In October 1991, Anita Hill sat before five white male senators during Clarence Thomas' Supreme Court confirmation hearing and bravely spoke her truth.

As her former supervisor, Hill said, Thomas had sexually harassed her in the workplace. Her recollections and testimony — given long before the #MeToo era helped change the way we see sexual harassment and assault — were criticized, questioned, and brushed aside by congressional leaders. Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court shortly after.

But Hill's voice was instrumental in helping pave the way for survivors to speak up.


Photo by Jennifer Law/AFP/Getty Images.

Nearly 27 years after testifying, Hill — now a professor at Brandeis University — sat down with John Oliver on an episode of "Last Week Tonight" to chat about how we can keep moving forward in ways that empower and protect survivors.

"There's been a tremendous amount of change," Hill said. "There's been a change in public attitude, and there's been a change in the amount of information that we have about sexual harassment."

But for all we've learned, Hill still gets an incredibly frustrating question.

"So far, much of the approaches we've had is to put all of the burden on women," Hill noted. "One of the questions I get that just sort of sticks out with me is: 'How do we raise our daughter to make sure that she doesn't set herself up to be a victim of sexual harassment?' These are the kinds of things that we're thinking — 'If we fix her, then she won't encounter this problem.'

"In reality, she is not the problem."

Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images.

"She is not the problem" — men are. Can we keep saying that until it truly sinks in?

Because instead of focusing on teaching men about consent, society often tells women that their clothing or the amount of alcohol they consume are to blame for the actions of abusers. It's nonsensical.

More awareness campaigns are urging men to speak up and stop sexual assault when they see it. The #MeToo movement has challenged Washington and Hollywood alike to rethink how we view and respond to harassment and assault. So we're headed in the right direction in many ways.

But still, Hill believes men "need to step up."

"At this point in time, there are no innocent bystanders," she continued. "If you are aware of something — you acknowledge it, you know it's wrong, but you don't do anything about it — then it's the same as participating in it."

Watch Hill and Oliver's interview, which starts at about 17:50, below:

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.

Joy

50-years ago they trade a grilled cheese for a painting. Now it's worth a small fortune.

Irene and Tony Demas regularly traded food at their restaurant in exchange for crafts. It paid off big time.

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

Painting traded for grilled cheese worth thousands.

The grilled cheese at Irene and Tony Demas’ restaurant was truly something special. The combination of freshly baked artisan bread and 5-year-old cheddar was enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but no one was nearly as devoted to the item as the restaurant’s regular, John Kinnear.

Kinnear loved the London, Ontario restaurant's grilled cheese so much that he ordered it every single day, though he wouldn’t always pay for it in cash. The Demases were well known for bartering their food in exchange for odds and ends from local craftspeople and merchants.

“Everyone supported everyone back then,” Irene told the Guardian, saying that the couple would often trade free soup and a sandwich for fresh flowers. Two different kinds of nourishment, you might say.

And so, in the 1970s the Demases made a deal with Kinnear that he could pay them for his grilled cheese sandwiches with artwork. Being a painter himself and part of an art community, Kinnear would never run out of that currency.

Little did Kinnear—or anyone—know, eventually he would give the Demases a painting worth an entire lifetime's supply of grilled cheeses. And then some.

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