Friday, October 21, 2011

Sex, Power and Speaking Truth: Anita Hill 20 years later.

I was so happy to be able to attend this conference with thousands of other feminists on October 15th at Hunter College in New York City. The speakers were amazing and the organizers did a great job of moving the conference along to inspire and promote dialogue that will no doubt lead to more advances towards the end of sexual harassment in the years to come.

Moments I will remember include:

Charles Ogletree of Harvard (Anita Hill’s lead lawyer) remembering that Derek Bell said “We have to equalize society if we are ever going to make progress.” Lani Guinier remembering the positive side of the hearings with “…it was the first time that middle class blacks were on TV.” And my all time favorite comment from the brilliant Melissa Harris-Perry of Tulane who summed up the current focus of congress this way: “If we can just control women’s utereses there will be more jobs.”

I was inspired by the conference and today am having a first meeting of women in theatre to organize an event to address the continued lack of parity for women in theatre. The Public Theatre in NYC will not be producing any plays by women this year. They, unfortunately, they are not the only theatre doing so this season. It seems that it is one step forward and two steps back for theatre women.

Anita Hill gave the keynote. She reflected that the congressional hearings 20 years ago do not define who she is today and urged us all to reclaim our lives and live the lives that we want to.

Women and people of color in theatre must speak the truth. We must speak out against sexism and discrimination in theatre. Stay tuned for details on “Occupy Broadway”. - Aphra Behn