Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence - book cover
Legal Theory & Systems
  • Publisher : Viking
  • Published : 28 Sep 2021
  • Pages : 352
  • ISBN-10 : 0593298292
  • ISBN-13 : 9780593298299
  • Language : English

Believing: Our Thirty-Year Journey to End Gender Violence

"An elegant, impassioned demand that America see gender-based violence as a cultural and structural problem that hurts everyone, not just victims and survivors… It's at times downright virtuosic in the threads it weaves together."-NPR

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.

In 1991, Anita Hill began something that's still unfinished work. The issues of gender violence, touching on sex, race, age, and power, are as urgent today as they were when she first testified. Believing is a story of America's three decades long reckoning with gender violence, one that offers insights into its roots, and paths to creating dialogue and substantive change. It is a call to action that offers guidance based on what this brave, committed fighter has learned from a lifetime of advocacy and her search for solutions to a problem that is still tearing America apart.

We once thought gender-based violence--from casual harassment to rape and murder--was an individual problem that affected a few; we now know it's cultural and endemic, and happens to our acquaintances, colleagues, friends and family members, and it can be physical, emotional and verbal. Women of color experience sexual harassment at higher rates than White women. Street harassment is ubiquitous and can escalate to violence. Transgender and nonbinary people are particularly vulnerable.
Anita Hill draws on her years as a teacher, legal scholar, and advocate, and on the experiences of the thousands of  individuals who have told her their stories, to trace the pipeline of behavior that follows individuals from place to place: from home to school to work and back home. In measured, clear, blunt terms, she demonstrates the impact it has on  every aspect of our lives, including our physical and mental wellbeing, housing stability, political participation, economy and community safety, and how our descriptive language undermines progress toward solutions. And she is uncompromising in her demands that  our laws and our leaders must address the issue concretely and immediately.

Editorial Reviews

"To say that ‘Believing' is a sobering read is a gobsmacking understatement…Hill deftly sweeps aside the intricate web of denial, bias and institutional failures to show not only the causes of gender-based violence in America, but also their solutions. Hers is a brave, brazenly intelligent and ultimately hopeful womanifesto."-San Francisco Chronicle

"With scholarly sophistication, Hill calls out the failings of our politicians, courts, places of work and home life. . . . Hill is uniquely equipped to offer a combined scholarly and personal perspective on this subject."-Associated Press

"Anita Hill's courage on screen awakened a nation to gender violence. Now, in the pages of Believing, she shows each of us how to be courageous, too."-Gloria Steinem 

"Incisive and impassioned . . . Hill's inspiring personal history, eloquently constructed arguments, and dogged persistence in shining a light on the topic make this an essential look at the fight against misogyny."-Publishers Weekly *starred and boxed review*

"Hill's new book defies boundaries by bringing together elements of memoir with law, social analysis, and polemic-delivered with the precision of a powerful lawyer and the vulnerability of someone who became a target of merciless media scrutiny after testifying to being sexually harassed by now–Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas . . . With searing insight, Hill shows how much and how little things have changed since 1991. Her book gives hope, inspires activism, and discourages complacency."-Library Journal *starred review*

"A powerful argument that ending gender violence is an attainable goal, if only we apply ourselves to the work."-Kirkus Reviews

Readers Top Reviews

ANGIESheri CostaJ-Fu
Excellent. The book arrived before the ETA began. It is in great new. Thanks
Congratulations Dr. Anita Hill, Great Book! ♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️
Well written and thoroughly researched, reviewing a time we’d hoped had passed w hope for inching ahead despite the ongoing challenges.
This book is educational, insightful and helpful. Well written with references, stats and court cases. Certainly goes to show more needs to be done to educate and eliminate sexual harassment, sexual abuse and sexual assault. Most importantly, to respect women and equality for ALL. Anita Hill lived what many women went through in the work place. I being one of them. She had the courage to speak her truth years ago. She is highly experienced in this field to end gender violence. This book validates that women are believed when harassed, abused and assaulted much more now than in the past. Thank you to Anita Hill for standing up for women!
D. C. Christopher
Anita Hill speaks truth to power and does so in an eloquent yet light-hearted way. She knows there has been great progress but she also knows the job is far from done. She is leveling with the reader and breaking it down for us. We may think hindsight is 20/20 but she (and a ton of women like her) knew the reality decades ago. This should be required reading in high schools and corporations. Who needs a “sensitivity” course when this book lays down example after example of unacceptable thinking and behavior? This book will amaze you and shock you.

Short Excerpt Teaser


Our State of Denial

Far too many claims of gender-based violence, whether sexual assault, workplace harassment, or intimate partner abuse, are closed without a meaningful search for the truth. Often, when we do investigate, we ignore facts that are inconvenient, dismissing them as insignificant. Both failing to probe and ignoring the findings reflect a shared state of denial about the pervasive role of gender-based violence in society. And denial is more than an oversight. It is a strategy that employers, politicians, and judges employ to escape assigning accountability for addressing the problem.

Here's an example of how denial works in terms of women's health. Imagine waking up one morning with pain in your neck, jaw, back, and arms, as well as nausea, sweating, shortness of breath, and light-headedness. You call your doctor hoping to get an appointment right away, but instead he suggests that you may be suffering from anxiety. He recommends that you take an over-the-counter drug like Tums or Prilosec for the stomach problem or Tylenol for your neck and jaw pain. He insists that what you describe "doesn't appear to be too bad-nothing that a few days of rest shouldn't take care of." Your doctor is missing the symptoms of a possible heart attack. I hope you've never encountered this kind of treatment, but unfortunately others have. In the first decade of the twenty-first century, researchers discovered that women were at high risk for misdiagnosed, mistreated, or untreated cardiac arrests, in part because doctors were looking for symptoms that were more common to men-chest pain and pain in the left arm. But another element was the assumption that women were overreacting to their health concerns. As a result of social and medical biases, tests that could have revealed women's heart ailments were never prescribed. Instead, women's cardiac arrests were dismissed as heartburn or a panic attack. Women weren't getting the same quality of treatment as men, the treatment they deserved. The gender gap in treating heart disease is not new. And more than a decade after it was discovered, the gap continues to exist. As a result, women are dying or suffering from life-threatening conditions because they didn't get the proper diagnosis and treatment.

The gender gap in taking women's health concerns seriously isn't limited to heart conditions, as shown in an episode that took place at the Indiana University Health North Hospital. In 2020, in a video posted on Facebook, a Black woman physician, Dr. Susan Moore, complained that a White doctor who was treating her for COVID-19 denied her request for pain medication. Not taking Moore's word about the level of pain she suffered, he challenged her to prove that she was in as much distress as she claimed. And instead of the treatment she asked for, he recommended she be sent home. Moore eventually was treated for pain, but not as she had requested. About two weeks later, Moore died from complications of the coronavirus infection. Following a preliminary review of the case, the hospital's CEO expressed his full confidence in the "technical aspects of the delivery of Dr. Moore's care." However, he called for an external review and expressed concern that the medical team "may not have shown the level of compassion and respect we strive for in understanding what matters most to patients." So would an external review tell us why Dr. Moore didn't receive the "compassion and respect" she believed she deserved? Perhaps. Moore had attributed the rebuff to racism. But the brush-off she got could have stemmed from sexism or from racism and sexism combined. A similar disregard occurs when women complain about workplace sexual harassment and assault. And most organizations review their complaint-handling processes internally, even when there are multiple accusations against an individual. As with health issues, sexism, organizational loyalty, and a host of other biases lead some internal investigators to disrespect women who complain. Far too often, concerns go uninvestigated or are shoddily probed and dismissed as insignificant. And as with prejudging women's ability to communicate their medical conditions, when we discount women's credibility to describe gender violence, the outcomes are the same. Women suffer-regardless of whether the prejudice is overt or implicit.

"But I Don't Know the Facts"

The very first national attempt to get the facts about sexual harassment in the workplace did not come from federal agencies. In 1976, after hearing about readers' experiences, the popular women's magazine Redbook conducted a survey of nine thousand women, the first of its kind to explore the reality of women's workplace experiences. The magazine's report...