Anita: Speaking Truth to Power

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Anita: Speaking Truth to Power Movie Poster Image
Riveting docu may inspire discussion of sexual harassment.
  • NR
  • 2013
  • 77 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

This movie shows, through the example of Anita Hill, the importance of not remaining silent in the face of injustice and speaking out when inappropriate behavior has occurred. Integrity and courage are major themes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

By speaking out against the sexual harassment she experienced, Anita Hill exhibited an extraordinary level of bravery, which, although it led to personal vilification during the time she spoke out, ultimately led to many other women speaking out about sexual harassment in the workplace.

Violence
Sex

During her testimony, Anita Hill discusses the sexual harassment she experienced. She goes into detail about how Clarence Thomas talked about his penis size, pornographic movies, the pornographic actor "Long Dong Silver," and a time when he asked her, "Who put this pubic hair on my Coke?" These experiences are discussed time and again in the documentary.

Language

This film shows the actual testimony Anita Hill gave during the Clarence Thomas nomination proceedings in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and, as she discusses the sexual harassment she experienced, she repeats things Thomas said around her, with references to pornography, pornographic actors, pubic hair, and penis size.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Anita: Speaking Truth to Power is a 2014 documentary about the woman who ignited a firestorm of controversy when she testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee that she was sexually harassed by Supreme Court Justice nominee Clarence Thomas. It shows footage from the hearings, in which Hill discusses things Thomas said to her about sex, pornography, pornographic actors, pubic hair, and penis size. It discusses how the hearings led to more discussions on sexual harassment in the workplace, as well as race and gender relations (Hill, an African-American woman, testified in front of an all-white Senate Committee, and Thomas was only the second African-American Supreme Court nominee). It's a fascinating if downright shameful chapter in our nation's history and should be seen by mature teens who were too young to have witnessed it firsthand. Although Republican families might find much to disagree with, this documentary should inspire discussion on appropriate behavior in the workplace and in life, no matter the political affiliation.

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What's the story?

ANITA: SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER tells a story that begins in the fall of 1991 when Clarence Thomas was nominated by George H.W. Bush to the Supreme Court. A former coworker of his, Anita Hill, was subpoenaed to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee to talk about her experiences being sexually harassed by Thomas. Her testimony, in front of a group of older and all-white senators (Hill, like Thomas, is African-American), created a firestorm of controversy that led to unprecedented levels of discussion of sexual harassment in the workplace, as well as relations between genders and races. This documentary explores that time, how Hill was thrust in the middle of the controversy, what Hill has been up to since then, and the positive effects of her testimony in the years since, as Hill has come to be seen as an icon in the feminist movement.

Is it any good?

This is an incredible documentary chronicling an extraordinary moment in America's history. It was a time when sexual harassment was supposed to be kept in the closet and a group of older, all-white senators seemed incapable of comprehending what they were hearing.

Watching Anita: Speaking Truth to Power is a somewhat maddening experience, as the audience revisits the blistering criticism Hill endured during those hearings in the fall of 1991 as she stepped into a political firestorm, but it ultimately gives us cause for hope, as so many women since then -- as a direct result of Hill's testimony -- now are elected to higher offices, report sexual harassment when it happens in the workplace, and consider Anita Hill a hero for her bravery in stepping forward to speak out about the harassment she endured.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how information is presented in Anita: Speaking Truth to Power. How does footage from that time and interviews with those who were there work together to tell the story?

  • What surprised you the most about this chapter in America's history?

  • If supporters of Clarence Thomas made a documentary about these events, in what ways would it be different?

  • How does Anita: Speaking Truth to Power promote integrity and courage? Why are these important character strengths?

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