Against a backdrop of sex, politics, and race, “Anita” reveals the true, intimate story of a woman who spoke truth to power.
‘Sexual harassment:’ unwelcome sexual advances made by an employer or superior, especially when compliance is made a condition of continued employment or advancement.” Today, each and every one of us understands what constitutes sexual harassment. I mean it’s pretty self explanatory, right? Back in the eighties though, and I’m sure way before then, if your boss came on to you or started harassing you in a very unwelcome and sexual manner, you couldn’t just walk down to the H.R. department and file a complaint like you can today. Back then, if you were a victim of sexual harassment, you pretty much kept it to yourself. People would say nothing for fear of potential retaliation and possibly losing their job.
In 1991, President George H.W. Bush nominated Clarence Thomas, then a federal Circuit Judge, to succeed retiring Associate Justice Thurgood Marshall on the Supreme Court. With little resistance to his nomination, even though he had only been a judge for slightly more than one year, a report of a private interview of Ms. Hill by the F.B.I. was leaked to the press. The hearings were then reopened, and Hill was called to publicly testify against Mr. Thomas. She claimed that back in the early 1980s, while working for Mr. Thomas as his assistant at the Department of Education and the EEOC, that he sexually harassed her. She insisted that on many occasions, he told obscene stories and jokes and would tell her about pornographic movies which included group sex, animal sex and rape scenes. He also asked her out socially on a regular basis and after turning him down, he would then talk about the size of his genitalia and what she was missing out on.
She was subpoenaed to Washington where she had to testify in front of the U.S. Senate, at that time made up of mostly white men, who would go on to criticize and lambast her because she came forward to tell the truth when nobody else would. It was so preposterous and hard to believe that she was being treated like a common criminal, standing in front of her judge, waiting for her sentencing when they were the ones who brought her to Washington in the first place. Of course, Mr. Thomas denied everything and inferred that because he was a black man, he stated that he was a victim of a “high-tech lynching for uppity blacks by white liberals who were seeking to block a black conservative from taking a seat on the Supreme Court”.
Ms. Hill took a polygraph test and according to a professional expert, passed with flying colors while Mr. Thomas refused to take one himself. It was made known, very early on, because of the Senate’s treatment of Ms. Hill, that nothing would happen to Mr. Thomas. And it didn’t. Not even a slap on the wrist. Ms. Hill tried to go back to her normal life in Oklahoma but with the press and photographers following her every move, she eventually moved to Massachusetts where she went on to become an advocate for sexual harassment and women’s rights. Highly recommended.
In theaters March 21st