Nearly 25 years after Anita Hill accused her former boss Clarence Thomas — then a Supreme Court nominee — of making sexual overtures, sexual harassment is once again leading the news. Women are organizing around safety problems on college campuses, entertainer Bill Cosby has been accused of sexual assault by more than 60 women, and more than 20 women claim former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes harassed them at work.
On Wednesday, Hill was interviewed on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” telling host Steve Inskeep that we’ve come a long way since her 1991 testimony on Capitol Hill that led to her ostracism: Harassment “is now part of the public conversation,” she said.
Hill, a professor at Brandeis University, had a number of interesting observations to share in the wide-ranging interview, about the shifting consciousness around sexual harassment. The events of 1991 opened a dialogue, she said, “and it exposed a lot of the ways of trashing women that are routinely done when women do come forward.”
“But I also think that it makes people aware that how, in these situations where there is extreme hierarchy and you have an individual who is well-regarded on many levels, that it is very difficult for women to come forward because in many ways they don’t have anyone to report to who can actually do anything about it, who can change the behavior of this powerful person.”
The $40 million severance package said to have been paid to Ailes “sends a very bad signal,” she added, suggesting Fox News take it back.
Although the more recent cases reinforce the depth of the problem, and the terrible treatment she was subjected to in 1991 could have acted as a strong deterrent to affected women, Hill lauds the women who continue to come forward “in record numbers.”
“And that, I believe, is a good sign.”
Watch a panel from the 2016 Women in the World New York Summit on how Anita Hill’s sexual harassment case shaped our handling of the issue today:
Read the full story at NPR.