Amid allegations that women’s groups have been hypocritical for failing to offer support to Paula Jones in her sexual harassment suit against President Clinton similar to that offered to Anita Hill, Feminist Majority president Eleanor Smeal has publicly clarified the distinctions between the two cases. “What is before the Supreme Court today is the power of the presidency, not sexual harassment law,” said Smeal. However, the attorneys for Paula Jones have been casting things in a different light. Gil Davis and Joe Cammarata have taken the time the weekend before and day of the Supreme Court hearing to attack feminists on charges of hypocrisy. This strategic attack on feminists has been pursued since the beginning of this case.
Since Jones’ press conference in 1994 when she levied her charges against Clinton, Jones has been surrounded by right wing opponents of women’s rights who have attacked feminists. Supporting Jones have been a plethora of right wing organizations including the Landmark Legal Foundation, which supported Clarence Thomas’ nomination to the Supreme Court and the Legal Affairs Council, which raised $300,000 for the defense of Oliver North during the Iran-Contra scandal.
“Hypocrisy,” exclaimed Smeal, “look at the people who brought Jones to the public eye — Floyd Brown, director of Citizen’s United and developer of the Willie Horton ad; David Brock, writer for American Spectator and author of The Real Anita Hill; and Pat Mahoney, director of Christian Defense Coalition and one-time spokesperson for Operation Rescue. These people are not champions of women’s rights.”
“The feminist track record on the issue of sexual harassment is irrefutable. Sexual harassment should be treated seriously, and feminists have never wavered from this position. However, the born-again feminists of the right wing dismissed Anita Hill and were stridently anti-women’s rights and anti-discrimination laws including sexual harassment laws. Now, who is the hypocrite?”
Anita Hill and Paula Jones are very different cases. In the 1991 Anita Hill case, feminists fought for a hearing on charges of sexual harassment before Clarence Thomas was appointed to the Supreme Court, and feminists demanded Anita Hill be heard publicly after the Senate’s decision to close the hearings. In 1995, although Senator Bob Packwood (R-O) was pro-choice and a supporter of women’s rights, feminists fought for the Senate Ethics Committee to open hearings on the sexual harassment charges brought against him. “Jones vs. Clinton, from the beginning, has been a court trial because Jones filed within the statute of limitations. Paula Jones will be heard,” stated Smeal.###