In the days leading up to the second round of hearings for SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, Professor Lesley Wexler spoke to the Illinois News Bureau.
How does what’s happening between Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, a college professor from California, compare to what Anita Hill faced during Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearing in 1991?
There are some similarities, one of which is it’s a bit of a political Rorschach test. People’s political affiliations seem to strongly influence which side one views as more credible.
This time, however, the alleged victim is getting much more support from Democratic senators in terms of trying to influence the process. There’s been more pushback for the process to be more victim-centered, to wait for an investigation and to call on other witnesses. Many people don’t know this, but others who could have bolstered Anita Hill’s testimony were never called upon to do so.
Of course, the big difference is the widespread knowledge of and attention to just how pervasive sexual assault and sexual harassment are. Combined with allegations of President Trump’s own grievous misdoings and the #MeToo movement, the issue has much more currency in 2018 than it did in 1991. Back then, most people probably didn’t know that sexual harassment was a Title VII violation, or even what that entailed.
In the backlash or smear campaign against the victim, it’s been a slightly different playbook than what happened to Hill, but the overall circuslike atmosphere is largely similar. Instead of painting Ford as “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty” as they did with Hill, so-called ethicists are jumping down internet rabbit holes and pulling out high school yearbooks to “prove” mistaken-identity theories.
Read the full interview.