How Anita Hill forever changed the way we talk about sexual harassment

Flashback: Anita Hill's explosive opening statement

Before Harvey Weinstein, before Roger Ailes, before #metoo — there was Anita Hill.

In October 1991, Hill testified about sexual harassment she allegedly endured from Clarence Thomas, her former boss at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and then a Supreme Court nominee. Before an all-male Senate Judiciary Committee, she recounted the allegations, sparking a national conversation about sexual harassment: what it is, how it’s defined and whom it affects.

‘; var storytext = document.getElementById(‘storytext’); var heightToSkip = 0; function resetValues() { totalHeight = 0; targetChildElement = null; }
// Check if story is in the blacklist of articles to remove smartassets // [2017.07.27] Results of a one-off request from r.barbieri if(BLACKLIST[location.pathname] === true) { return } if(storytext == null) { console.log(“Error finding storytext element for SA embed”); return; } for ( i = 0; i 0) { heightToSkip -= storytext.childNodes[i].clientHeight; resetValues(); } else if(heightToSkip minHeight && targetChildElement != null) { //console.log(“total height = ” + totalHeight); //console.log(“childNode = ” + targetChildElement); storytext.childNodes[targetChildElement].insertAdjacentHTML(‘afterend’, smartAssetDiv); smartasset = document.getElementById(‘smartasset-article’); smartasset.style.float = ‘left’; // allows module to have text float to right smartasset.style.marginRight =’20px’; smartasset.style.marginBottom =’25px’; //console.log(storytext.childNodes[targetChildElement]); //SMARTASSET.setDivIndex(targetChildElement); SMARTASSET.setSmartAssetScript(); /* bail out since we’re done */ break; } } /* div with id=”smartassetcontainer”. Sanity check to only embed once */ else if (storytext.childNodes[i].nodeName.toLowerCase() === ‘div’ && storytext.childNodes[i].id !== “undefined” && storytext.childNodes[i].id === “smartassetcontainer”) { break; } /* div with id=”ie_column” */ else if (storytext.childNodes[i].nodeName.toLowerCase() === ‘div’ && storytext.childNodes[i].id !== “undefined” && storytext.childNodes[i].id === “ie_column”) { resetValues(); } /* embeds from twitter, facebook, youtube */ else if (storytext.childNodes[i].nodeName.toLowerCase() === ‘div’ && storytext.childNodes[i].classList.contains(’embed’)) { resetValues(); } /* cnn video player */ else if (storytext.childNodes[i].nodeName.toLowerCase() === ‘div’ && storytext.childNodes[i].classList.contains(‘cnnplayer’)) { resetValues(); } /* images */ else if (storytext.childNodes[i].nodeName.toLowerCase() === ‘img’) { resetValues(); } /* images stored in figure tags */ else if (storytext.childNodes[i].nodeName.toLowerCase() === ‘figure’) { if(storytext.childNodes[i].clientWidth

Thomas was eventually confirmed to the Supreme Court. But after Hill stepped into the spotlight in 1991, her experience forever changed how we talk about sexual harassment in the workplace.

Related: Are older generations more tolerant of sexual harassment?

A few years before the Anita Hill hearings,18-year-old Jaclyn Friedman started a summer job at an auction company. She she knew she had to avoid the boss, who was frequently trying to find excuses to get her alone.

When she discussed the situation with her mother, she remembers her mother encouraging her to “do her best” to weather the experience.

“There was never a conversation about filing charges or getting me out of there,” Friedman says. “I think that she accepted that it was a thing that might happen, and that we were powerless to a certain extent.”

Watching Anita Hill on television in 1991 was Friedman’s transformative moment — it showed her what she’d experienced was not normal workplace behavior.

“That’s when I came to understand, ‘Oh, what my boss had done to me was not OK, and it wasn’t inevitable,'” Friedman says. “It really was not a thing that had occurred to me before then.”

A decade later, when University of Maine psychology professor Amy Blackstone first began researching sexual harassment, she interviewed men and women about their workplace experiences. The Hill and the Thomas hearings kept coming up.

“I was surprised by the number, without any prompting from me, who noted the impact the Thomas hearing had on their awareness of harassment as an issue, and the impact it had in terms of their reflections on their own experiences,” she says.

Related: Women in the Fortune 500: 64 CEOs in half a century

Sexual harassment is an age-old issue. But for many, there wasn’t a lot of clarity as to what that behavior looked like or what laws or policies could protect women — until Hill.

In 1975, a group of women at Cornell University created the term “sexual harassment” to define these same behaviors they saw in inappropriate work environments. But the term still wasn’t widely used in everyday conversation.

For two more decades, civil rights lawyers pushed cases through the courts, but women were unable to sue for damages, crucial for many who were risking their jobs to come forward.

Just several months before Hill’s testimony, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a decision in Ellison v. Brady, the first case to establish the “reasonable woman” or “reasonable worker” standard, which revolutionized sexual harassment law. The decision suggested that courts try these cases from the perspective of the accuser — not the defendant, as had previously been the case. It also incentivized employers to provide sexual harassment training.

But people still struggled to understand how they could define the behavior — and women continued to struggle daily as small comments, jokes and more went unchecked.

Then Hill shared her experiences with a rapt television audience. The media attention, legal history professor Merrick Rossein says, changed everything.

“Her testimony and the attacks on her resulted in a profound national dialogue and inquiry into sexual harassment in the American workplace,” Rossein says. “Most people had no idea. They didn’t know what the term meant. They’d never heard of it. So after her testimony and the rise in the women’s anger, there were surveys and studies throughout the American workplace.”

And from this combined rise in awareness and anger, Rossein says, sexual harassment awareness progressed considerably. According to the EEOC, in the five years after Hill’s testimony, sexual harassment complaints filed to the office more than doubled.

Related: Does your gender limit your opportunities at work? Depends on who you ask

In a recent op-ed for The New York Daily News, Hill herself says she still hears from women suffering in silence. Harassment scandals continue to rock Silicon Valley CEOs and Hollywood heavyweights. And even as some women come forward, many stay silent for fear of retaliation.

“The most current surveys show that although we’ve made progress and that many corporations have developed pretty good policies and there’s been more training — the courageous women who complain remain the tip of the iceberg,” Rossein says.

Do you feel there are generational differences in how we talk about sexual harassment? Tell us about it here and you could be featured in an upcoming story on CNNMoney.

CNNMoney (New York) First published October 30, 2017: 3:56 PM ET

The following two tabs change content below.
Nino Plevnik
I am in the Internet marketing area for some time now. I mostly deal with Affiliate Marketing and Domain Flipping. It took me a while until I figured it out. Now I want to transfer my knowledge to beginners, so they can start earn money online as quickly (and painlessly) as possible.
Nino Plevnik
About Nino Plevnik 171 Articles
I am in the Internet marketing area for some time now. I mostly deal with Affiliate Marketing and Domain Flipping. It took me a while until I figured it out. Now I want to transfer my knowledge to beginners, so they can start earn money online as quickly (and painlessly) as possible.

77 Comments

  1. I think that what you published made a ton of sense.
    But, think on this, suppose you added a little content?
    I mean, I don’t wish to tell you how to run your
    website, but suppose you added a title that grabbed a person’s attention? I mean How Anita Hill
    forever changed the way we talk about sexual harassment – How to Make Money Online is a little vanilla.
    You might look at Yahoo’s front page and watch how they write post titles to get people
    interested. You might add a video or a related picture or two to grab readers interested about everything’ve written. In my opinion,
    it might make your posts a little bit more interesting.

  2. Just desire to say your article is as astounding.
    The clarity in your post is simply spectacular and i
    can assume you’re an expert on this subject. Fine with your permission allow me to grab your feed to keep updated with
    forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please continue
    the rewarding work.

  3. Howdy would you mind letting me know which webhost you’re utilizing?

    I’ve loaded your blog in 3 different internet browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot quicker then most.
    Can you recommend a good internet hosting provider at a fair
    price? Thanks, I appreciate it!

  4. Terrific post however , I was wanting to know if you could write
    a litte more on this topic? I’d be very thankful if you
    could elaborate a little bit further. Kudos!

  5. I don’t know whether it’s just me or if everybody else encountering issues with your
    website. It appears as if some of the written text within your content are running off the
    screen. Can somebody else please comment and let me know if this is happening to them too?
    This may be a issue with my web browser because I’ve had this happen before.
    Thanks

  6. We absolutely love your blog and find nearly all of your post’s
    to be precisely what I’m looking for. Does one offer guest writers to write content for you?

    I wouldn’t mind creating a post or elaborating on some of the
    subjects you write with regards to here. Again, awesome web log!

  7. Hello! Quick question that’s totally off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile
    friendly? My website looks weird when browsing from my apple iphone.
    I’m trying to find a template or plugin that might be able to fix this issue.
    If you have any recommendations, please share. Thank you!

  8. Pretty great post. I simply stumbled upon your weblog and wished to say that I’ve really loved browsing your blog posts.
    In any case I’ll be subscribing on your rss feed and I am hoping you write again soon!

  9. I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme.
    Did you create this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you?
    Plz answer back as I’m looking to construct my own blog and would
    like to know where u got this from. cheers

  10. Undeniably believe that which you stated. Your favorite justification appeared to be on the net
    the simplest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I definitely get annoyed while people think about worries that they plainly do not know about.
    You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also defined out the whole thing
    without having side-effects , people can take a signal.
    Will probably be back to get more. Thanks

  11. I have been exploring for a bit for any high quality articles or weblog posts in this kind of area .

    Exploring in Yahoo I ultimately stumbled upon this
    site. Studying this information So i’m glad to show that I’ve a very excellent uncanny feeling I found out exactly what I needed.
    I such a lot surely will make sure to do not fail to remember this site and provides it a glance
    regularly.

  12. Thanks for any other informative blog. Where else
    may I am getting that kind of info written in such a perfect means?
    I have a venture that I am just now working on, and I have been on the glance out
    for such info.

  13. Greetings from Idaho! I’m bored to tears at work so I decided to check
    out your blog on my iphone during lunch break.

    I enjoy the info you present here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home.
    I’m surprised at how fast your blog loaded on my cell phone ..
    I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyhow, good site!

  14. Hello! Would you mind if I share your blog with my twitter group?
    There’s a lot of people that I think would really appreciate
    your content. Please let me know. Thank you

  15. Hello! I could have sworn I’ve been to this web
    site before but after browsing through many of the articles I realized it’s new to me.
    Regardless, I’m certainly delighted I stumbled upon it and
    I’ll be bookmarking it and checking back often!

  16. This design is incredible! You definitely know how to keep a reader entertained.

    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Great job.
    I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented
    it. Too cool!

  17. Do you mind if I quote a few of your posts as long as I provide credit and sources back to your
    site? My blog is in the exact same niche as yours and my users would really
    benefit from some of the information you present here.
    Please let me know if this okay with you.
    Regards!

  18. It’s actually a cool and helpful piece of information.
    I am satisfied that you shared this helpful information with us.

    Please keep us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

  19. Having read this I thought it was rather informative.
    I appreciate you taking the time and energy to put this informative
    article together. I once again find myself spending way too much time both reading and leaving comments.
    But so what, it was still worthwhile!

  20. Good day very cool blog!! Guy .. Excellent .. Amazing ..

    I will bookmark your web site and take the feeds additionally?
    I am glad to search out numerous helpful information here in the publish, we’d like develop more techniques on this regard, thanks for
    sharing. . . . . .

  21. Wow, marvelous blog format! How long have you been running a blog
    for? you make running a blog glance easy. The full glance of your web site is
    great, as smartly as the content material!

  22. What i don’t realize is in reality how you are no longer really much more
    well-liked than you might be now. You’re so intelligent.
    You recognize thus considerably relating to this topic, made me personally
    believe it from so many varied angles. Its like men and women don’t seem to
    be interested unless it’s one thing to accomplish with Lady
    gaga! Your individual stuffs excellent. Always maintain it up!

  23. you’re truly a good webmaster. The website loading speed is amazing.

    It kind of feels that you are doing any distinctive trick.
    In addition, The contents are masterwork. you’ve performed
    a wonderful job in this matter!

  24. Hello everybody, here every person is sharing these kinds of experience, thus it’s fastidious
    to read this website, and I used to visit this web site everyday.

  25. Appreciating the hard work you put into your site and detailed information you present.
    It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same out of date rehashed material.

    Fantastic read! I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS
    feeds to my Google account.

  26. I simply couldn’t depart your site before suggesting that I actually loved the standard information a person provide
    on your guests? Is going to be again frequently in order to investigate cross-check new posts

  27. I was recommended this web site by my cousin. I’m not sure whether this
    post is written by him as nobody else know such detailed about my difficulty.

    You are incredible! Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*