Congress Silenced Her, So Jon Stewart Let Her Have The Floor For As Long As She Wanted

Lori White Curator:

Sexual harassment is still around because not enough people are talking about it. Which means the best way to get rid of it is simple. More talking! And this two-part extended "Daily Show" interview is a great way to start.

Jon Stewart is interviewing Anita Hill*, who is one of the many women and men refusing to stop talking about sexual harassment until there’s absolutely nothing left to talk about. In part one, she lays out her plan for what's next in this fight, and in part 2 she bravely inspires everyone with her principles and positivity.

Show Transcript Hide Transcript

Jon Stewart: Thank you very much for joining us. It is hard for me to believe that the Clarance Thomas hearings were over 20 years ago.

Anita Hill: Right, almost 23, and as I say, I've lived every day of those 23 years. Some have been easier than others. But when I started to do this film, it was about four years ago. I realized that an entire generation of people had been born since the hearing. They were going to go into the workplace, they were going to go into the universities, they were going to go into the military. And they were going into a different place that what I went into. And they didn't quite know how we got to that place.

So the movie really is about looking at our history and learning from it.

Jon Stewart: It was interesting. What struck me, and I remember it so viscerally watching those early hearings, was just the optics of it. There was this panel of 14 old white dudes, there they are. And they were vicious to you, many of them. And you sat there, a black woman, and I think that visual even is what shook some people up and maybe woke them up to what power dynamics may look like.

Anita Hill: What power dynamics look like, and also, what a failure to have a representative body in the Senate actually results in. It results in processes that are being held that are just completely uninformed by the reality of peoples' lives. I mean, you had people in the Senate saying, "Wow, well, sexual harrassment, what is this? None of us in here know anything about this." And you had women throughout the country saying, "How could you not know about this very real thing that happens in our lives, In your own wives' lives or daughters' lives?"

Jon Stewart: Even in the Senate, I'm sure some of them would go back and talk to their staffers and say, "What is this stuff?" The staffer might be thinking to themselves, "It's that thing you do to me every morning."

Anita Hill: Even if they acknowledged that it happened, they just refused to acknowledged that it mattered. And that it mattered to the very process that they were engaged in, in determining whether or not a person should be on the Supreme Court actually making and passing judgment on the very same laws.

Jon Stewart: Exactly.

Anita Hill: It did have a surreal feel, and I'm sure that there are people who will look back today, once they watch the film. and they'll say, "Could that be only 22 years ago?"

Jon Stewart: Oh, it feels anachronistic to what you would imagine, you know, 1991 was not that long ago.

Anita Hill: It's not. It doesn't feel that long ago to you and me, but again, a generation of people who don't even know that it happened are now going into work and experiencing this. They see the signs now that say sexual harassment is prohibited, but they don't know how it got there. And unfortunately-

Jon Stewart: And what drew a highlight to it, because the laws were on the books, but I don't think anybody paid attention to them until this case brought it all to light and it was like looking under a rock.

Anita Hill: And it was the people who started talking about it, and sharing their stories, and just pushed it even further than perhaps it ever would have gotten had it not been for those hearings. But unfortunately, what we know is that the problems continue. I just think that we're at a point now, with the benefit of 22 years of hindsight and perspective, that we're at a point now where we can move to that next level. So we know sexual harassment is wrong. We know that it exists. So do we have the right processes in place to get women coming forward and men coming forward?

Jon Stewart: I think it's a constant struggle and it's one that continues to evolve, but I think it ebbs and flows. And when there's attention drawn to it, you know, whenever you shine a light on something, it gets better for a little bit. As soon as the light goes off, they all come back.

Anita Hill: Well, the trick is then just to keep the light shining.

Jon Stewart: But then global WARMING!

There may be small errors in this transcript.

*Anita Hill went on "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" to promote her new documentary, "ANITA." This is the trailer for it. The confirmation hearings for now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas that catapulted her into America's TV world were happening over 20 years ago (I know!) when I was a kid. I mostly remember everyone being SO vicious toward her (like this article in 1991 from Time magazine titled "Sex, Lies and Politics; He Said, She Said." What?! This was about a legit legal hearing.).

Since that coverage was a little bit bananas, it might behoove you to get a fact-ier viewpoint on the whole thing. Read up on Wikipedia about her and the hearings for more non-sensationalized details, including a not-the-most-noble-cameo-ever from my favorite VP, Joe Biden (he was Senate Judiciary Committee chairman at the time).

Jun 13, 2014

Flash Video Embed

This video is not supported by your device. Continue browsing to find other stuff you'll love!

In case you were wondering what matters to us, it's your privacy. Read our updated privacy policy.

Hey, Internet Friend. Looks like you're using a crazy old web browser, which is no longer supported. Please consider upgrading to something more modern—for a better experience, and a safer time online. We only want the best for you.

Download Google Chrome, and try it for a week. Don't think about it, just do it. You'll thank us later.