Charlotte Bennett said that the new book Anita Hill’s “Believing”, which arrived in her Manhattan apartment this week, was more than just a book about gender violence.
It was a message from a sister member of a specific sisterhood — women who have spoken out to reveal misconduct suffered at the hands powerful men.
Bennett’s harassment story by New York Governor. Andrew Cuomo’s story of harassment by the New York Governor led to his resignation. An investigation revealed that he had harassed at most 11 women. This month marks 30 years since Hill testified in front of a skeptical Senate Judiciary Committee about Clarence Thomas’s sexual harassment of her.
Bennett, 26, said that he couldn’t even imagine what it was like to do that in 1991. “I have thought about it a lot.”
Hill’s past predates the #MeToo movement. This broad social reckoning against sexual harassment reaches its fourth year mark. Bennett believes that #MeToo has been a significant part of the change since Hill’s 1991 disclosure.
Bennett stated in an interview that he would like to believe that we are believed. The difference is that we aren’t convincing our audience that something happened or trying to convince them that it affected us. It’s not about belief. I’d like to believe we are in a position where we don’t need to apologize.
Bennett, a Cuomo-era health policy aide, felt that she was part a group of survivors who were there for each other.
Bennett stated that she was afraid to speak out. “But what reassured me in that moment was the fact that there were other women before me… (it wasn’t Charlotte against the governor, it was a movement, going forward. I am just one small part of the reckoning with sexual misconduct in workplaces and elsewhere.
Bennett doesn’t feel alone in feeling the shift. According to a new poll, 4 years after actress Alyssa Milano posted a viral tweet inviting anyone who had been harassed or attacked to share their stories or reply “Me too”, most Americans believe the movement has increased the number of people speaking out against misconduct.
According to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 54% of Americans say that they are more likely than others to speak up if they have been a victim to sexual misconduct. 58% of respondents said they would be open if they saw it.
Sixty-two per cent of women stated that they are more likely than men to speak out when they have been the victim of sexual misconduct. This is compared to 44% for men. Sixty-two percent of women are more likely to speak out than their male counterparts if they are witnesses, 63% vs. 53%.
Sonia Montoya (65), Albuquerque used to laugh at the sexist talkter at her truck repair shop, where she was the office manager and the only woman for 17 years. She was fed up with the way Donald Trump talked about women in 2016, when news broke. She demanded respect and was met with a change by her colleagues, which lasted until the #MeToo movement became a reality.
“It used (at work) to be brutal, the manner people spoke. Montoya, who was a poll participant and described herself as an independent voter but also a moderate political leader, said that it was raw. “The guys have become more respectful since the awareness and movement has been made. They think twice about what they are saying and act accordingly.”
Justin Horton is a 20 year-old EMT from Colorado Springs. He attends a local college and said that he witnessed attitudes change during the #MeToo explosion in his senior year.
He believes it is easier for men to treat women with respect than ever before, despite the fact that they are often criticized in a society. He hopes that people will realize that sexual harassment can also occur to men.
He said, “I feel like it has had a lasting effect.” “I feel that people are more self-aware.”
Nearly half of Americans believe that recent attention to sexual misconduct has had positive effects on the country. This is roughly double the number who say it’s had negative impacts, which is 45% vs 24%, according to the poll. The impact of the movement was debated by Americans as recently as January 2020.
There are still signs that the impact has not been equal. Fewer Americans see positive changes for women of color than women overall. This is in line with the criticisms that #MeToo has been less inclusive for women of color.
#MeToo founder Tarana Burch said that “we haven’t moved nearly as much” in the area in an interview with The Associated Press last month.
The AP-NORC poll also revealed generational differences. Americans younger than 30 years old said that they are more likely to speak up if they are victims of sexual misconduct, 63% versus 51%. 67% of people under 30 stated that they are more likely than 56% to report on sexual misconduct.
Speaking out comes with a cost. Bennett stated that Cuomo has resigned but is not taking full responsibility for his actions. Her struggle continues.
She said, “He’s still willing and able to discredit us.” “And I am at an exhausting point. It was a terrible experience.
Bennett claims that Cuomo, 63, made comments about Bennett’s college experience. He also asked her about her sexual relationships and asked Bennett if he was okay with women in their 20s. Cuomo claims he never made sexual advances on Bennett and said his questions were meant to be friendly and understanding of her past as a survivor. Cuomo has denied the allegations of inappropriate touching made by other women, including one aide who claimed he groped her breast.
What is Bennett doing two months later? She pauses and says, “I’m doing okay. Every day is difficult.” It’s very sad. It takes a little of you. But… But… I would always make the same decision every time. My reason for being in public service was to give back, do the right thing, and contribute. It was not what I expected, but it became that. That’s okay. I’m proud to have come forward and will get through it.
She wonders where the country will be in three decades.
She said, “I believe that reflecting on Anita Hill’s experience is an excellent way to understand how long thirty years is.”
“So, what do you think the next major change will be?” It’s not about apologizing that you are inconvenienced. I could just sit there and apologize. But, I want to move to a place where we aren’t apologizing and where it’s our responsibility to speak up if we have the ability.
She said that #MeToo should not be a “soft landing spot” for all women who come forward, but a community.
Bennett stated, “It should be where leaders come.” “We understand how institutions work. We are the best at understanding the inner workings of these institutions. There are many solutions and we should all be there.
“It should be OUR place.”