Anita Hill speaks on Kavanaugh, vigil held for her in Boston

Anita Hill speaks on Kavanaugh, vigil held for her in Boston

September 28, 2018

A vigil was held in Boston in solidarity with Brandeis professor Anita Hill (HS, WMGS) and Christine Blasey Ford, a professor and research psychologist who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, on Tuesday, Sept. 25. The following day, Hill spoke out again about her 1991 testimony and Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings at the University of Utah’s Obert C. and Grace A. Tanner Humanities Center on Wednesday, according to NBC and the University of Utah.  

Her lecture at the University of Utah came just a day before the testimony of Kavanaugh and Ford to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her while they were at a party in high school at Georgetown Prep.

The vigil was attended by many different students, activists and parents. It featured several speakers, mostly survivors of sexual assault, who related their stories and expressed frustration over the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. One speaker, who asked not to be named, recounted her experience of assault for the first time to anyone other than herself.

Jaclyn Friedman, a feminist writer and author of three books, including “Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape,” spoke at the vigil. She focused instead of telling her story on “making demands.” The vigil was organized by Tori Renee and Delia Harrington.

“That’s sort of number one on my demands right now, cancel Kavanaugh,” Friedman said. “I am a human person. I deserve to have a Supreme Court, to have justice in this country not decided by a serial predator.”

Friedman continued to ask for “massive overhaul of our criminal justice system,” comprehensive sex ed and more support of survivors.

The organizers collected letters in support of Hill, Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez, who said in a New Yorker interview on Sept. 23 that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during a drinking game when they were both at Yale University.

At the University of Utah the next day, Hill spoke on her 1991 testimony in a lecture called, “From Social Movement to Social Impact: Ending Sexual Harassment.” In her speech, Hill criticized the decision to have a hearing without an independent investigation of Ford and the two other accusers, Ramirez and Julie Swetnick’s, claims, according to NBC.

She was quoted by NBC as saying, “Setting them up this way does a disservice not only to the primary witness, but it does a disservice to the courts, and it does a disservice to the American people who want to know how to respond to these situations and they want representation that helps them understand.

The lecture will be available on the Tanner Humanities Center’s YouTube channel, according to the University of Utah event page, though the website did not specify when.  

Major media outlets, as well as Hill herself, have compared her 1991 testimony to the testimony that took place Thursday, Sept. 27. Hill wrote an op-ed in the New York Times on Sept. 18 calling for “basic ground rules” for the Senate Judiciary Committee, including hiring a neutral investigative group to examine the incident and for the committee to not rush the hearing.

Hill has stated that the confirmation hearings cannot be fair in an interview with NPR, where she said, “It cannot be fair and thorough,” she said. “It cannot provide not only the senators with enough information to reach a reasonable conclusion, but it cannot provide the public with the kind of information to understand the significance of these charges as well as the likelihood that this occurred in the way that Dr. Blasey Ford has described it.”

Both Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, in that order, on Thursday. Blasey Ford recounted her memory of being pinned to a bed by Kavanaugh as he tried to rip her clothes off and muffle her cries for help. After questioning by Rachel Mitchell, an outside Arizona lawyer who specializes in sex crimes according to the New York Times, Kavanaugh testified, stating that his family and name “have been totally and permanently destroyed by vicious and false additional allegations.” He called the hearings a “national disgrace,” according to The Washington Post.

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