One Giant Leap for Womankind

For a black woman in America in the 90s, there wasn’t much room to speak up against men in power. However, Anita Hill persisted and testified against workplace sexual harassment despite all odds. She hoped it would start an end to power imbalance, victim blaming, or at the very least, the improper work conditions in which so many women uneasily worked through. I wish we could say that Anita Hill did solve all those problems, but it seems like we’re observing an endless cycle of the same issue.

Even though Anita Hill didn’t fix the harassment in America, she paved a feasible path for others. She inspired women and men in America in the 1990s by starting an attempted movement of social change. I use the word attempted on purpose because although her efforts did make an impact, they weren’t as drastic as intended. Anita brought to the table the idea that sexual harassment was occurring everywhere you looked. It wasn’t just the publicized incidents of misconduct, but it was also the sly inappropriate sexual remark a boss would make to his employee. It gave a more inclusive definition of what was inappropriate, and what the repercussions should be.

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Sexual harassment cases doubled in the span of 5 years because of her bravery. Women were slowly gaining their voices and realizing that speaking out truthfully for what you deserved felt damn good. Awards and settlements to victims under federal law were quadrupling to around $27 million. Waves of women were gaining the courage to speak out against the men in power. The thought of being able to actually make an impact forces you to think of the bigger picture, and validates everything that you’re sacrificing. 

Anita still continues to affect the social climate of America. Movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp were actually making a substantial impact on men high up in corporate. That “picture-perfect” illusion was slowly diminishing, and women were actually starting to receive settlements, better treatment, and a supportive community to discuss it with. These movements helped reveal that harassment in the workplace goes on more than people think. Countless celebrities in Hollywood spoke out to give these movements attention, which helped to give a voice to survivors all over the country. These movements helped give survivors a voice, made it clear that they were not alone, and that the public stood behind them.

Anita Hill showed us one of the first documented cases of sexual harassment and still continues to fight for women’s justice in the workplace. Without her, the courage to speak out might have taken decades longer. Hill’s bravery and resilience allowed women to start on their journey to seek justice and equality. It’s hard to deny that we are nowhere near equality, but we have made tremendous progress in regards to gaining public support against misconduct. 

One of Anita’s sayings that stuck with me was, “It would have been more comfortable to remain silent.” Sometimes, we hear these heroic stories, and we think of how brave they had to have been. I, at the very least, wonder what it would be like to be in their shoes, to have their voice, and to be fearless. Every courageous person is just a person after all, and has a comfort zone they would prefer to stay in. When our body tries to protect us, it’s easiest to resort back to something familiar. Anita was brave, even if she was shaking while she said it, she still spoke. That is something every woman in today’s society can relate to, and is the reason why she inspired so many other women to speak out. Even if your voice is shaking, speak anyway.