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For more than two decades, Anita Hill has had other people trying to define her experience. In her interview with me in this week’s cover story, she talks about what it was like to be under the cultural microscope in 1991, when her testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee about having been sexually harassed in the workplace by then-Supreme-Court-appointee Clarence Thomas was seen by many not as an effort to speak out about her personal experience, but as a political football, to be tossed around as it served their own ends. I’m not sure the process was even evolved enough to call it “blame the victim”—it was more like “eradicate the victim,” by arguing over, basically, whether or not sexual harassment could even exist. To this day, one of the most famous senators involved in bullying Hill, Alan Simpson, says he has no idea what all the fuss over her accusations was about. Notice that he doesn’t claim she was lying when she said Clarence Thomas made inappropriate sexual advances to her on the job. He simply still believes “this sexual harassment crap” (as he called it at the time) did not and still does not deserve the attention people gave it.

Thankfully, Hill understood that it did, and she paid a huge personal price for coming forward with it. The documentary ‘Anita,’ which will be shown this week in Santa Cruz, as Hill comes to speak at UCSC, goes a long way toward showing what that was, and restoring the humanity to Hill’s story that people like Sen. Simpson tried to take away on national television, in front of tens of millions of people. Neither he nor Arlen Specter or Joe Biden, or any of the other men who tried to discredit Hill, could do anything to stop the revolution in our understanding of sexual harassment and other women’s issues that came out of her testimony.

What I’m most struck by is how some articles around the time of the recent anniversaries around the Clarence Thomas hearings framed their stories with headlines like “Anita Hill Defends Her Legacy.” In my experience talking to her, nothing could be further from the truth. On the contrary, she’s able to look back at those events in 1991 with a lot of insight into the manipulations and interpretations that were going on not just behind the scenes, but right in front of the TV cameras. She apologizes for nothing, and sees nothing to defend. She will not let anyone define her experience but her.

STEVE PALOPOLI | EDITOR-IN-CHIEF


letters

 

 

Bones on the Beach

For 20 years, I have been taking dogs to the Live Oak beach across from the radio towers.  My experience is that all poop is scooped, dogs socialize and inspire each other to run, there’s not barking or fighting. My vote is for no enforcement. Here’s what my dog and I can do at the beach that is not available at a dog park: we can run together. For older bones (his and mine), the smooth wet sand at the waterline is ideal for running safely, faster, easier—and enjoying it. That keeps our bones younger! Dogs running and playing at the beach is one of the happiest sights there is.

Pablo Yee, Santa Cruz

Love is Clueless

Miss Laurie King plagiarizes Sir Arthur Conan Doyle by giving Sherlock Holmes, Doyle’s iconic literary creation, a love interest—Mary Russell, who helps him investigate criminal activity. To me, Mary Russell is like giving Captain Ahab a spirited female harpoonist who helps him seek out the bedeviled Moby Dick while finding love on the high seas. I say this jokingly, but quite honestly, I find these Russell novels a crime of high degree.

Kathy Cheer, Santa Cruz

ONLINE COMMENTS

Re: Defenses Up

Oh yeah, way to buy into the terrorist hysteria, Mr. Farr. I’m sure Santa Cruz is right up there on the ISIS list of places to hit first. (Rolling eyes.) And Lockheed Martin—do you really believe terrorists would go all the way into the mountains above Boulder Creek to hit a very small, non-strategic defense contractor facility?  (They do ordinance testing up there, the little explosive charges that separate the rocket/missile stages). They’d be halfway back to the Middle East by the time that BearCat got within a mile of the place.

Moe Man

How about cops on bikes? I think for every armored vehicle, there should be 20 cops on bikes. I’ve seen SC police roll right by nefarious activity on Pacific Avenue, and another instance on Laurel Street (right by the police station!), without stopping, most likely because they are in their giant, tinted-windowed, unburstable bubbles (SUV style patrol units) and are missing the sights and sounds of actually being on the streets, observing what’s going on around them. Armored vehicles? Please. Cops on bikes, please!    

A Andrea

Re: Laurie King

The biggest draw for me while reading the Mary Russell series is that I finally have someone I can see Holmes through. An intellectual feminine prism once only occupied by “The Woman.” It never stopped me from being a fan of Holmes, but the lack of a female his equal made me hungry for more, and I couldn’t imagine how the gap could be bridged. I love seeing him evolve in an entirely faithful way. Had their relationship been sexually charged or overtly romantic, it would not have rung true to either character. King walks a tightrope … but she balances everything beautifully, respectfully to Holmes’ essence, and dynamically towards smart, exciting new stories everyone can enjoy.  

Jeanine Gravitt

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photo contest

photo-contest

PEEKING FOR AMUSEMENT A glimpse of the Boardwalk and San Lorenzo River through a rock arch at Seabright Beach. Photograph by Linda Campbell.

 



good work

PRAISE THE BOARD

Hallelujah, brothers and sisters: A local church is showering the good people of Santa Cruz with a healthy dose of humor. The marquee of the Bayside Baptist Church on the corner of Broadway and Seabright Avenue recently read, “We’re all about dat grace, bout dat grace, no devil.”

 

good idea

 

FANCY FEAST

The Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter will be celebrating “World Spa Day” with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Feb. 24. The 5 p.m. Chamber of Commerce event will be at the Cottage Shop, the shelter’s new upscale resale store, which is next to the shelter on 7th Avenue.

 

quote

“It would have been more comfortable to remain silent.” — Anita Hill

 


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