap all of this up. The testimony that Anita Hill gave in 1991, before the Senate Judiciary Committee changed her life forever. In her own words, she said that it changed the way that she was perceived by the world and even changed the way that she perceived the world. She had hoped to return to a normal life and go back to Oklahoma, where she would continue teaching law. But obviously, this was not possible. She was followed by the press, she was accused in public of being a liar. She was threatened and she ended up having, she ended up having to leave, you know, resigned from the university that she was teaching at because Republicans in her state, worked so hard to get her fired. She was not able to remove herself from the incident, even years and years later, intentionally or not, though, Anita Hill inspired women. So like I mentioned, you know, at the beginning of the episode, just a year after Hill's testimony, the EEOC had a 50% increase in complaints filed, the year following Hill's testimony became known as Year of the Woman. So 1992 That's when 24 women were elected to the House of Representatives and four women were elected to the Senate. The year after that, Leah and my home state of California, became the first state to be represented in the Senate by two women. So nowadays, Hill's working in civil rights and employment law. She's specializes in all the things, she, she specializes in women's studies and Gender Studies and Social Policy. And she speaks at events regularly about, you know, gender and race. In her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, she was asked, had you not been contacted would you not have come forward? And her response to that was, "I cannot say that I would have" because in you know, her own words, she was simply raising a legal claim she was informing about conduct, she just cared about doing what was right. You know, as a professor Kelsie, maybe you can relate to this as a teacher that she cared so much about her students and about showing her students that you should always have the bravery to do what's right, that really was her motivation for speaking up and speaking her truth. And I know for a fact that she has inspired women, you know, for the decades following her testimony, and that she will continue to inspire women for generations to come.
Kelsie Eckert 42:41
But it's interesting, just the context with me too, and time's up and all those things. And just to know that this woman did this, before there was a movement, you know, before there were people
Leah (Hashtag History) 42:51
20 years ago. Yeah.
Rachel (Hashtag History) 42:54
And that's why the pins that Leah and I both have, we're both wearing them right now as we're recording this episode to represent Anita Hill. When you look up, you know, like, I don't know what the word is. I want, memorabilia? A lot of it says like our pin say, I still believe Anita Hill. It's not necessarily I believe women, I believe Anita Hill, it's I still believe her. I believed her then and I believe her now in the wake of the me too movement. You know, I still believe her. I think that's a really really important message.
Kelsie Eckert 43:28
I am just so grateful to the two of you guys lending me an hour of your time and joining us.
Rachel (Hashtag History) 43:35
Thank you so much and especially letting us have the opportunity to talk about Anita Hill she I'm obsessed with her as, as I've said 25 times so any opportunity to talk about her, we are all there for it
Kelsie Eckert 43:48
is your podcast. I know you have a website, is your podcast on like anchor or anything like that.
Leah (Hashtag History) 43:53
It's pretty much anywhere you find podcasts so you can find us on anchor you can find us on Spotify, Apple podcast, we are pretty much everywhere.
Thanks so much for listening to remedial Herstory the other 50%. Please subscribe, rate and review wherever you listen to your podcasts to bring more voices to the conversation. We really appreciate that effort. Until next time
Hashtag History Podcast is run and hosted by Rachel and Leah.
Rachel has been a long time history nerd. She studied History as her major in college. Leah did not study history in college but does enjoy learning about the past.
Hashtag History focuses on histories greatest stories on controversy, conspiracy, and corruption.