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Anita Hill to John Oliver: ‘I’ve had my life turned upside down’

Warning: Video contains explicit language

Commentator John Oliver recently conducted an extended interview with Brandeis University professor Anita Hill, which aired on the latest episode of “Last Week Tonight.”

Sunday’s show focused on sexual harassment in the workplace, and whether society has made progress in confronting it.

Oliver said that many of the same things being said now were said in the early 1990s, when notable sexual harassment cases, including one involving Hill, captivated the public.

Hill accused her former boss, Clarence Thomas, of continued sexual harassment and testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in October 1991, after Thomas had been nominated to serve on the Supreme Court. The Senate approved Thomas’s nomination by a 52-48 vote.


“I’ve had my life turned upside down,” said Hill, referring to life after her testimony on Capitol Hill.

Ten minutes of Oliver’s interview with Hill aired on Sunday’s show.

Hill said men can’t play a passive role if they witness sexual harassment. “We need you to step up. At this point in time, there are no innocent bystanders.”

Other thoughts from Hill:

On women falsely accusing men of sexual harassment: Hill said false accusations are not widespread. “We don’t need to make rules around the things that rarely happen until we finish up making the rules around the things that are happening regularly.”

On her 1991 testimony and senators’ line of questioning: “Much of what I heard that day was familiar in tone. The questions were different, but the tone was really something that was all too familiar.”

On her optimism for further change in the workplace: “I have seen people step up. I’ve heard from women whose lives changed because things happened differently when they went forward with their complaint than they would have expected it to happen years before.”


On thoughts that she used the testimony to make a name for herself: “I had a plan for doing that that would not have involved the hurt and harm that was done not only to myself, but certainly to my friends and family and the people who were behind me.”

You can view the interview at the top of this story.

Sean Smyth can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @smythsays.