From awareness to action

first_imgAnita Hill’s work isn’t done. In 1991, she started a national conversation about sexual harassment. Now, she says, it’s time for that conversation to move “beyond awareness to consequences” for harassment and gender violence.October 1991 was, of course, the month of the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. When Hill, then a law professor at the University of Oklahoma, stepped forward to give testimony regarding Thomas’ behavior toward her as her boss at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, the result was an uproar. The all-white, all-male Judiciary Committee’s cross-examination of Hill made her an instant hero to feminists and civil rights activists, while others vilified her.At Harvard Law School’s (HLS) Wasserstein Hall on Wednesday, Hill, along with her legal adviser back then, Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree, and Nan Stein, senior research scientist at Wellesley’s Centers for Women, came together to view a screening of the 2013 documentary “Anita,” and to talk about what has changed since 1991 and what has not. The conversation and a follow-up question-and-answer session with audience members were moderated by former New York Times executive editor and current Harvard English Department lecturer Jill Abramson.Over the 80-minute conversation, the panelists discussed a variety of topics related to sexual harassment, including domestic abuse, sexual violence on college campuses, incest, male-on-male harassment, the #yesallwomen social media movement, and the current controversy surrounding the NFL’s attitude toward domestic violence among its players.“We didn’t know where the conversation was going” in 1991, said Hill. “But we have learned that we’re talking about a range of behavior. And at the root of that behavior is misogyny and violence.”Hill, on sabbatical from her position as a professor of law, social policy, and women’s studies at Brandeis University, said she is currently doing work related to the thousands of letters she has received since the hearings. Watching the hearings, she said, women were “finding their own voices … They had struggled for years and years and years, and, viewing the hearing, they had a focal point.” The hearings made clear, she said, that “This is what inequality looks like.”They also, she said, “allowed people to be very emotional about and very demonstrative about what harassment was like, how it felt, and why it was so terribly wrong.”“Anita,” by Academy Award-winning documentarian Freida Lee Mock, was a stark reminder that in 1991 there was no working vocabulary for the topic of sexual harassment. In the film, the senators fumble awkwardly, with Republicans trying to discredit Hill’s testimony, while Thomas cows Democrats with the assertion that he’s the victim of a “high-tech lynching.” Thomas eventually was confirmed to the high court.In one of the more touching moments in the film, Ogletree relates a late-night phone conversation he had with his then-12-year-old daughter during which she said, “Daddy, I believe Anita.”“It took me out of that room,” Ogletree said after the HLS discussion. “It made me see the hearing in another context — that of my family, of my community, the world.”Hill talked about various “entry points” in the evolving conversation about harassment, from the #yesallwomen movement to the video of NFL player Ray Rice punching his then-fiancée, and even the male-on-male harassment revealed in the culture of the NFL through its report on the Miami Dolphins.“We’re trying inch by inch to move forward,” said Hill. “But I don’t think we’ve really taken the time we need to have a thoughtful effort to move us beyond where we were in 1991. How do we put all of those pieces together, all of that conversation, and move forward? … How do we take the conversation beyond just talk? We are at a point of awareness, but being aware of a problem is not a solution.”last_img read more

US announces $8bn coronavirus funding, testing underway on cruise ship

first_imgUS lawmakers passed an emergency $8.3 billion spending bill to combat the coronavirus Thursday as health workers boarded a cruise ship held off the coast of San Francisco to test sick passengers and crew.The Senate gave sweeping bipartisan support to the funding a day after the House passed the bill, so that it could be quickly sent to the White House for President Donald Trump’s signature.”The American people are looking for leadership, they want assurance their government is up to the task of protecting the health and safety,” said Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy. One of the passengers contacted by AFP said there was no panic on board and people seemed to be taking the setback in stride.”I can’t get over how the news is sensationalizing our ship,” said Carolyn Wright, 63, a professional photographer from New Mexico. “There were two cases on the previous cruise and they act like everybody on board has the plague.”She said passengers were told around midday on Thursday to remain in their cabins and that test results would be released early Friday.The Grand Princess belongs to Princess Cruises, the same company which operated the Diamond Princess — the coronavirus-stricken ship held off Japan last month from which more than 700 people tested positive and six died. School closures and teleworkingOn Thursday, Washington state officials announced a jump in cases, from 39 to more than 70. Eleven of the 12 deaths have been reported there, with the other in California.Tech firms in Seattle like Amazon, Facebook and Google were telling employees to work remotely, as was Microsoft in nearby Richmond.Some schools in the state have also decided to close for a couple weeks and hold classes online.Vice President Mike Pence, the White House pointman on the crisis, was due to visit the state.US officials continue to stress that the overall risk to the public remains low and are urging people not to panic or buy masks — which could create a shortage for those who require them.The scientific data so far shows that elderly people and those with underlying conditions are most at risk of serious illness and the majority of deaths have occurred in a Seattle-area nursing home. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has surged, particularly in northwest Washington state where another person succumbed to the illness, bringing the US death toll to 12. There have been more than 180 confirmed cases nationwide, according to an AFP tally.Health workers meanwhile began testing 35 or so people on board the Grand Princess cruise ship who have shown flu-like symptoms, after one 71-year-old man who was on a previous voyage died from the virus.There are nearly 3,500 passengers and crew on the vessel, which cut short its voyage back from Hawaii after the passengers began to fall ill.Though not everyone was being tested, they will be isolated once the ship is finally allowed to dock, an official said.center_img Nurses union slams preparation But the largest nursing union in the US denounced Thursday the “disturbing” lack of preparation at many hospitals.Nurses are working without necessary personal protective equipment and lack education and training for handling the disease, said National Nurses United director Bonnie Castillo.”It is not a successful strategy to leave nurses and other health workers unprotected,” she said.Earlier, a top health official said the overall mortality rate for the novel coronavirus was lower than previously thought.”The best estimates now of the overall mortality rate for COVID-19 is somewhere between 0.1 percent and one percent,” Admiral Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary of health said at a news briefing.He explained the new figure, far lower than previous estimates of 2 to 5 percent, by saying that there had been a significant underreporting of cases. Topics :last_img read more