Anita Hill On Sexual Harassment In Hollywood And Beyond | New Hampshire Public Radio

Anita Hill On Sexual Harassment In Hollywood And Beyond

Sep 29, 2020
Originally published on September 29, 2020 7:51 pm

In the three years since the Harvey Weinstein story broke and the #MeToo movement took off, a new report finds that people working in Hollywood and the entertainment business say not enough has changed.

The Hollywood Commission, a nonprofit that works to eradicate harassment and discrimination, surveyed nearly 10,000 people in the entertainment industry nationwide. It found many are staying silent because they fear retaliation, or they don't believe people in positions of power will be held to account.

Anita Hill, chair of the commission, has personal experience fighting to have allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace taken seriously. In 1991, she testified under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee — led by Sen. Joe Biden — that now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her while he was her boss.

Hill tells All Things Considered the standout data from the newly released Hollywood Survey was on accountability: 64% of people surveyed said they did not think a person who was found to have harassed a subordinate would be held accountable.

In the three years that #MeToo has been in the spotlight, there have been numerous high-profile cases of powerful men losing their jobs because of their abusive, harassing or bullying behavior, but Hill says it's not enough.

"What we want to make sure is that it doesn't stop with just a few high-profile cases," she says. "We know that there are problems throughout workplaces, and we want to make sure that everybody, whatever their position is, can count on being heard."

Hill, who is a professor at Brandeis University, also talks about the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 and her endorsement of Biden, who she has criticized in the past for his role in the 1991 hearings.

The interview highlights contain some extra content that did not air in the broadcast version.

Interview Highlights

On the challenges of coming forward with allegations of abuse

There are personal costs. But even when people are willing to take the risk, there are other things that they're considering. People don't come forward because they think they won't be taken seriously. Unfortunately, the Kavanaugh hearing really gave the impression that the Senate Judiciary Committee did not take Christine Blasey Ford's claim seriously.

And people see that example and [it] becomes what they think will happen to them. They think it's not going to be taken seriously. And even if it is investigated, nothing is going to happen to the person who has violated the rules. And so you combine all of that and you have a mix where people are staying silent.

On her announcement that she plans to vote for Joe Biden

When I talk about the model of what should be happening [to address issues of sexual harassment, abuse and discrimination], I think the government should be our model. It wasn't in 1991, it wasn't in 2018.

But what we also know that in that time, between 1991 and today, we know how serious the issues that have been raised by me and by Christine Blasey Ford are. And my feeling is that this is an opportunity, with Joe Biden — who was involved in the Violence Against Women Act — to really take responsibility for charting a different course.

On whether she fully endorses Biden

I don't do political endorsements, I'm not really involved in politics. ... What I do know is that I'm making a choice about who I think can better address these issues.

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In a typical year, skiing and snowboarding in Vermont is a $1.6 billion industry. The state's largest ski association says closing early last season because of COVID-19 cost the state's resorts about $100 million. And as Vermont Public Radio's Nina Keck reports, that's why resorts are doing all they can to stay open this season.


NINA KECK, BYLINE: This time of year, the gondola in front of Killington's base lodge mostly carries hikers and mountain bikers. But in less than two months, if the weather cooperates, resort president Mike Solimano hopes skiers and snowboarders - all wearing masks and all having reserved a parking place ahead of time - will be using this lift and the nearby base lodge.

MIKE SOLIMANO: So we're in K-1 lodge right now. You can see, you know, we still have some tables to move out by the time we get ready to open. But this is going to look a lot different once we do that.

KECK: In a normal year, Solimano says Killington might have 14 or 15,000 visitors on a busy day. This winter, with COVID-19, he wants to cut that in half, and limiting access indoors will be the biggest challenge. So the bars won't be open, and food will be mostly grab-and-go.

SOLIMANO: We don't really want people to sit and drink and relax and hang out. It's actually the opposite.

KECK: A lot of people have suggested the resort just set up more tents and outdoor port-a-potties. But Solimano says they've learned from hosting the Women's World Cup races that it's not so easy to accommodate large crowds in the cold.

SOLIMANO: Nobody wants to go into a port-a-john when it's 10 degrees out. So, you know, we realize that's a good lesson learned, right? It's - that sounds great, but people don't really want to use that. So you need solutions that are actually practical.

KECK: Like using the barns where they store their gondola cars as possible warming areas. Other U.S. ski resorts will try to take the chill off with propane heaters, outdoor fire pits and windscreens. Many plan to add food trucks, and some are exploring apps that will allow skiers to reserve a table indoors or better monitor lift lines. Jamie Storrs is a spokesman for Vail Resorts, which owns 37 ski areas, including three in Vermont. He says anyone who wants to ski or ride at one of their resorts will have to wear a mask and make a reservation.

JAMIE STORRS: You know, the average person doesn't show up to the airport and go, one ticket, please, for today. We're asking guests to plan ahead a little bit more this year to make their reservations and to kind of think through when they're going to ski and to book out that time.

KECK: Jay Peak, a Vermont resort near the Canadian border, is taking a more laid-back approach to ticket sales with no reservations required and day tickets easy to get. General manager Steve Wright says normally, 50% of their business comes from Canada. And with the border closed and travel restrictions hampering some of their U.S. market...

STEVE WRIGHT: Our expectation is that there will be plenty of room to spread out here at the mountain this year.

KECK: It's a reality that's playing havoc with their budget and projected revenues, but Wright says they're hoping skiers and snowboarders concerned about the pandemic might see Jay Peak as a safer option. The ski industry is used to dealing with unpredictable weather and economic ups and downs, but a pandemic is new territory, and resort officials say flexibility will be crucial as they try to adapt.

For NPR News, I'm Nina Keck in Chittenden, Vt.