How Anita Hill Changed My Life


It has been 20 years since Anita Hill, a young black law professor, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court.

Why did she speak out on October 11, 1991?

I Felt I Had To Tell The Truth

“I felt that I had to tell the truth. I could not keep silent,” was her response on October 10, 2011, when interviewed by Gwen Ifell on PRI’s The World.

The truth that she felt compelled to tell was about how, as an attorney adviser and special assistant to Clarence Thomas, she grew increasingly uncomfortable as he insisted on sexually harassing her, using sexually graphic descriptions. Inviting her to watch pornographic videos with him was allegedly one of his favorite techniques. There was also his alleged question to her: “Who put pubic hair in my Coke?”

And How Did The White Male Committee Respond?

The opening question by Howell Heflin, a Democrat, on October 11, 1991, pretty much sums it up. “I’ve got to determine what your motivation might be,” he said. “Are you a scorned woman?”

Why did this change my life?

Women As Sexually Insatiable Handmaidens Of The Devil – Then And Now

First, I had been researching into my ancestor, the last woman to be executed for witchcraft in England in 1685, and as I listened to the Anita Hill testimony, I heard the exact same arguments as had been used in the witch hunts 300 years earlier.

16th and 17th century Europe saw lurid, pornographic trials, in which “witches” were accused of being handmaidens of the Devil and disrupting the status quo because they were sexually insatiable.

On October 12, 1991, Senator Orrin Hatch suggested that Professor Hill had concocted her story from a pornographic film with a character called “Long Dong Silver,” as well as from “The Exorcist.” Continuing the theme, Senator Alan Simpson warned his colleagues on the committee to beware of the evil influence of women like the law professor from Oklahoma University.

In 1563, Johann Weyer, a renowned doctor and occultist, wrote, witches are women “who because of their sex are inconstant and of dubious faith.”

On October 12, 1991, Paul Dietz, a psychiatrist, spoke about Anita Hill, “I know it is entirely possible for someone to be coherent, competent, intelligent, and attractive and have normal social relations while also holding an absolutely false belief about someone’s harassment of them.”

And so it continued.

Anita Hill On Trial For Being A Woman/Witch

Anita Hill was on trial for being a woman: her uncontrolled sexuality was clearly responsible for corrupting honest men. The white male committee transformed a tenured law professor, beloved by her students, into, at best an opportunistic harpy, and at worst, a woman consorting with the devil. Exactly as my ancestor, Alice Molland, had been transformed from a harmless old woman into a witch in 1685.

Secondly, as a result of this, I became a firm advocate of women’s rights, which comes with a greater understanding that some things never change.

Thirdly, Anita Hill’s courage in speaking out before this all-male committee was inspirational to me and to so many others.

25,000 Letters Since 1991 Praising Hill’s Testimony

In her PRI interview, Professor Hill spoke of the 25,000 letters she has received in the past 20 years, from women and men, telling her what those hearings meant to them, and in particular how important her testimony was.

Ms. Hill has moved on, with the publication of her new book, Reimagining Equality, but her spirit continues to inspire many of us. Like I said, Anita Hill changed my life.

Related Stories

An Anita Hill Moment For France? Prime Minister Resigns After 2 Women Press Charges

Virginia Thomas To Anita Hill: “Are You Ready To Apologize Yet?”


Photo Credit: wnyc


Raymond J.
Raymond J.5 years ago

What a crock?! You all are just as RACIST and full of it as the feminazis! who for years have donne everything humanly possible to IGNORE women of color but all of a sudden love Anita?! Please and where was all this talk of 'harassment' when it was Bill Clinton or Bob Packwood or Tailhook or Bill 'OReilly?!!yeah that's what I thought hags!

s. ryan
p. q5 years ago


Thomas B.
Thomas Bridges6 years ago

There was an excellent book about the hearing, of which I no longer remember the author's name. It contained a lot of details that I didn't know, and I watched the hearing start to finish.

The Republicans and some of the media tried to smear Anita Hill because she gave a wrong answer to one of the questions. I was watching, and can tell you that the question was so long, complicated and confusing that I doubt that more than a handful of the people there could decipher it.

Playboy magazine had 3 reporters covering the hearing, and in the magazine were asked who was telling the truth. One said Thomas, another Hill, and the third "I don't know." I was surprised, though. Anyone with half a brain, or even less than that if they had watched, would know straightway that it was Hill telling the truth all the way.

Thomas is not just a disgrace to the black race. He's a disgrace to the human race.

Tierney G.
Tierney G6 years ago

Those men were and are just insecure rats with little dicks She spoke the truth.
Anyone who can run a 26 mile marathon in active labor is a hero to me and NO man on earth can ever beat her on that feat LOL!!!

Elizabeth K I sent you a star. Thanks for exposing the truth.

Bette M.
Bette M6 years ago

Pamela B......If Thomas was any dumber he'd be a lot smarter.
Thomas has an intense dislike of his own people & they intern
despise him for how he tried to demolish Anita.
Anita is a wonderful woman who is fair minded & a real lady.
and one other lady who was the same was the sweet Pearl
Baily. Pearl was a gem to watch if you recall who she was.

Plant & protect Danny's trees for life.
Trees are the lungs of the earth.

Pamela B.
Pamela B.6 years ago

The only reason he was confirmed was that these abysmal senators decided that they needed a member of the black community for the Supreme Court. I worked in a hospital at that time and most women thought Anita Hill was lying. But does anyone remember the women behind the scenes who were prepared to testify against him but weren't called because they too wouldnt be crdible because after all, they were only women. At the time, we had a black male housekeeper in the hospital who was working on his PhD. We would chat after work and he told me that all the black community he knew believed Anita Hill. Ten years later, the same women who didn't believe Anita Hill now believed her. And it's very interesting too how many African American professors feel he is so ignorant. Anyone see the interview where he was sitting in his basement with his law degree hanging askew on the wall behind him and he told the interviewer that the degree didn't matter to him? Remember how he got help from civil rights actions but later voted against them. This guy is so smart he doesn't even remember that he and his wife have to disclose their finances. Yeah, right!

Bette M.
Bette M6 years ago

Jutta wrote:
"Actually, they got what they deserved as Justice
Thomas is practically silent on the bench and seems
to have ethics problems."

Jutta, sounds like Thomas is the most highly visible
welfare client in the country!! We the american people
pay this ass &he just collects & stays mute.
And, collecting money
under the table from his wife's earning.
Thomas is a king con artist!!!

Plant & protect Danny's trees for life.
Trees are the lungs of the earth.

Read more:

Jutta T.
6 years ago

Actually, they got what they deserved as Justice Thomas is practically silent on the bench and seems to have ethics problems.

Sharon H.
Sharon H6 years ago

Jeffrey defends that piece of slime because he can identify with him...they're cut from the same cloth. They think women are only good for one thing and think they're so damned hot that no woman in their right mind could refuse them. Never mind the only way either one of them could get a woman is to pay her or threaten her.

Charles M.
Charles M.6 years ago

Anita Hill is a brave beautiful lady who is my HERO. I believe she told the truth & a bunch of bigoted old men didn't want to know the truth. Go girl, you are an inspiration to all of us.