Believing Our thirty-year journey to end gender violence

Anita Hill

Book - 2021

"From the woman who gave the landmark testimony against Clarence Thomas as a sexual menace, a new manifesto about the origins and course of gender violence in our society; a combination of memoir, personal accounts, law, and social analysis, and a powerful call to arms from one of our most prominent and poised survivors. In 1991, Anita Hill began something that's still unfinished work. The issues of gender violence, touching on sex, race, age, and power, are as urgent today as they wer...e when she first testified. Believing is a story of America's three decades long reckoning with gender violence, one that offers insights into its roots, and paths to creating dialogue and substantive change. It is a call to action that offers guidance based on what this brave, committed fighter has learned from a lifetime of advocacy and her search for solutions to a problem that is still tearing America apart. We once thought gender-based violence--from casual harassment to rape and murder--was an individual problem that affected a few; we now know it's cultural and endemic, and happens to our acquaintances, colleagues, friends and family members, and it can be physical, emotional and verbal. Women of color experience sexual harassment at higher rates than White women. Street harassment is ubiquitous and can escalate to violence. Transgender and nonbinary people are particularly vulnerable. Anita Hill draws on her years as a teacher, legal scholar, and advocate, and on the experiences of the thousands of individuals who have told her their stories, to trace the pipeline of behavior that follows individuals from place to place: from home to school to work and back home. In measured, clear, blunt terms, she demonstrates the impact it has on every aspect of our lives, including our physical and mental wellbeing, housing stability, political participation, economy and community safety, and how our descriptive language undermines progress toward solutions. And she is uncompromising in her demands that our laws and our leaders must address the issue concretely and immediately"--

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Subjects
Published
New York : Viking [2021]
Language
English
Physical Description
xviii, 334 pages ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 311-324) and index.
ISBN
9780593298299
Main Author
Anita Hill (author)
  • Introduction: boiling the ocean
  • Our state of denial
  • Frozen
  • A "recurrent feature of our social experience"
  • The myth of the woke generation
  • Institutional neglect
  • The millennial workplace
  • A woman's worth: representation, violence, and equality
  • Victim shaming
  • Politics: rage, compromises, and backlash
  • Accountability.
Review by Booklist Review

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's testimony at the 2018 confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh had a disturbingly familiar ring. In 1991, another brave young woman testified against another nominee, Clarence Thomas, for committing sexual harassment, risking her personal safety and professional standing as a panel of men excoriated her in this most public arena. That experience galvanized Anita Hill's commitment to recognizing and fighting against systemic sexism throughout American society, in which 25 percent of women experience sexual abuse and violence, and 30 percent have been victims of workplace harassment. In examining the indelible consequences of gender-based aggression, Hill assesses the political, economic, psychological, and social destruction such attitudes and behaviors inflict. Professor of Social Policy, Law, and Women's and Gender Studies at Brandeis University, and a dedicated advocate, Hill posits that the country is in a state of crisis, and issues a call for changes in the ways gender-based violence is viewed, debated, and legislated. The result is a sober analysis that confronts the severity of a tragically persistent problem.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Anita Hill's expertise in systemic sexism and the profound harm it causes is an invaluable factor in the long battle for sexual equality and justice.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission. Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Gender-based violence is a systemic problem that, if left unsolved, will be passed "onto our children like some cruel inheritance," according to this incisive and impassioned account from Brandeis law professor Hill (Reimagining Equality). Recounting her career as an anti-sexual harassment activist after testifying against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in 1991, Hill details how universities protect their finances and reputations by creating anti-harassment policies that provide institutional cover without changing student experiences, and contends that young people have "inherited university and workplace cultures where gender aggression is practiced to the point of normalization." She also highlights problems with relying on the criminal justice system to protect the survivors of sexual abuse, noting how racist stereotypes lead to the dismissal of allegations made by Black and Indigenous women, in particular. Throughout, Hill relates her personal experiences to the bigger picture, describing how the public response to Christine Blasey Ford's testimony against Brett Kavanaugh recapitulated her own experiences decades earlier, and expressing disappointment that Joe Biden's 2019 apology to Hill did not address the impact her hostile treatment by the Senate Judiciary Committee had on the national psyche. Hill's inspiring personal history, eloquently constructed arguments, and dogged persistence in shining a light on the topic make this an essential look at the fight against misogyny. Agent: Wes Neff, LeighCo. (Sept.)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved Review by Library Journal Review

Hill's new book defies boundaries by bringing together elements of memoir with law, social analysis, and polemic--delivered with the precision of a powerful lawyer and the vulnerability of someone who became a target of merciless media scrutiny after testifying to being sexually harassed by now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. In telling her story and situating it in the context of 1991, as well as the context of 2021, Hill (social policy, law, and women's studies, Brandeis Univ.) demonstrates the importance of acknowledging that problems once thought of as individual are in fact "cultural and endemic." Hill draws attention to the imbalance of power that is prevalent throughout American society, especially within the legal system itself. Alongside her own experiences and her response to the Me Too movement, Hill offers a penetrating analysis of the racism, sexism, and mistrust that Black women face in the U.S. She calls for an end to gender-based violence and asks readers to put forth the effort to enact societal change. VERDICT With searing insight, Hill shows how much and how little things have changed since 1991. Her book gives hope, inspires activism, and discourages complacency.--Emily Bowles, Lawrence Univ., WI

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. Review by Kirkus Book Review

The well-known attorney examines gender-based violence as a systemic problem in American society. In the U.S., at least one woman in four experiences violence at the hands of an intimate partner, including sexual and verbal abuse as well as physical assault. There are other forms of violence, though, including economic discrimination and psychological harassment, "that are interrelated and affect women from before birth to old age." As Hill notes, transgender and nonbinary people are disproportionately subject to abuse, particularly if they are Black. One unfortunate victim of violence was a gender-nonconforming middle school student who was hounded into committing suicide. By Hill's account, the resulting report included plenty of information on everything except the harassers and whether other children were subject to the same abuse. "A thorough understanding of how to prevent what happened…and change the behavior of those who were responsible requires us to understand how the school culture supported his torment," writes Hill, which in turn requires administrators to take a more active role in containing such incidents. As it is, by the time they enter college, increasingly more young women and nonbinary people experience abuse and harassment, and courts have done little to help. Naturally, the author recounts her own experience as the subject of harassment and of a hostile reception when she reported that experience during congressional hearings over whether to confirm Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. Of the charges leveled against Joe Biden of inappropriate behavior, she holds that an inquiry should have been neutrally applied to both Biden and Trump: "Transparency in the process would boost public knowledge and enable us to make informed decisions about the men--because, so far, it's always been men--whom we elect to lead our country." A powerful argument that ending gender violence is an attainable goal, if only we apply ourselves to the work. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.