Professor Anita Hill (HELLER) released her third book on Sep. 28. Titled “Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence.” This book is “a new manifesto about the origins and course of gender violence in our society,” according to its summary on Penguin Random House publishing website.
When discussing the process of writing the book, Hill described it as “a bit like trying to boil the ocean,” according to a New York Times article. She highlights that “we can’t really fix any one piece” until the problem is seen holistically, which is what she is trying to achieve in the book, according to her NY Times interview.
Hill tries to show the connections between what seem to be separate social issues, such as homelessness, school shootings and domestic violence, and then underlines the relationship between racial and gender factors and these issues. Hill claims that this creates a culture in which there is a “literal and figurative foot on women’s necks,” according to the article.
One of the issues that Hill addressed in her book is “the myth of the woke generation,” which is also the title of one of the chapters, according to the article.
Hill says that this comes from the idea that “a generation will come along and realize that all of these differences that we use to keep people down — whether it’s race or gender or sexual identity or gender identity or class — that all of those things really don’t matter. That this generation will see people as equal, and because of that, the problems will go away, all the biases will be gone.”
Hill claims that this is a myth for two main reasons. Firstly, she says that in any generation there will be a mixture of beliefs, as opposed to a universal set. But the larger issue comes from the system: “there are going to be systems that are biased and the only way that they’re going to be successful in those systems is to accommodate some of those biases. What we need to do is change the systems, but it’s not going to happen overnight. We can’t expect one generation to correct them,” said Hill in the interview.
She also mentioned that she is running out of patience with these issues: “that was part of the urgency for me in writing this book — it’s like, I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be doing this. I don’t even know how much longer I’m going to be around. I want to get all of this out.”
Hill is known for testifying against Clarence Thomas before the Senate in 1991, according to her Britannica page. The two had worked together when he was chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission—she was his adviser. She testified that he had sexually assaulted her in their time as colleagues, according to the page.
Since then, Hill has continued to use her voice to speak against sexual violence. Her earlier works include “Speaking Truth to Power” and “Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race, and Finding Home.” Both books deal with issues of inequality and sexual violence, according to the book summaries.
Hill came to Brandeis in 1998 and has taught courses in the African and African American Studies, Legal Studies, Heller School for Social Policy and Management and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies departments, according to her faculty profile. This semester, she is teaching three individual research-based classes. These courses are WGS 92A5: Internship and Analysis, WGS 99A4: Senior Research Project and WGS 299A18: Master’s Project in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies.