Nearly twenty years after Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his contentious Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Ginni Thomas, Clarence’s wife, left Anita a message requesting an apology. I can’t help but wonder what went on in the Thomas home the night before that very early 7:30 AM message was left on Anita’s work voicemail at Brandeis College.
Had there been some strange rehashing of those long-ago events that got Ginni upset and made her feel the need to reach out over the “airwaves” (as she put it) and request such an absurd thing? We will never know. But as a woman and a psychologist, I keep thinking that Ginni Thomas doesn’t want to face the facts about her husband’s clearly inappropriate behavior all those years ago.
In her message to Anita, I hear denial, anger and an interesting use of words.
Ginni said, “I just wanted to reach out across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband. So give it some thought and certainly pray about this and hope that one day you will help us understand why you did what you did, OK. Have a good day.”
What I find curious is her use of the phrase “what you did WITH my husband.” It sounds as if she is saying that there was some sort of mutual affection or sexual attention going on, rather than referring to the hearings.
Also, the phrase “hope that one day you help us understand why you did what you did, OK” seems to imply that Clarence and Ginni have recently been discussing the issue and are still in need of closure; that they don’t feel vindicated in any way by the fact that he was actually confirmed.
Ginni’s attempt to spin this as some sort of olive-branch gesture is laughable, because anyone who hears that message and those words knows that it is a call to conflict, not an olive branch. Apologies that are demanded without mutual understanding and repair are simply emotional extortion for your own gratification.
It seems to me that a very intelligent woman whose husband is on the highest court in the land would never have left a message like this unless she was responding from a very emotional place — certainly not an intellectual or rational one. I seriously wonder what went on between Clarence Thomas and his wife the night before this phone call was made. This must have been prompted by something that brought it back to life for Ginni, because for Anita Hill, this issue was dead.