Tarana Burke Explains Why She Started #MeToo, Anita Hill: The Woman Who Awakened Consciences in the 90s, and More Feminist News
#MeToo: 12 years and 1 year later
A year after #MeToo emerged, Jezebel interviewed Tarana Burke, the movement’s founder. The interview covers a wide array of subjects, including the attention that has come with the hashtag, the needs of survivors, and the work that still needs to be done. And very interestingly, Jezebel covered how #MeToo came about.
“She started the movement […] in response to what she saw as a failure to speak—openly, candidly—to a 13-year-old girl who had come to her with her story of sexual abuse.
‘She had a deep sadness and a yearning for confession that I read immediately and wanted no part of. Finally, later in the day she caught up with me and almost begged me to listen… and I reluctantly conceded.’ Burke wrote of that experience. When the girl’s story became too much to hear, Burke directed her to speak with someone else who could ‘help her better.’
‘I watched her walk away from me as she tried to recapture her secrets and tuck them back into their hiding place,’ she continued. ‘I watched her put her mask back on and go back into the world like she was all alone and I couldn’t even bring myself to whisper… me too.’” Full interview is here.
Anita Hill: The Woman Who Awakened Consciences in the 90s
What has changed since the Anita Hill hearings?
Ruth Mandel, co-founder of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, spoke with NPR last month about 1992, which at the time was also known as The Year of the Woman. “Anita Hill was one individual who came forward and shocked the nation with some language and a description that had never been part of the consciousness of the country,” Mandel said. “But it was one person, and she was seen as being victimized, essentially.” Anita Hill is a professor of social policy, law and women's studies at Brandeis University, known for her civil and women’s rights activism and the 1991 televised hearings, where Hill testified against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for sexual harassment in the workplace. “Hill agreed to take a polygraph test. While senators and other authorities noted that polygraph results cannot be relied upon and are inadmissible in courts, Hill's results did support her statements, while Thomas did not take a polygraph test. He made a vehement and complete denial, saying he was being subjected to a ‘high-tech lynching for uppity blacks’ by white liberals who were seeking to block a black conservative from taking a seat on the Supreme Court. [..] After interviewing a number of women who alleged that Thomas had frequently subjected them to sexually explicit remarks, Wall Street Journal reporters Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson wrote a book which concluded that Thomas had lied during his confirmation process” as aggregated by Wikipedia. Anita Hill will be Keynote lecturing at Vanderbilt University on October 28. The subject of the lecture is “No Longer Silent,” and it is bound to be an interesting Q&A afterwards, coming on the heels of the Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
Feminism is China
Feminism is having an extraordinary moment in Asia right now, particularly in China. Many high profile men have been accused, and a real discussion is taking place on social media in real-time as to what is sexual harassment. This is, to be frank, quite extraordinary for China. “There's this huge confrontation now between the agenda of the government, which is pushing a very traditional gender norm,” author Leta Hong Fincher told WBUR's Here and Now. "But then you have this enormous upwelling of particularly educated young women who are pushing back in every way.”
…And in India
Further, India, it appears, is having a powerful #MeToo moment. Indian women journalists are leading the charge. Several celebrities as well as comedians, authors, and actors have been accused publicly. "We’ve faced violence, including verbal violence, all our lives,” Rituparna Chatterjee, a journalist told The Washington Post. “Somewhere, I think, we’ve snapped.” Bollywood actress Tanushree Dutta's accusations of sexual harassment against veteran actor Nana Patekar have emboldened women to speak out against their harassers.
The Women of the Senate
Moments before Kavanaugh became all but a certainty for the Supreme Court, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska dramatically revealed she would vote no on his appointment. Senator Susan Collins of Maine and Manchin of West Virginia afterwards made that decision moot, putting Kavanaugh over the 50 vote threshold to become the next Supreme Court justice. But what prompted the Alaska Senator to break from her party – the lone dissenter – on Brett Kavanaugh? Native Americans, a key part of her base, is the reason. “She heard our concerns about Judge Kavanaugh’s record on the constitutional rights of Native peoples,” says a press release sent out on Friday by the Alaska Federation of Natives.
After Susan Collins disappointed many who thought that the “moderate” Senator from Maine would vote no on Kavanaugh, Jen Psaki, a former Clinton and Obama administration spokesperson, asked on Twitter who would like to run for her seat. Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice tweeted “Me,” fueling much media speculation. "Rice may be the most high profile but she isn’t the only one who has hinted she would be interested in challenging Collins. Sara Gideon, the speaker of the Maine House of Representatives, also hinted she could be interested in becoming Collins’ challenger. Some have also suggested former Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards could run." The CrowdPac crowdfunding campaign for politics has raised over $3 million from over 160,000 donations.
One year ago this week, the New York Times published the first of its exposés on Harvey Weinstein. The Cut has done an extensive, exhaustive timeline of what has occurred in the last year. “Fueled by anger over Donald Trump’s shocking presidential win, a record number of women are running for office for the first time; Bill Cosby was recently sentenced to prison for sexual assault; people are finally reexamining the way Monica Lewinsky was treated and well as the power imbalance of her relationship with Bill Clinton; and last month, McDonald’s employees staged an historic strike to pressure management to combat sexual harassment.”
Statistically what has changed? This week preliminary data for fiscal year 2018 has been released by the EEOC. Thus far, 2018 has seen an increase of 50% over 2017 in harassment suits. "We've had a fivefold increase of hits to our website of people looking for information about sexual harassment," EEOC Acting Chair Victoria Lipnic tells NPR. And "we've done hundreds of training sessions for employers."
Georgia women are rising
The Macon Telegraph takes a deep dive into elected women in Georgia, a subject of some national interest, because of the competitive Governor's race. “Back in Georgia, headline figures mask some differences among local offices,” Maggie Lee writes for the paper. “Across the state, about 37 percent of school board seats are held by women. About 30 percent of Georgia’s city council members and mayors are women. In county office, including Macon-Bibb and Columbus leadership, only about 14 percent of officeholders are women, according to organizations for each of those local governments.” The article is optimistic, noting that the number of women in Georgia politics is increasing – possibly by one, the big one, the most important job in the state, come November! Georgia women are rising to education boards from working as educators, in social services or non-profits, work areas that are disproportionately female. And education boards are typically the stepping stones to state politics.
Cover photo via Time