film review: ‘anita’ – she spoke up so our voice could count at the table

April 1, 2014

Anita – Speaking The Truth To Power is an independent film directed by Freida Mock. The movie confronts multiple layers of the sexism Anita Hill experienced in the workplace. In 1991, when she accused then U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, what made it difficult for Hill to tell her story was the belittlement of her legitimate place as a woman in society. However, she understood that speaking up about her experience was much bigger than herself. She understood that it was about standing up for all women regardless of race or socioeconomic status.

By Priscilla Ward, AFROPUNK Contributor *

Hill first testified in front of an all white all male senate judiciary committee on October 11, 1990. She expressed that she had experienced repeated acts of sexual harassment while working for George Bush’s Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. It was unfair then and still is today.

The American Association of University Women defines sexual harassment as, offensive or pervasive conduct in the workplace related to a person’s sex that negatively affects a reasonable person’s employment. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

By telling her story, Anita Hill transformed the conversation surrounding sexual harassment in the workplace. The release of the Anita movie is bound to cause some riff-raff in Washington D.C. Some conservatives still are against Hill, as well as some Democrats including Vice President Joseph Biden Jr., who lead the hearings.

Mock doesn’t shy away from giving us an accurate account of the way in which Hill’s lived experience impacted her on multiple levels. Hill had to go to the hospital on account of the workplace stress she encountered. However, the court claimed that she was making it all up.

The language which the judicature used was an attempt to discredit Hill. The court asked Hill to share her testimony in several different ways, in an attempt to cause Hill to sound more and more illogical. They belittled the woman in a blue dress, with hair pressed and mild mannered temperament. This could have been any woman; the court chose to discredit the legitimacy of cases of sexual harassment. In an interview with HuffPost Live Hill speaks about how Thomas would have never been confirmed “If I had been a blonde female,” Hill said.

The information Hill delivered was clear, as well as confirmed by various witnesses. While some still alleged that Hill was simply making everything up to get attention and to boost her career.

The movie opens with the audio of Clarence Thomas’ wife Ginni Thomas’ deranged 2010 voice mail message, asking professor Hill to “consider an apology and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband. So give it some thought. I certainly pray about this and hope one day you will help us understand why you did what you did. OK! Have a good day!”

Hill sat in her office and listened to the message, she could have shrunk back but she chose to go to bat. There were those who told her that you don’t do this to a brother, but it was not about that. It was about standing up for voices of women. Hill spoke to the HuffPost Voices and said, “It’s about how do we create a fair process.”

Today Hill is a professor of social policy, law and women’s studies at Brandeis University. Anita opened on March 21 in theaters in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York.

For more information about showtimes or to organize a screening, visit


* Priscilla Ward is a DC native and microwaved New Yorker. She enjoys keeping an active pulse on the arts, entertainment and cultural scenes of DC, New York and Philadelphia. She also freelances for Brooklyn Exposed and She aspires to one day have her own cartoon. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @Macaronifro.