For all you HBO subscribers out there, and even for those who aren’t, you likely have seen ads for the movie “Confirmation” which chronicles the 1991 U.S. Supreme Court nomination — and subsequent sexual harassment controversy — of Clarence Thomas. Before he eventually became a Supreme Court Justice, Thomas worked at the Equal Employment Opportunity Center (EEOC).
One of Thomas’ former co-workers at the EEOC, Anita Hill, alleged that he sexually harassed her while they worked together. The claims were quite explosive, setting off a weeks-long controversy about Thomas nomination and confirmation as a Supreme Court Justice. He was eventually approved as a Congressional committee ended up having little to no impact on the situation.
The story was quite a politically divisive one. The right saw Hill’s claims as a move to block Thomas from reaching the Supreme Court, while the left saw the right’s attempts to defend and push Thomas through the confirmation process as irresponsible and disrespectful to woman and the topic of sexual harassment in general.
No matter where you stand on the matter, it is important to realize just how important Anita Hill and the Clarence Thomas controversy were to improving sexual harassment laws and greatly improving the awareness of improper workplace conduct in the United States. In addition, after the controversy, many women were elected to Congress after it was widely criticized for having an all-male congressional committee investigating the claims made by Anita Hill.
We’re still not “there” yet, but sexual harassment laws have evolved and become much better over the years.
Source: USA Today, “Review: HBO’s ‘Confirmation’ shows Kerry Washington at her best,” Robert Bianco, April 16, 2016