Anita Hill says Joe Biden could’ve helped start #MeToo in 1991

Anita Hill wrote in a new op-ed that then-Sen. Joe Biden could’ve started the #MeToo movement in 1991 if his committee had “done its job” when handling her sexual harassment complaints against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.

In March, Biden called Hill in the weeks leading up to his 2020 presidential campaign launch to apologize for not doing more to support her during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. Did she accept his apology? In her New York Times op-ed, Hill said that’s not what matters.

“If the Senate Judiciary Committee, led then by Mr. Biden, had done its job and held a hearing that showed that its members understood the seriousness of sexual harassment and other forms of sexual violence, the cultural shift we saw in 2017 after #MeToo might have began in 1991 – with the support of the government,” said Hill, a professor of social policy, law, and women’s studies at Brandeis University.

Hill believes if the government treated survivors with dignity and respect, it could have had a ripple effect, giving institutions greater license to end harassment. “And research shows that if leaders convey that they won’t tolerate harassment, people within an organization typically obey,” she said.

“Instead, far too many survivors kept their stories hidden for years,” Hill said. She pointed to the thousands of people who have shared stories of sexual harassment since her testimony, yet have gone unseen and kept private.

“The world didn’t really begin to come to grips with the prevalence of sexual abuse until 2017, when the millions of survivors who became the #MeToo movement demolished the myth that sexual violence was insignificant,” Hill said.

Law professor Anita Hill attends the commencement ceremony at Wesleyan University on May 27, 2018 in Middletown, Connecticut. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / Getty

Hill also praised Christine Blasey Ford for her testimony at Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing. “Even worse, a new generation was forced to conclude that politics trumped a basic and essential expectation: that claims of sexual abuse would be taken seriously,” she wrote.

She then compared Blasy-Ford’s testimony to her own. “After Dr. Blasey’s courageous testimony, many saw the callous and ham-handed approach of Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, the committee’s chairman, as a replay of the Thomas hearings,” Hill writes.

She said she is hopeful, but much more work needs to be done to end sexual violence.

“Sexual violence is a national crisis that requires a national solution. We miss that point if we end the discussion at whether I should forgive Mr. Biden. This crisis calls for all leaders to step up and say: ‘The healing from sexual violence must begin now. I will take up that challenge.'”

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