Anita Hill in Austin: ‘We are ready to end sexual harassment’


Highlights

Anita Hill asks lawmakers to move on laws that protect women and men in the military from sexual assault.

Anita Hill was among the keynote speakers at the Texas Conference for Women.

Lawyer, civil rights advocate and educator Anita Hill, who raised sexual harassment claims against a Supreme Court nominee more than two decades ago, asked attendees at the Texas Conference for Women on Thursday to share their own stories.

After a recent wave of women have come forward to denounce sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood, Hill said in her keynote speech at the Austin Convention Center that “we knew somewhere in our hearts that this day would come.”

Hill, who teaches social policy, law and women’s studies at Brandeis University, issued a call to action, asking business leaders who have clout in their jobs to use it to create a safe system for victims, and she chastised workplaces that offered millions in severance pay to abusers. Hill also encouraged women to call, write or email lawmakers to move on laws to protect women and men in the armed forces from sexual assault.

“The energy and even anger of this moment says we are ready to end sexual harassment,” she said. “We are ready to take on the deniers and enablers and ready to share our truth.”

RELATED: Austin official resigns in wake of women training scandal

In 1991, Hill famously testified that then-Supreme Court Justice nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her and was unfit for confirmation. Thomas was confirmed, and Hill’s character was attacked, and she credits her family for carrying her “through the darkest days.” Thomas denied the allegations, calling the controversy “a national disgrace,” and critics attacked Hill’s character. Thomas was confirmed by the Senate.

Hill credits her family for carrying her “through the darkest days.”

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, about 75 percent of employees who speak out against workplace mistreatment face some form of retaliation. “I’ve been a victim,” Hill said Thursday. “It’s not a sought-after position.”

It should not take scores of women coming forward, Hill said, to believe one woman. “Our word is as trustworthy as our abusers,” she said.

Hill thanked the women who stepped forward during the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s for “bringing us where we are today” despite the lack of hashtags or social media then available to raise awareness about sexual harassment.

RELATED: What is sexual harassment in the workplace and how to report it

Now, Hill encourages women to not only speak out in the workplace about sexual harassment but other discrimination, such as being denied promotions or receiving biased performance reviews.

“Women deserve to be valued and respected in our workplaces, schools and our streets,” she said.

The annual women’s conference, which attracts about 7,500 attendees, also featured speakers such as award-winning actress Viola Davis and Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg.

READ: Three Austin women redefining role of grandmother



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Police specialty pay set to expire amid ongoing labor contract talks
Police specialty pay set to expire amid ongoing labor contract talks

Special stipend pay that was restored to Austin police after the police union’s city contract expired is set to end Thursday, removing hundreds of dollars monthly from the paychecks of some officers. The pending expiration of the special pay, given for such attributes as foreign language proficiency or college degrees, left a police union leader...
Man who drowned in Barton Springs Pool last week was 20, police say
Man who drowned in Barton Springs Pool last week was 20, police say

Austin police have identified a man who died after being pulled from Barton Springs Pool on Thursday as 20-year-old Carlo Hurtado. Rescue crews pulled Hurtado from the water and called first responders around 5:45 p.m. It was unclear how long Hurtado had been underwater before being found, authorities said. Another man, identified by police as Israel...
Four races to watch in Tuesday’s runoff elections
Four races to watch in Tuesday’s runoff elections

Runoff elections, ending the 2018 primary season, are being held Tuesday across the state. The polls are open from 7 a.m to 7 p.m. Voters can participate in a runoff if they participated in that party’s primary or didn’t vote at all in the primary. Here are four races to watch.: Valdez v. White: Who will Democrats nominate as their candidate...
Texas given 45 days to fix motor-voter violation; Paxton appeals
Texas given 45 days to fix motor-voter violation; Paxton appeals

A federal judge has given Texas officials 45 days to correct an online voter registration system that was found to violate federal law, rejecting state arguments that the ordered changes cannot be accomplished before Dec. 1. U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia said the tight deadline was justified because the November election is looming, state officials...
JUST IN: School bus, truck crash in Williamson County, sheriff says
JUST IN: School bus, truck crash in Williamson County, sheriff says

Williamson County sheriff’s deputies responded to a crash involving a school bus on RM 620 at Pearson Ranch Road on Monday afternoon. The crash happened around 2:28 p.m., officials said Authorities shut down northbound lanes of the road while they worked to clear the area of wreckage. No children were on the bus at the time of the crash, the...
More Stories