Anita Hill, who championed women’s ability to speak out against sexual harassment, didn’t mince words about the allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
“The details are clearly shocking but the behavior itself is not surprising because I’ve heard from women, thousands of them over the past 26 years, about behavior of this kind that they’ve endured,” Hill, a law school professor who in 1991 famously accused then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, told CNN’s “New Day” on Wednesday.
Dozens of women have come forward in recent weeks with stories describing Weinstein’s predatory conduct. Many have told of being tricked into taking a meeting in Weinstein’s hotel rooms or being manipulated into caving to his sexual demands out of fear that he could sabotage their careers.
Hill, now a Brandeis University professor, credited the media with digging deeply into the Weinstein story instead of just asking “the old, pat questions” about sexual harassment and assault.
“But we’ve also gotten questions about how this type of behavior can be sustained over three decades, and those are going to be important questions moving forward,” she added.
Those questions need to be asked beyond the entertainment industry, she wrote in a New York Daily News op-ed published Sunday.
“This is really the story of everyday women,” Hill said. “There’s a reason, for many women, the stories of Weinstein’s alleged and admitted misconduct read like chapters in their own lives.”
Many who do file claims, she added, are ignored by the media. “The question we must ask ourselves is whether, despite their relative anonymity, their harassment matters to us as a society.”
Hill has repeated these same points in the wake of several other recent high-profile sexual harassment scandals. She’s spoken out against former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, and President Donald Trump.
“We have a whole host of people accepting that as just something men do as opposed to understanding it as predatory behavior that is not only immoral, but is also illegal,” Hill told USA Today in April. “We had some social forces coming together, but we had a cultural excuse that overlaid [Trump’s] statement or his explanation.”