Katrina vanden Heuvel
on October 2, 2012
A little more than 20 years ago, Anita Hill sat before a panel of 14 U.S. senators, all male, who aggressively questioned her claim that she had been sexually harassed by then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. As the nation watched the hearings, riveted and repulsed, one Washington state senator couldn’t help but ask herself: “Who’s saying what I would say if I was there?”
The answer? No one — there were only two women in the Senate at the time and neither was on the Judiciary Committee. And so, in 1992, Patty Murray, the self-proclaimed “mom in tennis shoes,” laced up and ran for U.S. Senate. The Anita Hill effect spawned the “Year of the Woman,” when 19 women won seats in the House, and four women, including Murray, won in the Senate.
Two decades later, a slew of Republican attacks on women, women’s health and women’s economic futures might just turn 2012 into another “Year of the Woman.” To understand why, it’s worth recapping this year’s parade of anti-women horrors.
News broke in late January that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast cancer foundation would stop providing funds to Planned Parenthood for cancer screenings for low-income women. After facing the wrath of its supporters for politicizing women’s health — while Planned Parenthood was showered with donations — Komen quickly reversed its decision.