#IBelieveAnita: Speaking Out Against Workplace Sexual Harassment

When Anita Hill spoke out in 1991 about being sexually harassed by now-Justice Clarence Thomas, she changed the discourse on workplace sexual misconduct. In the new documentary Anita: Speaking Truth to Power, filmmaker Freida Lee Mock goes inside the trial and shows how Hill’s testimony opened a space for women to speak out about lewd workplace behavior.

While her brave act helped pave the way for safe-workplace legislation, Hill recognizes that little has changed for women since her harrowing experience. At a recent screening of Anita, Hill said, “Twenty-two years later, we know [sexual harassment is] still a problem. I think it’s time to start that conversation again.”

Every conversation about workplace sexual harassment begins with real women’s experiences—telling our stories prevents institutions from ignoring what goes on behind closed office doors. In honor of Anita, the woman and the film, we asked our readers on Facebook to share their stories of workplace sexual harassment. Read a sample below:

If you have a story to share, we want to hear it: Don’t let your voice be silenced! Tweet your 140-character story to @msmagazine with the hashtag #IBelieveAnita—we’ll be retweeting stories to keep this conversation alive. You can also share with us on Facebook.

Before Hill’s testimony, women had virtually no resources to combat the harassment—everything from lewd comments to aggressive grabbing and assault—they faced at work. Now, you can do more than speak out. There are state and local laws against workplace sexual harassment, and many large companies have internal policies for handling complaints. You can also file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (though there are time limits on how long after the harassment you can file). There is also new legislation before Congress, The Fair Employment Protection Act, which would expand current legal protections to embrace more workers and types of harassment.

Telling your story is the first step to ending harassment—and knowing which laws are on your side can help you speak truth to power, just like Anita Hill.

Photo of Anita Hill courtesy of Flickr user Tulsa City-County Library licensed under Creative Commons 2.0


Stephanie hails from Toronto, Canada. She is a Ms. writer, a master of journalism candidate and a hip hop dancer/instructor/choreographer. She got her start in feminist journalism at the age of 16 when she was a member of the first editorial collective at Shameless magazine—and she has never looked back.