Remember Long Dong Silver?
We watched the Hill/Thomas hearings in junior high school. I was young, naive about sexual harassment and the lengths to which people went to make sure others didn't feel welcome. I was quite familiar with racism, but weaponized misogyny remained a mystery.
While we listened to the testimony, I pictured people socializing in the work break room. Coffee cups in hand, chatting about the latest episode of Seinfeld. I didn't get how or why Clarence Thomas would be talking about porn or pubic hair on a coke can. Aren't lawyers professionals? Don't people just work at work?
What I DID fully absorb from those hearings was the strength and bravery of Anita Hill. She imprinted on me as a superhero. A woman who stood alone, answering alarmingly personal questions from all-male judiciary committee. She was villified, threatened, and dismissed. It wasn't until years later that I learned that she didn't have to be alone; several women were ready to testify, but backroom deals kept them from being heard.
Professor Hill stuck her neck out and there was a domino effect. Just a year later, employment discrimination claims to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) were up 50 percent. Private companies started sexual harassment trainings. And most impressive, "the month after the hearings, Congress passed a law that allowed sexual harassment victims to seek damage awards as well as back pay and reinstatement. It was signed by President George H. W. Bush, who had threatened to veto the act just a week before Ms. Hill testified." NYT, October 21, 2011. To quote a former client, "Boom!"
Over the last year, a new wave of brave women shared their stories and sparked the #MeToo movement. The impact is undeniable; high profile resignations occur almost daily and the conversation has widened to include those who are complicit. Times have changed and so have I. By providing mediation, coaching and team facilitation in the workplace, I'm excited about FLP's part in helping people voice their traumatic stories in a safe space and figure out what they need to heal and move forward.
Thank you Professor Hill!