From the publisher: From the woman who gave the landmark testimony against Clarence Thomas as a sexual menace, a new manifesto about the origins and course of gender violence in our society; a combination of memoir, personal accounts, law, and social analysis, and a powerful call to arms from one of our most prominent and poised survivors.
I recently attended a library conference, and Anita Hill was announced as one of the speakers. The Clarence Thomas hearings seem so long ago, and I thought she must be elderly by now, but nope – she is only a few years older than me. She was 35 when she testified about the sexual harassment she dealt with from Thomas.
Hill was a powerful speaker at the conference, and I looked forward to reading her new book Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence. Although the book is certainly one of power and importance, I did not find it as effective as her speech.
The book comes across as a series of essays or speeches intended for different audiences on different occasions. It is at times unfocused and repetitive. (For example, I did not need to read more than once about the annual march through campus of Yale frat boys chanting “No means yes” or of the increased use of mandatory arbitration in employment contracts.) Occasionally assumptions are made that the reader is already familiar with something that is mentioned.
Hill is clearly an expert on the topic of gender violence and discrimination, and she uses a nice mix of statistics and anecdotes to make her case for change. She is a strong woman who put up with a lot of abuse over her testimony in 1991, although she also tells stories of people who supported her. Despite the wordiness and repetition, I still recommend Believing for people who want to know more about the topic.
From chapter 10: “[G]ender-based violence imperils our country’s health, safety, economic security, housing, transportation, and educational opportunities. It puts at risk our national security, as well as our social and political standing within this country and around the globe, and it reduces out ability to credibly advocate for human rights and gender equality.” (p. 232 of the advance reader copy)
I read an advance reader copy of Believing from Netgalley. The Large Print edition will be available in late October.
Believing is available for checkout from the Galesburg Public Library.