She was the woman that broke down the padlocked door on the subject of sexual harassment in the workplace. And she did it on national television, in front of the senate judiciary committee who was taking testimony on the appointment of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court.
This was 1991. In 1991, sexual harassment was still just, “one of those things” you put up with. If you wanted to keep your job, you cooperated and you didn’t complain. But Hill’s testimony on Clarance Thomas’s inappropriate comments and advances changed that. Here was an African American woman telling a group of white senators that the man they were about to appoint was a predator. If she can do that, in that setting, then so could others.
So while the senators did not stand by Ms. Hill, women around the world did. Pandora’s box was opened, and women began to tell their stories and in an onslaught that has never been seen before, more women ran for and won office the following year than any time in previous history.
Now we have Republican candidate for president, Donald Trump, a man who was caught on tape boasting about assaulting women. For years his behavior has gone unchecked. In the incendiary tape that came out just over two weeks ago, Trump bragged to the smarmy Billy Bush, that as a “star” he can kiss, touch and grab women in their most private areas any time he wants. “They let you,” Trump said.
Well, Trump’s star is falling, and it’s being shot down by the very women he assaulted. So far, 12 women have come out with their claims. Another five complaints have come from former Miss Teen USA’s, who say he intentionally walked in on them while they were changing. Many of them were naked, and many of them were minors.
Of course, Trump, like Clarence Thomas called foul on the accusations. The women are liars, he says. He doesn’t even know them, he says. He’d never actually do those terrible things he bragged about doing, he says.
But just as in 1991, women know better. They know men who brag about assaulting women have likely assaulted women. And they know that the politicians that tacitly stand by their man—even while they renounce his words—are no better than the man himself. Those men and women who jumped off the Trump bus long enough to beat their chest in moral outrage, only to turn around and jump back on the rig, and those that simply beat their chest from within the bus (Paul Ryan), should be ashamed. They have put party over human decency, and have thrown every single mother, daughter, sister, wife and partner under Trump’s bus. Their strategy: pray voters have very short memories.
Unfortunately for Trump, women know better, and we fully expect that when women look at their ballots, they will not only be glad to knock Trump from his preposterous pedestal, but also the lawmakers who stood by him as well.
Thank you, Anita.