2019 Wellesley College Commencement Speaker Anita Hill Spoke Candidly About Sexual Assault To An All-Female Graduating Class

Breaking down the system that protects sexual harassers is the only solution.

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| June 01 2019,

6:28 pm

Anita Hill spoke openly and frankly about the reality of sexual misconduct while speaking to students at Wellesley College.

Hill addressed graduates at the private women's college Friday in a moving and topical commencement speech. The Brandeis University law professor used her experience as a victim of sexual harassment to give women preparing for life beyond college a wake-up call.

In 1991, Hill made national headlines for bravely speaking out against sexual harassment. During the confirmation hearings of now- Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Hill alleged he engaged in unwelcomed sexual advances when they were colleagues at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission  

“Unfortunately, sexual harassment, abuse and assault do not end with college days,” she told students. 

The 62-year-old academic spoke candidly about the #MeToo movement and how powerful men protect themselves. 

“And yet, there are those who would have us believe that the stories and statistics, showing the prevalence of sexual misconduct are a hoax,” Hill added. “They prefer to believe in their own myths, often misogynist, about the behavior.”

Men such as Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein and others have benefited from powerful benefactors and power structures. Their accusers' stories tend to be overlooked and dismissed. 

In many cases, the accusers are also protected by other women. According to CBS News, Former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who was on the legal team with Hill during the 1991 hearings, said former Vice President Joe Biden has apologized enough for dismissing Hill's allegations.

"Has he done enough to express regret and apologize? I think he has," Napolitano said. "I don't know what more we can expect from the vice president in this area."

Biden, who oversaw the hearings, has since apologized for seemingly questioning the validity of Hill's claims. However, the 62-year-old feels the apologies were not sufficient enough to undo the treatment she endured. 

Hill reminded the all-female class of graduates that structures that enable sexual misconduct need to be torn down. 

“And despite the evidence, sexual misconduct deniers have friends in high places," she said.“So the problem is not just the behavior, it’s the enabling that goes along with it ... We are louder than they are ... and we are ready to take them on.”