Please note: This transcript has been automatically generated.

Cindi: Hey, we’re going to be talking about sexual misconduct and violence in this series and in today’s episode. Please take care of yourself while you’re listening.

Carol Moseley Braun: Because of Anita, the whole status of women changed in this country

Jane Mayer: Because of Anita. Every young woman, can work in a workplace where she can push back when her boss harasses her. 

Barbara: Because of Anita, we all feel a little bit braver and bolder and able to speak out against both racism and sexual harassment in the workplace.

Kerry: Because of Anita, we are on a journey to exercise power with more responsibility and generosity. 

Carol Mosely Braun: I’m Carol Mosely Braun.

Jane Mayer: I’m Jane Mayer.

Barbara Ransby: I’m Barabara Ransby. 

Kerry Washington: My name is Kerry Washington.

Fatima Goss Graves: I’m Fatima Gross Graves. Because of Anita, I have extraordinary hope that we can actually do better over time. 

Salamishah: Since Anita Hill testified 30 years ago, a lot has changed . There are 143 women in congress, not 31.  The Me Too movement has exploded the silence around sexual assault. Joe Biden is in the White House, not on the Senate Judiciary committee. He even, finally, called Anita Hill to apologize. But how much progress have we really made? I’m Salamishah Tillet. 

Cindi: I’m Cindi Leive. And this is Because of Anita, our four-part series about Anita Hill, and the legacy of her testimony. In this episode we’re talking about where we are right now, and where we still need to go. About the changes we need, in the law, in the media, and in our culture. On a really fundamental level, the changes we still need in how we treat each other.  

We’ll talk to three women who have new insights about all of this. Fatima Goss Graves, the president of the National Women’s Law Center, and journalist Irin Carmon of New York magazine. 

Salamishah:  First, my friend Tarana Burke. She’s the founder of the Me Too movement, which she started back in 2006, and which went viral just over a decade later.  She’s the author of the new book “Unbound,” about her life as a survivor, and an activist. The Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings in 2018 were a pivot point for Burke. A moment where her life, and her work, shifted.       

On the day Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford were slated to testify, Burke was in D.C. organizing protests in support of Dr. Ford.

Tarana: That morning in the hotel, I get a phone call very early, I’m you know, like seven o’clock in the morning or something like that I get a phone call from somebody who says they are from Dianne Feinstein’s office, Senator Feinstein’s office. And she got on the phone herself and said, I’d I’d really like for you to be there today as my guest. And I was like, you know, say no more. You know, I changed my outfit because I was going to wear some jeans and being out and out in the protest world outfit and I put on a dress and um and I got on down there.

That hearing has left such a mark on me. It was a turning point for a lot of things. It just had such a profound impact. And I think part of it relating it to Anita Hill, part of it was there had not been a figure as significant in relation to this work since Anita Hill. 

It just felt like we can’t – I don’t want to use the word squander, but that we have a responsibility in this moment. Right? That people are going to look at him being appointed as a loss for us and a win for the quote unquote them. 

And we have to, we have to take hold of that narrative so people understand that the win is happening right now. 

Salamishah: So you’ve said about those hearings that the Senate had a chance to make amends for Anita Hill, but if you don’t feel like you did anything wrong, then you don’t feel like there’s anything to make amends for. 

Tarana: I’m going to tell you, this is controversial for some people, but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. 

If the Senate doesn’t feel like they owe something to Anita Hill. They don’t feel like they owe something to Christine Blasey Ford for their service, then that’s a real problem.

I sat in that room and I watched the whole thing. Her testimony and his testimony. And I watched the faces from one side of the panel all the way to the other and I don’t know that anybody on that panel really grasped the gravity of what was happening or was invested in the the repercussions of what was happening enough. 

I think obviously on the, you know, sort of Republican side, they really just didn’t care. Right? They were, they were not even looking in her face. But even from the other side, I felt like there was like the sort of political theatrics to some degree and grandstanding. And at the end of the day, this is about this woman who was harmed and how this woman who was harmed put herself on the line for her country. Right? Like she’s the ultimate patriot. If we’re talking about patriotism the way a lot of folks try to define it in this country, how much more of a patriot can you be than to open yourself up and put your life, your livelihood, your name on the line for the good of the country? 

Because she did not have to do that, right? It wasn’t like she thought at the end of the day he was going to be arrested. She could have gone the rest of her life and not said a word. And I think that the same thing with Anita Hill. Right? She could have gone the rest of her life. And that said another word and not have her name forever attached to one of the worst moments in her life. And people don’t recognize that as patriotism. 

And they quite clearly didn’t feel that way for Anita Hill. With Dr. Blasey Ford, it wasn’t much different. But it was such a pivot for me because I was like, you know what? These people can’t make amends, because they don’t know no better. Right, these are not the people who we can look to get healing or or even accountability from. This is not what they’re built for. And this is not what they’re here for. And this is not what they’re going to do.

And so this has to be about us, the will of the people, the survivors who are looking at Dr. Blasey Ford, and saying, oh, my gosh, she’s a hero. Right. It has to be about those of us who are doing this work who say, wow, this is an opportunity to really engage more people around what’s possible for us as a movement. 

Salamishah: And you did mobilize people, right? After that, but also around the hearings themselves, too?

Tarana: I will never forget the Monday before her hearings when we called for people to leave their jobs or come outside at 12 o’clock and wear black. And it rained on the East Coast um that day. And we had like a thousand people show up to the Senate building and we sang and we chanted in the Senate building. 

And then we marched from there to the Supreme Court and people stood outside. They marched in the rain. And people – it was just like old school organizing the will of the people to stand here and say, you will not do this without somebody speaking up and saying it’s not OK. 

And the thing with sexual violence and I mean specifically around  sexual violence, right. Not just women’s rights and equal pay and other issues, I mean, around sexual violence and sexual harassment, we haven’t seen that. We get kind of couched and lumped in with other issues and people kind of run off a list of things that relate to women. But this doesn’t just relate to women. It relates to all kinds of people across the gender spectrum. And we haven’t seen it being pulled out as its own issue with people putting feet to the ground and saying this is not OK. This specifically, this behavior is not OK. And we don’t have to exist in a world where we tolerate this behavior. 

Salamishah: Tarana, you told me once that you saved Dr. Ford’s nameplate, you know that name tag from the table where she testified. Do you mind sharing that story with us?

Tarana: Yeah so that was the end of the hearing and we were still kind of milling around in that room and I saw the cleaning guy come in and he was just clearing off the space before Kavanaugh came in. And I just I saw him on the other side, so I knew he was just taking and throwing them in the bag. And I walked up and I was like, excuse me, what are you going to do this? And he’s like throw it in the garbage. I was like, ‘can I have it?’ And he said, sure, you know, he didn’t care. So I just took it and I slipped it in my bag. I just needed to have it. Something about if I had of watched him throw it in the garbage, it probably would have broke my heart. I just you know, these these women, the Anita Hill or Dr. Blasey Ford, even other survivors you know, names people don’t know, just become associated with that thing. And we forget that that thing that they’re associated with is one of the worst things that ever happened to them. And so something about being celebrated, being remembered. Being thanked, being grateful, I just wanted to preserve it, so I swiped it, put it in my stuff. I don’t mind telling the story. I mean, it’s not a federal offense, right? [00:27:20][88.4]

Cindi: So you know part of what this series is about is really looking at how far we’ve come or haven’t come since 1991 in terms of honoring and taking care of – you use the really simple, powerful phrase, women who are harmed. And maybe a place to start on that is to hear a little bit more about this pivot that you experienced how did it change how you thought about sexual violence in our ability to really do something about it?

Tarana: After the hearing, I mean, it had been it was a feeling that had been creeping up for a while. But I had an encounter with a woman in the bathroom. After the testimonies, I was just like. Really out of sorts, and so I went to the bathroom to get myself together and I went into one of the big stalls and I was like, you know, I just I don’t want to cry. I was just so out of sorts. Anyway, um I came out, this woman was there, you know, and, you know, the day of the hearing, there were people there who supported Kavanaugh too and they had on their little — So I didn’t know who she I didn’t know what side she was on essentially, right? And so she said some she recognized me and, you know, she thanked me about Me Too and blah, blah, blah. And so we started this very, you know, lovely conversation um, kind of supporting one another about how hard this moment was. And then she said to me. ‘I just wish that she remembered more. If she would just,’ she was saying, like, I wish she had a better memory. I wish she could, like, fill in the blanks so people would believe her, essentially would believe her more. And, you know, I just I just wish she could just give us more something so people understood that, you know, um what happened to her and blah blah. And I was because I was feeling emotional in that moment, I said to her, I said, you know what I’m forty four years old. And I was first sexually assaulted when I was seven. And if you talk to any of my friends, my close friends will tell you Tarana has one of the worst memories around, if you tell her something, you better write it down or text us so she can, you know, follow up because she’s going to forget. 

And I said, ‘you know why? Because I spent the better part of 40 years trying to forget. I don’t want to remember.’ You know? I don’t want to carry these memories. And the fact that she could muster up what she could muster up after 35 years or however long it was, she’s a hero. We are asking her to go grave digging in her own body. And you dare say that she should remember more for you because you need to feel better about it? 

You know, it makes me angry even now, and I mean, I just emotional when I think about it now because this woman was our ally, right? This is the person who’s on our side. And I thought, if you can’t get it. If you can only see this as a political moment or, you know, a win or a loss and not understand what this woman is doing and what we’re experiencing, we have so much more work to do. The pivot for me was I need to get back to who and where I was. I don’t want to analyze the behavior of people who cause harm. I want to stand in the gap for the people who experience harm. 

Cindi:  Thank you for sharing, that’s a beautiful and kind of devastating story. Um, you know, you you talked so compellingly about attitudes changing, and you’ve also said though, that after #MeToo in 2017 that we didn’t see, you know, millionaires and billionaires opening their wallets and saying, oh, my gosh, you know, this is a terrible public health emergency that I’m going to do whatever I can to help end. 

Tarana: For sure. I mean, we still haven’t seen it, right? I think that one, it would be really helpful if people understood the breadth and depth of sexual violence more. Um. And the thing that we have to compare it to most closely is the reckoning around racial injustice over the last several years that people kind of got it. The the pockets and the purses opened because they were like, oh, we get this, there is racial inequity, and in order to rightsize that, we have to resource the groups that are working on it 

We didn’t see that around sexual violence. you know, there was sort of the low hanging fruit of sexual harassment in the workplace, which I’m not saying flippantly at all, right, because there also was not really a national mechanism to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace. So that was a wonderful thing to happen. 

But the – if you really dig into the nitty gritty of the people who said, Me Too, this happened to me too, we are talking about survivors of child sexual abuse. We’re talking about people who have survived sexual assault on college campuses. We are talking about adults who are sexually assaulted and couldn’t tell anybody. 

And if we don’t get people to understand that disrupting rape culture is at the root of ending sexual violence, and if we don’t put resources out into changing the narrative of what people understand about both sexual violence, rape culture and survival, then it is a hindrance to us really getting our work done. There’s so many people I did this work literally out of my back pocket, we find money where we can, we scrape together. You got everything from parents to boyfriends to family members, you know, chipping in. You ask your friends to donate. That shouldn’t happen when we have 12 million people respond to a hashtag in 24 hours, they’ll — the alarm that should’ve have rung in this country to say, oh, my God, how is how is it that so many people’s lives are affected by this and we aren’t doing more? 

Cindi: Why do you think we don’t see sexual violence as a public health emergency. Why is there no cancer moonshot for sexual violence?

Tarana: Yeah, I think that we have been socialized to see it as an individual, an individual issue. I think that people still don’t understand that sexual violence is violence. It’s not, you know, sex gone bad or all of those kinds of things. And because we haven’t had models that say that this is about collective responsibility, people haven’t been compelled to see it differently. So I always use the gun violence analogy to try to help people to see it differently, that the same way that we rally around if a child is shot in the street. And, you know, in our communities, we rally around that, we rally around the parents, we rally around the issue, right. And they say, we want to have safe communities. We want our children to be able to walk through the street at night and not be shot. And that’s amazing. And that’s how we see a lot of change happen. When a child is molested in a community, we don’t see it as a death, a type of death. We don’t see how that warrants all of us to come together and say, if this child is not safe, no child is safe. We don’t feel a collective responsibility for the individuals in our community. 

This is about a shift in in understanding what we owe survivors. If we are in community together and somebody is harmed in that community, we owe them something. If it is nothing more than to hold space to make sure that they have what they need to get whole again and feel reconnected to a community – particularly in Black communities and communities of color and low wealth communities, scores of us have to live and work and worship and learn and exist in the same places we were harmed, with nobody being active in trying to make those places safe.  – you know, there was all of the Black Lives Matter fervor last year, and I remember when people started coming at me saying, you know, this is not a moment to deal with Me Too. This is about Black lives. And I thought, isn’t that funny how you categorize Black lives? Right, because if Black Lives Matter then the Black lives of survivors, particularly women who have the second highest rate of sexual violence in this country, that has to matter. 

You can’t portion it off. I would say to people all the time, just say Black men’s lives matter. If that’s what you really mean. This is a messy, messy sort of thing for people to understand and unpack 

I think when you talk about racial justice, you know, you can say them and us. There’s a clear, quote unquote, enemy. In this case, that person may look like you, that person may live with you, live next to you, live in your same community and it gets more complicated for people. So we have that’s the work. But that’s the work that we’re doing. 

Cindi: Looking now at where we are in in 2021. How do you feel we’re doing? 

Tarana: I think that the way movements work is that you have people who put their heads down and grind and grind and grind and grind and grind. And then you have a moment that brings it all together and advances us a little further than we would have advanced on our own. 

I think that’s what happened around Anita Hill. Right? And I think we’re seeing the same thing. Folks in the movement are doing a good job of painting the picture of what survival looks like. And that helps people to understand exactly the the job ahead of us. 

Salamishah: I fully agree with Tarana’s sense of optimism. But also we’re in the middle of this global COVID-19 pandemic and we’ve seen how different communities and different countries have marshaled their resources to try to end it. And gender-based violence is a global pandemic. So why is it so hard for us to marshal our resources? If every one in three women is a victim of gender based violence. Why haven’t we treated this with the courage, the compassion and urgency that this epidemic requires? 

Cindi: Yeah. Like thinking about it as something that deserves its own public response is really crystallizing because I think, you know, as she says, we still tend to think about sexual violence as a private issue like, that’s a terrible thing that happened between those two people. But as a society, really, what can we do? We kind of throw up our hands. You know, if you think about it as a public issue that we as a society have an obligation to take on, like if we’re going to fix that one in three statistic, then we need to be bringing all of our tools to bear. And one of those tools is journalism. After the break, what it’s really like to report on cases of sexual abuse – and what still makes it hard. 

Cindi: If you’re talking about changing the world we live in, you need to talk about journalism. Most cases of harassment and assault, of course, never show up in the media. But those that do can have an outsized impact. Shining a light on something doesn’t automatically fix it, but it often starts the process. On one level, we’ve come a long way in terms of reporting on harassment since 1991, when only a tiny handful of journalists, most of them women, really dug into the allegations against Clarence Thomas. In 2017, we saw the hashtag MeToo movement go viral after reporting at both the New York Times and The New Yorker exposed allegations against Harvey Weinstein. But that was four years ago. 

Irin Carmon: As these stories have piled up, I actually think that some editors have become more skeptical of them. And I think that there is now fatigue. There is Me Too fatigue at journalistic organizations. 

Cindi: Irin Carmon knows a lot about covering sexual harassment and violence. She reported for the Washington Post in 2017 and 2018, and is currently a senior correspondent at New York Magazine

Irin Carmon: Now, a big story like the governor of New York can shake people loose. But I think there’s also been enough time for the kind of backlash and skepticism that anybody who’s been following this for a long time would have expected to come a lot earlier. That that’s now kind of back with full force.

Cindi: At the Post, Carmon and her colleague Amy Brittain broke two stories about the celebrated newscaster Charlie Rose, ultimately documenting allegations from thirty five women who said Rose had harassed them at work over three decades. He denies the allegations. The charges were vivid: that Rose walked around naked in front of them. Groped them. Asked young news clerks about their sex lives.

Irin: So after we published the story of Charlie Rose, he was fired. And the word from the editors that we were working with was that we should follow up, find out who knew what. Find out if there were more.

Cindi: That follow-up reporting led them to Jeff Fager, who ran 60 Minutes, and was Charlie Rose’s boss there. 

Irin: We started hearing that his greatest champion at the network, who was at at one time the chairman of all of CBS News and was this kind of legendary executive producer of 60 Minutes, not only had known about Charlie Rose’s conduct but also had been accused of sexually harassing women and of creating an environment in which harassment was tolerated, a boys club, in which also older women were marginalized and pushed out. I mean, one of the allegations was that he had come up to a uh CBS employee at a party and said, ‘grab my dick, I’m hung like a horse.’ 

Cindi: Fager denies the allegations. 

Irin: But to make a five month long story short, ultimately, despite having documents, multiple sources, but none of those sources would put their name on it, at the very last minute, the Post’s legendary editor, Marty Baron, just felt like he could not stand behind the story. This story that we had spent months of our lives reporting and we spoke to, I think hundreds of people by the end of it was just deemed not publishable.

Cindi: What was it like to have to call some of the women who had shared their stories over what you’ve just described as a period of many months and tell them that this story was not going to run?

Irin: Well, what was heartbreaking to me was that it had taken us so long to get these women to open up to us, and we had told them all along that they could trust us, which we strove to make true every time we dealt with them and beyond. But we also told them when they said to us, ‘this man is too powerful, your story will never run.’ We said, ‘that’s not how things work at The Washington Post.’ And to be made a liar on something that, you know, these individuals had trusted us on, it gutted me. I mean, it was it was the hardest experience that I have ever had in journalism. We were made into liars and all you have is your integrity. 

To me, one of the failures of the editors at The Washington Post on this particular story was to not see a sexual harassment or assault story the same way that they saw other whistleblower stories. So, in fact, it is routine for there to be anonymous sources. At the time, every day you opened up The Washington Post and you would read an anonymous story out of the White House. So it seemed to me that sexual harassment and assault stories were being held to a completely different standard.

Salamishah: Why are those standards especially high for cases of sexual harassment?

Irin: You know, the philosopher Kate Manne talks about himpathy, the kind of disproportionate empathy that we have for for men in society, and in particular, I think she’s talking about it in the context of men who are accused. So I think powerful men are routinely extended him-pathy. They also have all the tools to fight back. They have tools to raise the price for even a well-meaning journalistic organization to just say, is this worth it? 

Cindi: mmm

Salamishah: Both as an activist and as a sexual assault survivor myself, I’ve always been struck by this empathy that you’re talking about and also identification with the people who are accused of harassment or assault and not necessarily with the victims, why do you think that identification is so easily transferred to those not just in power, but those who are being accused.

Irin: Well, the simplest answer is misogyny, but I think the more complex reason, too, is that the standards by which we evaluate credibility tend to reward winners. So if we are evaluating, why should I trust this person over another, if it’s an incident in which only two people were present, for example, Then we’re using an inherently biased system to say who is more credible, because the catch-22 here is that if a survivor was irreparably harmed by what happened to them and they went on to miss work, quit. Well, how easy is it then to say, oh, well, she’s just disgruntled, she’s just unhappy that things didn’t work out for her here. 

Salamishah: Also, I just want to say, though, how remarkable the reporting was at the dawn of Me Too. There was a radical shift in how uh survivor stories were being heard and reported, despite the fact that you were having all these battles in the newsroom yourselves. 

Irin: Traditionally journalistic organizations compete against each other. And that was certainly true in the fall of 2017. But there was also this feeling that everybody was kind of helping build on each other’s work. And one person’s work actually could help empower a source to come forward. So there was this real cumulative effect, both among the sources and the reporters. And I think it probably made editors a little braver than they are usually. There was this moment of like things will be different this time. But as 2018 kind of wore on, I think there were more reality checks, which is just that these are deeply entrenched attitudes. These are institutions that are really hostile to change. These are people who are, you know, at the top of their field in many cases. And it’s really difficult to unshake all of those things at once.

Cindi: What gives you hope that journalism and the media can do better and really perform their role and responsibility as a tool to expose and eradicate these cases? 

Irin: I think what makes me optimistic is that even though the most durable legacy journalism institutions are doing incredible work. They are not the only game in town anymore. And a lot of individuals have a lot of different ways to express what they’re thinking. You can’t put that genie back in the bottle. The pushback, the criticism, individuals telling their story on their own terms, all of those things I think couldn’t have existed in 1991. And I do think that the way that Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations were covered reflected a lot more of that nuance than the horrific way that Anita Hill was treated. Now, did it matter in the end? No, because, again, power does not want to give up its grip here. But from the point of view of how the media handled it, I do think there was more nuance. There were many more voices. And I think there were still a lot of people who were really brave, who were willing to tell these stories, even though they had a lot to lose. So that, that feels like there’s no going back on that.

Salamishah: The outpouring of voices, on social media, in magazines and newspapers, speaking out about harassment and assault – that’s not going to stop. But we want to live in a world in which harassment and assault don’t happen, period. 

Cindi: And to get there, we need more than personal stories. We need the law. One law you might have heard of is the Violence Against Women Act of 1994. It was passed shortly after Anita Hill testified. It included stronger protections against domestic violence, stalking,  and it made it easier for survivors to access services. VAWA, as it’s called, also included  a provision that allowed sexual assault survivors to sue their attackers in civil court. But in 2000, the Supreme Court struck down that provision of VAWA, in a case called US. v. Morrison. That case comes up a lot, when you talk to legal experts – losing the right to file civil suits was a big blow. 

Fatima: Morrisson both took away that important tool, but it also that language around gender based violence and our understandings of what it means to be equal in this country – that was another separate and huge blow. 

Salamishah: That’s Fatima Goss Graves. She’s the president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center, and she spends a lot of time thinking about how the courts treat women, and survivors.  She says some pieces of the law governing harassment have changed for the better,  since 1991. A little better.

Fatima Goss Graves: So we think the law should do a few things. It should ensure every worker is covered. You actually aren’t protected under our civil rights laws. there is not a legal remedy for everyone. You have to cover everyone. There’s a range of tools that employers have been using again and again to actually drive harassment more deeply in the shadows. They use things like arbitration or they make you sign these broad nondisclosure agreements before you even know what’s going to happen to you. You know, you sign a bunch of paperwork on your first day. Sometimes that paperwork is and you will never discuss anything that has ever happened to you. Well, you don’t know what’s going to happen to you. All of that is designed to keep it in the shadows, in the dark. And what we’ve learned from Me Too is we actually need it to be in the light. 

Salamishah: And so can you talk a little bit more about the Be Heard act, which I know you backed the last Congress. 

Fatima Goss Graves: It is a law that ensures all workers would be covered. It is a law that takes on some of these tools that keep harassment in the shadows. It changes the standard of what is harassment and makes it easier to prove. It also extends the amount of time people have to file complaints of harassment. Right now, it’s a really short amount of time. So you have to kind of know right away that it’s a thing you’re going to do. And very few people, is it that their experience, you know, people um may think about it. They might want to take some time. And unfortunately, depending on what state you live in, you have six months to less than a year.

Salamishah: 30 years after the year of the woman. Congress remains three quarters white and three quarters male. So do you think that demographic or the lack of diversity inhibits us from doing the work that we need to be doing around gender based violence, sexual harassment and sexual assault? [00:34:07][65.8]

Fatima Goss Graves: The idea that it doesn’t matter that we have this mostly white and mostly male legislative bodies. It does. But the other thing that we know about every type of institution is that when you change who is in the room, you change what’s on the table. So when now-VP Harris came to the Senate, she was bringing an ability to name a lot of issues that Black women were naming as giant concerns. 

The other thing is in the House in 2018, the second time you had a Year of the Women, it was a far more diverse group of women coming in. So you had the first year of the women in 1992. It was not as diverse as this one where you had historic firsts. The first Indigenous women elected, the first Latinas from states like Texas, the first Black women from New England. People were bringing very different perspectives to the conversation. I will say those women, both in 1992 and unfortunately now, they also take extraordinary heat. They are subject to a certain special vitriol that I cannot imagine. The threats against their lives for just doing their job. So I also think about what it means to be breaking the norms of how these institutions work. It makes a difference.

Salamishah: I’m gonna shift gears a little bit and I want to read a passage from Anita Hill’s new book, “Believing,” and she writes that “in 2020, a hundred years after the passage of the 19th Amendment, gender based violence persists and neither political party has a plan in place to end it.” What do you think political parties should be doing here in the United States?

Fatima Goss Graves: So I think political parties in this country were given the gift of Me Too, they were given the gift of people being willing to share their experiences to fight for change. You don’t often get that. And neither political party has put it at the top of their agenda. If you say what are the top three things you’re going to accomplish this year? Addressing gender based violence, addressing sexual violence, it’s not on their top three, so it is our task to put it on their agenda. It is our task to help them recognize that it is a gift from that movement to drive that sort of change and not in ways that are just symbolic. In ways that actually change people’s lives.

Salamishah: And then what do you think is possible in the long term?

Fatima Goss Graves: I actually think we are going to continue to see changes in our laws. I think we will see that at a state and local level. You know you often have like a domino effect if you have a handful of states move forward, all of a sudden states want to be in competition with each other. It is my great hope we will see every worker covered. I also think we are going to continue forward cultural movement. And it won’t always feel like that. Some days it’ll feel like we are just steeped in backlash, and not moving forward. But we are moving forward. And it is my deep, deep hope that when we look back in a decade from now, the types of things that were in dispute in 2021 will feel absurd.

Cindi: This is our last episode of this series. And over the months we’ve been reporting, there’s one thing that we’ve asked everybody, and that’s to complete the phrase: “Because of Anita.” Because of Anita, what happened? In your life, or in the world. We heard some of those answers earlier in the episode, and I wanted to ask you Salamishah: how would you complete that thought? Because of Anita, what?

Salamishah: You know, I saw the Anita Hill testimony when I was 16 years old, and now I’m 46 years old and I’ve grown up in this movement to end gender based violence because of my own experiences and because of what we all witnessed as a country. So I have been able to see firsthand how we have responded differently to survivors coming forward with their allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment. We believe survivors more. There are more resources, and yet I’m still concerned that that isn’t enough, that we’re not always getting at the root. But I never thought I’d see a day when so many millions of people would testify, so to speak, online with their own stories of harassment or sexual assault. And I’d never thought I’d see the day when it wouldn’t be as hard to make the case that these issues matter. So I am grateful to Anita Hill to give us the space and the forum to continue that tradition.

Cindi: Mmm. You know, if stigma and shame around survival has gone away, if it’s a little bit less for a young person now than it might have been 30 years ago. That’s a great thing. That’s a wonderful thing. If we understand better that there’s no behavior that makes somebody a more or less legitimate survivor and that all those things that Anita Hill was raked over the coals for, keeping in touch with the person who had harassed her, etc.. That is all great. What would be even better is if people, women and men, were less likely to be assaulted to begin with. I mean, I thought of this so much when Professor Hill and Dr. Ford were talking in their conversation about what they hoped the next person who came forward would face and how she or he would be treated. And I agree with all those things. And I also think that ultimately we want there to be fewer people who need to come forward. Understanding that this is something that has been part of our culture and all cultures for millennia and that it’s complex. I still think that’s the goal. That’s the goal. 

Tarana: Because of Anita, I know what courage looks like. And tenacity. And resilience. 

Kerry: Because of Anita, I am continuously inspired to walk with grace in my life.

Drew: Because of Anita, I had the vocabulary and the framework to even understand the nature of the harm that was being done to me and because of Anita, I had faith that if I told the truth, it would work out however, it was intended to work out 

Christine: If Anita had never testified it would not have occurred to me that that was even something that a person should do. When the time came, I was certain that I was going to say something. And I’m absolutely sure that i would do it again.

Cindi: That’s Tarana Burke, Kerry Washington, Drew Dixon, and Christine Blasey Ford. 

Salamishah: I’m Salamishah Tillet. 

Cindi: And I’m Cindi Leive. Because of Anita is a production of Pineapple Street Studios and The Meteor.

Salamishah: Our senior producer is Kat Aaron and our managing producer is Agerenesh Ashagre.

Cindi: This show was also produced by Justine Daum. Our associate producers are Janelle Anderson, and Xandra Ellin. Our editor is Leila Day. Our project lead for The Meteor is Rebecca Halperin. Fact-checking by Ivette Manners. 

Salamishah: Our engineers are Davy Sumner, Raj Makhija, and Hannis Brown. Special thanks to Joel Lovell and Maddy Sprung-Keyser at Pineapple Street and Kara Kearns of The Meteor. This episode features original composition by Davy Sumner, Raj Makhija, and Hannis Brown. Additional music from Blue Dot Sessions.

Cindi: Our show art is by Pentagram and our additional art is by Pixelittle. Our executive producers at The Meteor are us, Salamishah Tillet and Cindi Leive.  Our executive producers at Pineapple Street are Max Linsky and Jenna Weiss-Berman. Thank you to Tarana Burke, Irin Carmon, and Fatima Goss Graves for joining us for this episode.