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Anita Hill struck by Kavanaugh’s anger versus accuser’s calm

September 28, 2018
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Anita Hill answers questions during a forum on Friday, Sept. 28, 2018 in Houston. Hill says one of the things that stood out to her from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's hearing was how his emotional and angry testimony compared to the calm testimony of the woman accusing him of sexual assault. (Elizabeth Conley /Houston Chronicle via AP)

HOUSTON (AP) — Anita Hill says one of the things that stood out to her from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s hearing was how his emotional and angry testimony compared to the calm testimony of the woman accusing him of sexual assault.

Hill gave Senate testimony in 1991 about her allegations of sexual harassment by then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. Hill spoke Friday at the Grace Hopper Celebration, a gathering of women technologists in Houston, one day after Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Ford, a California psychology professor, has accused Kavanaugh of pinning her in a locked room at a party and trying to assault her more than three decades ago, when they were in high school. Kavanaugh forcefully denied the allegations and accused Democrats of trying to smear him.

Hill noted that during Thursday’s hearing, Kavanaugh “was able to express a real anger, an aggression, as well as a lot of emotion.” No female Supreme Court candidate, she said, “would ever have the license to express (herself) in that way.”

“We still have so far to go in terms of the power that he had and the license that he had ... to cry or to be angry,” she said.

Hill says she was impressed with Ford’s demeanor and her careful responses to questions. She said she recognized Ford’s fear but also her openness to “share it in a setting where she didn’t want to be.”

“At the end of the day, I certainly believed her,” Hill said.

Thomas ultimately was confirmed by the Senate.

As Hill spoke in Houston, a key Republican, Sen. Jeff Flake, announced he supported Kavanaugh but called for a delay of up to a week to further investigate Ford’s allegations. The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate.

Hill says the U.S. has evolved in the 27 years since she and Thomas testified, and there is a greater understanding of gender dynamics and sexual misconduct due to the #MeToo movement.

Asked what she would tell Ford about how to live her life going forward, Hill said she could only advise her to be “authentic and do what feels right for you to do.” Hill noted, wryly, that when she started giving speeches after her 1991 testimony, some people criticized her talks as boring. “I said, ‘That’s who I am,’” Hill said.

She added: “Don’t do anything that’s going to dehumanize you and cause you great pain and trauma.”

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Associated Press reporter Jamie Stengle in Dallas contributed to this report.

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