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Prof. speaks on gender violence

Anita Hill (WGS/ HS/ LGLS/ AAAS)—a lawyer and professor at Brandeis—was recently featured on National Public Record (NPR) on her work in confronting gender-based violence. In the podcast, Hill discussed gender-based violence against women and other topics that she addresses in her new book “Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence.”

In her conversation with Angela Jones, co-founder of the Black Future Co-Op Fund, Hill told an anecdotal story about a young girl who was punished by her school teacher for speaking out about the harassment she had experienced at the hands of a fellow student in her class. Hill emphasized that the backlash the girl received for speaking out conditions people, specifically women, early in life to choose silence when they experience abuse. 

Acts of gender-based violence against women have effects on the professional well-being of women, according to Hill. Hill introduced the statistics that “50 [percent] of women who have experienced harassment in the workplace will leave their jobs.”

In the podcast, another statistic is provided saying that one in four women experience abuse from a partner, including sexual abuse, verbal abuse and physical assault.  

With women leaving the workplace due to harassment experience, there have been measurable impacts on both the culture and productivity of the office environment, Hill explains. Sexual harassment poses a clear threat to the social order, according to Hill. Hill explains that these acts of gender-based violence inflict economic devastation that has yet to be measured and reported by the government. 

The issue of sexual violence is gendered and racialized, according to Hill. In a conversation with KCRW, a National Public Radio member station, Hill highlights how one’s multiple identities intersect to forge experiences that cannot be defined by adding together the isolated experiences of one’s respective identities. Kimberlé Crenshaw coined the term ‘intersectionality’ to define when one’s identities—including race, sex and gender—converge and overlap to create a unique experience. Hill draws upon this idea, saying, “What happens is that race layers on top of the misogyny and leaves women of color completely vulnerable.” 

In her book, “Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence,” Hill goes into further detail on her analyses of gender-based violence. Hill, in her book, states that she believes an end to gender violence is obtainable, and she creates paths towards change. Hill, in her book, states that through three main actions of the public––work, education and individual attention––ending gender violence can be achievable. Hill’s career and work have involved bringing an end to gender-based violence and she demands “we all need to be engaged” on this issue, according to the podcast

Hill had been involved in a “landmark moment” in gender-based violence, according to the podcast, back in 1991. Hill had spoken out against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, accusing him of sexual assault, according to the podcast. The allegations created a media circus, and Hill was at the center, causing her to experience more harassment. Hill faced criticism from senators who claimed she was lying, and, in spite of the allegations, Thomas was elected to the supreme court, according to the podcast

On NPR’s KUOW Public Radio, Anita Hill was featured as a guest on Dec. 30 to speak about her mission to end gender violence and sexual harassment. Director of Community Engagement for the Elliot Bay Book Company, Eric Parsons introduced Anita Hill to Angela Jones, the co-founder and managing partner of the Black Future Co-Op Fund.

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