From Anita Hill to Christine Blasey Ford: How far have we really come?


Expert Pitch

Leigh Gilmore, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Women's and Gender Studies at Wellesley, is the author of Tainted Witness, Why we doubt what women say about their lives. The book chronicles Anita Hill's testimony during Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas's 1991 Senate confirmation hearing and how it brought the problem of sexual harassment to a public audience. Gilmore writes that Hill and her testimony are part of a larger social history in which women find themselves caught up in a system that refuses to believe what they say. 

Twenty-six years later, Christine Blasey Ford faces a Senate similarly predisposed not to take her claims seriously that a young Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her. Gilmore can comment on how things have changed, and remained the same, since Hill's testimony. (Note: We do have access to a broadcast studio.)

 

Gilmore can also discuss, in a larger context, why are women so often considered unreliable witnesses to their own experiences? How are women discredited in legal courts and in courts of public opinion? Why is women's testimony so often mired in controversies fueled by histories of slavery and colonialism? How do new feminist witnesses enter testimonial networks and disrupt doubt?

Gilmore has also written The Limits of Autobiography: Trauma and Testimony, Autobiographics: A Feminist Theory of Women's Self-Representation, and coeditor of Autobiography and Postmodernism. She has published articles on autobiography, law and literature, and feminist theory in Feminist Studies, Signs, Women's Studies Quarterly, and Biography, among others, and in numerous collections. She was Dorothy Cruickshank Backstrand Chair of Gender and Women's Studies at Scripps College and professor of English at the Ohio State University and has held visiting appointments at Brown University, Harvard Divinity School, Northeastern University, University of California, Santa Cruz, and University of California, Berkeley.

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