In the wake of alleged sexual assailaint Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, St. Olaf College’s Political Action Committee (PAC) and Sexual Assault Resource Network (SARN) teamed up to host a screening of the documentary “Anita: Speaking Truth to Power” on Oct. 10 in Viking Theater.
Directed by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Freida Mock, the film tells the story of Anita Hill’s testimony against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas and Hill’s legacy after the trial in a story parallel to that of Kavanaugh and Doctor Christine Blasey Ford.
“We’re using the documentary as a vehicle to expand discussion, expand the idea of who is listened to,” SARN advocate and PAC Community Engagement leader Pearl McAndrews ’19 said.
The film recounts the story of the 1991 hearing, where Hill sat before a Senate committee composed of 14 white men and recounted her story of sexual harassment at the hands of Clarence Thomas. The film also covers the aftermath of the hearing and the impact it had on Hill’s life. Despite the trial marking Hill as a potential liar and a target for death threats and angry letters, Hill has used her image to become an advocate for women’s rights and a leader against sexual harassment.
“We’re trying to show support and also depoliticize the idea that sexual assault is bipartisan, after everything that is going on,” PAC Coordinator Lilia Martinez ’20 said. “It is not a partisan issue.”
“We would have hoped for a different situation, but having these difficult conversations gets the conversations out there,” Martinez said in response to the Kavanaugh hearing.
“We wanted to show the film to both prioritize space on campus for survivors, and to have a space to discuss how factors such as race, gender, and power all impact who is heard within our society,” McAndrews said. “We also wanted to draw attention to the fact these examples aren’t and shouldn’t become normal – the voices of survivors are the ones which should always be listened to and believed.”
“SARN wanted to show the Anita Hill documentary to create a safe and open space for survivors and people who wanted to discuss current events, in reference to sexual assault and the Christine Blasey-Ford case,” SARN Co-chair Nina Hendel ’19 said. “We teamed up with PAC, because sexual assault has been political issue as of late because of the Supreme Court Justice decision. We had a good turn-out with meaningful conversations and hope to have similar events in the future.”