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If you were alive in 1991, the televised images may still stick in your mind and your craw: the young African-American woman in the powder-blue jacket, a law professor explaining with dignified mortification to a gallery of old white politicians how the man she once worked for asked her out on dates when he wasn’t discussing hard-core pornography or his penis size. How this instilled in her a profound sense of unease, even fear, and how a man who does such a thing might not deserve to sit on the United States Supreme Court.
If you were alive then, you probably remember what happened next. The Senate quickly disbanded its investigation after Judiciary Committee chairman Joe Biden left a number of Anita Hill’s corroboratory witnesses waiting in the wings. Clarence Thomas’s nomination narrowly passed the Senate, putting him on the nation’s highest court. Hill was crucified by conservatives and right-wing journalists — David Brock memorably tarred her as “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty” before recanting his comments a few years later — while the subject of workplace harassment and sexualized office environments was finally out in the open.