The Book Of Jezebel: H Is For Hill, Anita


As you may have heard, on October 22nd we’ll be publishing our first book, a 300-page, hardcover, illustrated encyclopedia called The Book of Jezebel. In honor of this milestone —which took many years and dozens of contributors to execute—we’ll be posting one entry from the book a day, starting with “A” and continuing on through to “Z.” Although the book itself has already been printed — it’s gorgeous — questions, additions, annotations and suggestions on the entries that appear online are welcomed and encouraged.

Hill, Anita (1956-)

Brandeis University professor and author who entered the history books in 1991 when she testified that then Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her when he was her supervisor at the Department of Education and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. During Thomas’s confirmation hearings, the Senate Judiciary Committee savaged Hill, “impugning everything from her competence to her sanity to her sexuality,” according to a 2011 Newsweek article. Although Hill passed a polygraph test and Thomas declined to take one, he was confirmed. Thomas became a creepy, right-wing Supreme Court justice, and Hill became a feminist icon who mostly chose to keep a low profile over the next two decades, although she wrote and spoke frequently about racism and gender discrimination. Hill was thrust into the spotlight again, in 2010, when Thomas’s wife, Virginia, left her a bizarre voice-mail message asking that she “consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband.” Hill’s response to ABC News: “I don’t apologize. I have no intention of apologizing, and I stand by my testimony in 1991.” A year later, she told Newsweek, “I think we let go of anger bit by bit. To me, the best way to do that is to think about what my contribution can be, to make sure this doesn’t happen to other people. The larger goal is both gender equality and racial equality, because both racism and sexism contributed to my being victimized.”

(Photo via Associated Press.)

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