"I am outraged that the 14 men on the committee looked at the allegations of sexual harassment in Anita Hill's testimony and ignored those allegations," said Ronnie McPherson of the Women's Alliance for Job Equity, which was founded in 1979 to push for equal pay for working women.
"This is because the powers that be are men in this country," she said. ''That's why Anita Hill was put on trial."
Some members of the coalition, which includes local politicians, feminists, academics and clergy members, carried signs saying, "I Believe Anita Hill."
"I doubt if there can be any greater argument for racial and sexual diversity in government than the handling of this (hearing) by the U.S. Senate," said Philadelphia City Councilwoman Augusta A. Clark. "The Senate, in its infinite, all-male wisdom, initially chose to disregard Anita Hill's allegations . . . without any realistic investigation."
Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D., Del.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has acknowledged that Hill's accusations were not thoroughly examined earlier
because she had wished to remain anonymous.
Clark and other members of the coalition, which included local politicians, feminists, academics and members of the clergy, attacked that strategy, arguing that Hill's testimony should have been heard behind closed doors.
"None of the senators, Republican or Democrat, treated Miss Anita Hill with the respect that was due her," said Philadelphia City Councilman Angel Ortiz. "None of them really wanted to pursue the issue of her privacy. But Mr. Clarence Thomas, who before (the hearing) could not find a right to privacy in the Constitution, found a right to privacy immediately."
Hill, who alleged that Thomas made obscene sexual advances to her 10 years ago while he was her boss at the U.S. Education Department and later at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, has been criticized for not speaking up sooner.
But some of the women at yesterday's news conference, who acknowledged broad ideological and political differences with Hill, said they understood her predicament.
"The story Anita Hill tells is typical of the story women tell all over this country," said Kathy Miller, a past president of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization for Women. "This story does not get taken seriously because of the all-male, all-white nature of the Senate. We need to encourage qualified women to run for all of these offices."