HBO’s Confirmation, Silence & Sexual Harassment


[Note: I know this movie came out in April. But when I originally planned to publish it, Prince died. *cries purple tears* So you, know, there that went. But yesterday, I read this post on VSB and one of my Facebook friends mentioned that Clarence Thomas probably puts sugar on his grits. Since he seems to be trending this week, I figured there was no time like the present to post this.]

I have no love for Clarence Thomas. He’s Uncle Ruckus with a law degree. He’s also really bad at his really important job. If the racial draft were a real thing, the black delegation would gladly trade him for Gary Owen and the white half of Amber Rose. But the thing that people over 30 really know Uncle Thomas for is the confirmation hearings spurred by Anita Hill’s allegations that Thomas sexually harassed her during the time they worked together. If you’re not familiar you can learn more about all the nasty little details here.

Last night I watched Confirmation starring Kerry Washington (a.k.a. Olivia Pope a.k.a the GOAT of keeping her personal life a secret) and Wendell Pierce (a.k.a. Bunk Moreland a.k.a. sometimes violent Hillary Clinton supporter) on HBO, which tackles that topic head on. I was only about 6 years old when the hearings went down, but I was well informed for that age. I watched the news with my family every night and flipped through the newspaper every morning. But I was a kid, so I wasn’t exactly sure what sexual harassment was or what those hearings meant as a whole. What I remember well is the way Anita Hill was portrayed in the media. By the end of the whole thing, the narrative seemed to suggest she was a liar.

I thought the movie was pretty good. Wendell Pierce breathed a little life into the lethargic sack of potatoes that is Thomas. Washington turned out to be a great choice to play Hill. Joe Biden was very convincingly played by Greg Kinnear, though he wasn’t presented in such a favorable light. It makes me wonder if this movie is the reason he chose not to run for president. But I digress.

What really stuck out to me, which I didn’t know before was that Anita Hill did not want to go public with her accusations. She was subpoenaed and had no choice. By being forced to share her story, the very thing she did not want to deal with happened anyway. She was flat-out dragged in the news. Her testimony was dismissed by a male-dominated Congress that was going to make sure their boy Clarence would be nominated by any means necessary. I hadn’t really given it much thought whether she was actually telling the truth or just a bitter ex-employee trying to take a good black man down. Maybe I should have.

I have been sexually harassed more times than I can count. What I now am able to identify as harassment, I used to view as simple male-female interaction. It’s that common, that omnipresent. For me, it was as natural as breathing air to be judged by my appearance or be minimized because of my gender. And my race. Being a black woman in America is complicated and exhausting. There’s levels to this shit.

Early in my working life, a male superior thought it was appropriate to make questionable and unprofessional comments and insinuate that I could benefit from dating an older man (him). He would tell me how terrible I was at my job, but turn around and let me know how much he appreciated me, sometimes in the same day. He threatened my job if I ever said anything to anyone. He even told me that if I had the balls to tell anyone, no one would ever believe me.

He was probably right. That, my friends, is why women stay silent when they are harassed on the job. I was just an intern, an easy target for that type of manipulation. But Anita-she was and is an accomplished woman. At the time she was a law professor. She had accomplished so much. Her character was pristine and she was respected by her peers. And she was still dismissed.

Speaking out, especially against men with influence and power, often means jeopardizing your career. I haven’t spoken up in instances where I probably should have. Like Ms. Hill, I was fearful of the consequences and fallout. However, I want you to consider this quote and I will do the same if I am faced with this situation again. Zora Neale Hurston once said, “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”

What I know for sure is that no job is worth the value of your soul.

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    Mimi Green
    June 1, 2016 at 12:18 pm

    I’ve been meaning to watch this. I will watch it tomorrow while at work. lol I’m so thankful I’v not had to suffer in silence in the office. I’ve not had any crazy encounters that might cause me to knee someone.

  • Reply
    June 1, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    I haven’t seen this movie yet but like you said being a Black Woman in this country is a challenge to say the least. We are often looked over and our cries go unheard. This is why I’m so big on connecting and building relationships with women like me.

  • Reply
    June 1, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    This is on my summer to watch list for sure!

  • Reply
    June 1, 2016 at 9:10 pm

    I caught this at the end. I meant to search and DVR it because from what I saw it was good.

  • Reply
    Jay |
    June 1, 2016 at 9:27 pm

    I’ve spoken up in situations with knowing there would be consequences. In the end, I felt better for doing so.

  • Reply
    Tia @ FinanciallyFitandFab
    June 1, 2016 at 9:41 pm

    I haven’t seen this movie yet either. However, I will def be checking it out later in the summer.

  • Reply
    June 2, 2016 at 9:36 am

    I really want to see this. Thankfully I haven’t had anyone working with me sexually harass me, but there have been occasions where I’ve felt uncomfortable around customers. I don’t play, I go right to my supervisor and let them know.

  • Reply
    Arnitris Strong
    June 2, 2016 at 9:40 am

    I loved this movie. It brought up a lot of the feelings surrounding this confirmation. I think way more women than will ever tell have endured this type of treatment. Kerry Washington did an excellent job, and Wendell Pierce nailed his performance as well.

  • Reply
    June 2, 2016 at 9:59 am

    I still haven’t seen this yet. Don’t have cable, but maybe it will eventually come on hulu or Netflix.

  • Reply
    SocaMom® (@SocaMomDC)
    June 2, 2016 at 6:55 pm

    I remember this trial on TV as a kid. I read more about this as an adult and come to find out she is the brilliant attorney, and HE is the jackass. I will have to watch with the HBO app I grabbed to watch Lemonade. LOL

  • Reply
    June 3, 2016 at 10:09 pm

    I will be searching On Demand for this movie. I really need to hear this story. Hate how she was painted in the media.

  • Leave a Reply