Kavanaugh accuser draws Anita Hill comparisons

The drama surrounding Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court justice nomination is drawing comparisons to the Anita Hill controversy that gripped the country more than 25 years ago.

Posted: Sep 19, 2018 11:37 AM
Updated: Sep 19, 2018 11:52 AM

Looking back, Anita Hill was the original silence breaker. In her testimony to Congress 27 years ago, she noted "it would have been more comfortable to remain silent" than to come forward with her story about sexual harassment in the workplace involving then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, who denied her allegations.

As she said then, "I felt that I had to tell the truth." But at the end of the day, she paid the price, and she lost.

Professor Hill endured hours of testimony by US senators who doubted her and a nation that discounted her. She was vilified by men and women, Republicans and Democrats. Officials at the university where she taught at the time tried to revoke her tenure. And when it was done, Clarence Thomas was still confirmed to the US Supreme Court.

It was a historical moment that showed women around the world the consequences of speaking out. Today, amidst the ascendancy of #MeToo movement, Christine Blasey Ford has come forward with allegations of attempted sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Whether it was Anita Hill almost 30 years ago, or Christine Blasey Ford today, we must recognize the cost women pay when they come forward.

Last year I shared my own story about a well-known man in a position of power who acted inappropriately with me during a job interview, which ultimately altered the direction of my career. I decided to speak out many years later because I saw that my silence meant he continued this behavior for many years with other women.

After I spoke out, many more women shared similar experiences about this man. Our shared experience led to forming Press Forward, an organization whose goal is to end to end harassment, elevate women and create civil and respectful work environments for women to do their best work in journalism.

Since then, I've spoken with dozens of women -- from interns and waitresses to C-suite executives -- who have told me their own stories of assault and harassment. Some have been able to move on, others remain deeply traumatized. Many have kept their experiences close and told few, if any, confidants about them.

The last two years have been a reckoning regarding the breadth and depth of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. But speaking out doesn't come without personal risk. Every time someone speaks out about being victimized, it comes at a cost.

Many brave women have told their stories publicly, but so many others are still hesitant to come forward. They fear professional retribution, or their economic circumstances require them to accept settlements at the cost of absolute silence.

Many women have chosen not to speak out because they risk retaliation and backlash, both professionally and personally. Others chose secrecy out of shame. And many fear others won't believe them. Reliving a traumatic event is hard and painful. Being disbelieved, disregarded, or retaliated against is hard and painful -- especially if the women have partners and young children.

Back then, one of the Senators questioning Hill asked her whether she ever considered making a complaint at the time, and if so, "how could you allow this kind of reprehensible conduct to go on right in the headquarters without doing something about it?" Partisans further challenged Professor Hill's credibility by arguing that a true victim would have spoken up sooner.

The same thing is happening today, and it's tragic. Today people are asking why it took Dr. Ford 30 years to come forward, as well as questioning the validity of her claims. Both Professor Hill and Dr. Ford took an extraordinary step to speak out, knowing the backlash they would have to face.

And yet, despite what Anita Hill went through almost three decades ago, Christine Blasey Ford opted not to stay silent, in spite of her initial desire to remain anonymous.

Kavanaugh has denied the allegations in Professor Ford's story and a hearing is scheduled for Monday. The questions remain: Having come forward, will Ford have to endure the vitriol that Anita Hill did? Will she find, in this age of #MeToo, support for her telling her story? Or will she too be vilified? Will people believe her or will it cost her all credibility?

You may not believe Ford's account, but do not discredit her story because she did not come forward sooner -- and publicly. Assault is traumatic. It is traumatic when it happens; it is traumatic 30 years after it happens.

If and when Ford testifies to the Senate Judiciary Committee, any dignified, empathic soul who believes her story will understand that she is exposing her very being to the world. She will be reliving a trauma (that she revealed to a therapist many years ago) to the country and the 24-hour news cycle.

Put yourself in her position -- its scrutiny, its vulnerability. Would you open up your most harbored and private pain to a panel of unfamiliar powerful faces and an international television audience? Would you subject yourself to the photographers, the endless calls from journalists, reporters showing up on your doorstep, and the percussive questioning that is certain to come?

Professor Ford's coming forward should only be seen as brave. It comes at the cost of being victimized all over again -- but this time with a nation watching her every word and move, and then peeling it apart over and over again.

I hope Professor Ford, if she appears next week, is welcomed -- not with the hostility, disbelief and castigation Professor Hill endured, but with a measured sense of understanding for an incredibly courageous woman.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 313166

Reported Deaths: 7228
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21496257
Hinds20294414
Harrison17814309
Rankin13573278
Jackson13411246
Madison10066217
Lee9962173
Jones8364163
Forrest7649152
Lauderdale7181240
Lowndes6370145
Lamar621686
Lafayette6171118
Washington5323133
Bolivar4797132
Oktibbeha461498
Panola4561105
Pearl River4499145
Marshall4397103
Warren4380121
Pontotoc419572
Monroe4100133
Union409076
Neshoba4026176
Lincoln3950110
Hancock377786
Leflore3487125
Sunflower335790
Tate332484
Pike3301105
Scott315373
Alcorn311968
Yazoo310769
Itawamba299477
Copiah296465
Simpson294788
Coahoma294379
Tippah287768
Prentiss279560
Adams269582
Marion268880
Leake266273
Wayne262341
Grenada260386
Covington256381
George246848
Newton246061
Winston226881
Tishomingo225967
Jasper220848
Attala214173
Chickasaw207157
Holmes188673
Clay184754
Stone182033
Tallahatchie178140
Clarke177879
Calhoun170132
Yalobusha163337
Smith162234
Walthall133845
Greene130333
Lawrence128323
Montgomery126742
Noxubee126734
Perry125938
Amite122842
Carroll121728
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis106932
Tunica104826
Claiborne102230
Benton99125
Humphreys96133
Kemper95428
Franklin83623
Quitman80216
Choctaw76118
Wilkinson66930
Jefferson65428
Sharkey50317
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 530325

Reported Deaths: 10966
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson763971520
Mobile40908804
Madison34717503
Tuscaloosa25730452
Montgomery24314588
Shelby23401249
Baldwin21107307
Lee15856171
Calhoun14488314
Morgan14282279
Etowah13819353
Marshall12210223
Houston10557280
Elmore10044205
Limestone9954150
Cullman9649193
St. Clair9644242
Lauderdale9419241
DeKalb8825185
Talladega8214175
Walker7223277
Autauga6918108
Jackson6804112
Blount6651137
Colbert6292134
Coffee5506119
Dale4828111
Russell440638
Chilton4279112
Franklin425582
Covington4118118
Tallapoosa4019152
Escambia393276
Chambers3559123
Dallas3547151
Clarke350861
Marion3113100
Pike310577
Lawrence299898
Winston274072
Bibb260464
Marengo249264
Geneva249077
Pickens234160
Barbour230757
Hale222677
Butler215969
Fayette212062
Henry188744
Cherokee184445
Randolph179941
Monroe177340
Washington167039
Macon158750
Clay156156
Crenshaw152057
Cleburne148741
Lamar141934
Lowndes138653
Wilcox127030
Bullock123041
Conecuh110129
Perry107526
Coosa107128
Sumter104332
Greene92334
Choctaw60424
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