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October 2 1998

Playing "Trivia" with Sexual Harassment

Anita K. Blair

This Op-Ed from the Independent Women's Forum was submitted to the New York Times. The editors of the New York Times instead  chose to publish part of it as a Letter to the Editor (see below).

Whether you believe Anita Hill today, as she defends President Clinton against the high crime of sexual harassment, depends on what you mean by "trivial." In a New York Times op-ed (Sept. 30), Ms. Hill wrote, "To equate [Hill's allegations against Clarence Thomas] with [Clinton's] office affair is to trivialize issues of sexual predation that women face in the workplace and on the street."

In fact, nothing ever did more to trivialize sexual harassment than the sorry spectacle surrounding Anita Hill seven years ago during the hearings on Clarence Thomas's Supreme Court nomination. Hill came forward only at the prodding of liberal partisans. Their goal was purely political: to derail the nomination of a conservative candidate and maintain liberal power on the Supreme Court.

Given prime- time exposure on national television Hill told a bizarre, uncorroborated story about Thomas, her boss at two federal agencies. Hearing her belated complaints about off-color jokes allegedly told about 10 years before, millions of Americans wondered, "What on earth does this have to do with sexual harassment?"

Americans learned the answer from Hill and her supporters: "Sexual harassment isn't about sex, it's about power." Thus, as they told it, Hill was forced to endure the daily mortification of working for such a man, following him from job to job, because of the power he held over her. No matter that she was then a 26-year-old Yale Law graduate and he was a 32-year-old Yale Law graduate.

The Anita Hill spectacle wasn't about sexual harassment; it was about the exercise of pure partisan political power. The media circus surrounding Hill and Thomas was produced and directed by liberal operatives, including fifth-columnists like NPR's Nina Totenberg. Their rallying cry, "the personal is political," also described their strategy of finding, or manufacturing, any kind of dirt about a nominee's private background, simply to prevail over their political opposition.

Remember the catch-phrase, "They just don't get it?" Now that it's a Democrat President who doesn't get it, Anita Hill is eager to rewrite law and history. She contends that sexual conduct between a married, 50-something Leader of the Free World and an intern fresh out of college is not sexual harassment as long as it's consensual. According to Anita Hill, Bill Clinton's White House is a harassment-free workplace, where, okay, the Boss occasionally singles out one or a few female employees to give him sexual service but it is always voluntary.

Until last Monday, Hill had repeatedly stated that she never claimed Clarence Thomas actually committed sexual harassment, but only meant to raise consciousness about his character. Now, Hill unapologetically reverses that position, saying her accusations "involved sexual harassment." She complains that the Senate committee in 1991 "simply was not competent to conduct a hearing on the legal issue of whether Thomas had sexually harassed me." As Hill now sees it, Clarence Thomas's alleged mild jokes were a form of "sexual predation," compared to which the President's admitted romantic antics are mere trifles.

Thanks to Anita Hill and her friends, we know that sexual harassment is everywhere today. It happens constantly in offices, classrooms, shops, factories, police stations, firehouses and military bases. Yet, according to Anita Hill, one place in America remains safe for women: Bill Clinton's office.

It would be hilarious if it weren't so hypocritical. If anything trivializes the real problems of women who suffer sexual abuse, it is the nonsense uttered by partisan feminists as they smear their political enemies and extol their political friends, completely mindlessly and without exception.

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To the Editor:

Anita Hill ("The Thomas Lesson," Op-Ed, Sept. 28) argues that to equate the allegations against President Clinton with those made against Senator Bob Packwood and Clarence Thomas "is to trivialize issues of sexual predation that women face in the workplace." But nothing trivialized the issue more than the spectacle of the hearings on Mr. Thomas's Supreme Court nomination. Ms. Hill's accusations were not about sexual harassment but about a political attempt to derail the nomination of a conservative to the Supreme Court.

Now that it is a Democratic President who stands accused, Ms. Hill is eager to rewrite law and history by contending that sexual conduct between a married, fifty-something President and an intern is not sexual harassment as long as it's consensual. If anything trivializes the problem of sexual abuse, it is arguments like this.
 
ANITA BLAIR
BARBARA LEDEEN
Washington, Sept. 29, 1998
 
The writers are, respectively, executive vice president and executive director of the Independent Women's Forum.

Anita Hill ("The Thomas Lesson," Op-Ed, Sept. 28) argues that to equate the allegations against President Clinton with those made against Senator Bob Packwood and Clarence Thomas "is to trivialize issues of sexual predation that women face in the workplace." But nothing trivialized the issue more than the spectacle of the hearings on Mr. Thomas's Supreme Court nomination. Ms. Hill's accusations were not about sexual harassment but about a political attempt to derail the nomination of a conservative to the Supreme Court.

Now that it is a Democratic President who stands accused, Ms. Hill is eager to rewrite law and history by contending that sexual conduct between a married, fifty-something President and an intern is not sexual harassment as long as it's consensual. If anything trivializes the problem of sexual abuse, it is arguments like this.
 
ANITA BLAIR
BARBARA LEDEEN
Washington, Sept. 29, 1998
 
The writers are, respectively, executive vice president and executive director of the Independent Women's Forum.

Anita Hill ("The Thomas Lesson," Op-Ed, Sept. 28) argues that to equate the allegations against President Clinton with those made against Senator Bob Packwood and Clarence Thomas "is to trivialize issues of sexual predation that women face in the workplace." But nothing trivialized the issue more than the spectacle of the hearings on Mr. Thomas's Supreme Court nomination. Ms. Hill's accusations were not about sexual harassment but about a political attempt to derail the nomination of a conservative to the Supreme Court.

Now that it is a Democratic President who stands accused, Ms. Hill is eager to rewrite law and history by contending that sexual conduct between a married, fifty-something President and an intern is not sexual harassment as long as it's consensual. If anything trivializes the problem of sexual abuse, it is arguments like this.
 
ANITA BLAIR
BARBARA LEDEEN
Washington, Sept. 29, 1998
 
The writers are, respectively, executive vice president and executive director of the Independent Women's Forum.

Anita Hill ("The Thomas Lesson," Op-Ed, Sept. 28) argues that to equate the allegations against President Clinton with those made against Senator Bob Packwood and Clarence Thomas "is to trivialize issues of sexual predation that women face in the workplace." But nothing trivialized the issue more than the spectacle of the hearings on Mr. Thomas's Supreme Court nomination. Ms. Hill's accusations were not about sexual harassment but about a political attempt to derail the nomination of a conservative to the Supreme Court.

Now that it is a Democratic President who stands accused, Ms. Hill is eager to rewrite law and history by contending that sexual conduct between a married, fifty-something President and an intern is not sexual harassment as long as it's consensual. If anything trivializes the problem of sexual abuse, it is arguments like this.
 
ANITA BLAIR
BARBARA LEDEEN
Washington, Sept. 29, 1998
 
The writers are, respectively, executive vice president and executive director of the Independent Women's Forum.

Independent Women's Forum is an educational 501(c)(3) dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities. IWF is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Voice.​
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