Book review: Anita Hill urges us all to battle gender violence

  • "Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence" by Anita Hill.

    "Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence" by Anita Hill. Courtesy of Viking

 
 
Posted10/2/2021 7:10 AM

"Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence" by Anita Hill (Viking)

Anita Hill didn't care if President Joe Biden apologized or not, but she found his aversion to doing so rather dramatic.

 

This is one anecdote from her new book, "Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence."

"Women are often told to accept an apology for bad and even brutal behavior for their own healing," she wrote.

When Biden called Hill to apologize in late 2017, almost 28 years had passed since she testified against Clarence Thomas for sexual misconduct in front of an all-male Senate panel in October 1991. It was a media circus for the ages, one that Biden oversaw.

But if Hill sounds jaded, she's not.

The law and gender studies professor at Brandeis University and famed women's rights advocate remains hopeful about the future. She's also hopeful Biden will make addressing gender violence his raison d'être.

Hill still gets office voicemails with misogynistic messages because she dared to speak out against Thomas. But she wouldn't change her decision to testify.

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The experience -- both good and bad -- have shaped her life's work.

"Believing" is 300 pages packed with some of Hill's personal stories, including the emotional days before Christine Blasey Ford testified against Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh for sexual assault.

During the Kavanaugh investigation, Hill recounts the hope she felt when watching Ford speak, and extreme disappointment and sadness in the realization nothing had changed when Kavanaugh secured a lifetime appointment on the country's most powerful court.

There's also a lot of gender studies and theory in "Believing." With scholarly sophistication, Hill calls out the failings of our politicians, courts, places of work and home life.

She argues we've been conditioned to view gender violence as somebody else's problem, something that happens to others or "not that bad."

Even post- #MeToo movement, tougher measures are needed to make significant progress in reducing gender violence. Hill is uniquely equipped to offer a combined scholarly and personal perspective on this subject.

"A true reckoning will cause us to face the inconvenient truth about how we have coddled and encouraged gender violence," Hill wrote. "It isn't the 'not so bad' behavior that's happening to someone else."

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