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Monday, April 25, 2016


Who do you believe? Him or her?

During my years as an adult educator, I taught many subjects. Though I didn't keep track, I'm reasonably sure I logged the most hours teaching sexual harassment.

All the sexual harassment classes I taught were mandatory; this might help explain why I regularly encountered participants who were openly hostile to the topic. Watching "Confirmation" - a recent HBO movie about Anita Hill's allegations of her experiences working for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas when both were employed at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission - brought me right back to my teaching of this volatile subject. The film expertly depicts the same hostility I experienced trying to educate people about what is and isn't respectful behavior in the workplace, legality aside. Also, the cinematic portrayal of the dismissive attitude the Senate Judiciary Committee took with Hill as she spoke reminded me of how cavalier some folks in my classes could be about this issue.

The question opening this post is posed by one congressional staffer to another near the end of the film. When I taught sexual harassment, I frequently asked a less loaded question to start my classes - "What do you think contributes to the different way men and women often perceive what is or isn't sexual harassment?" So, what do you think? And how much progress do you think we've made on this issue since the Hill-Thomas hearings?      

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