John Oliver is skeptical that #MeToo has vanquished sexual harassment at work, gets advice from Anita Hill

John Oliver tackles sexual harassment
(Image credit: Screenshot/YouTube/Last Week Tonight)

John Oliver dedicated most of Sunday's Last Week Tonight to the topic of workplace sexual harassment, and he began with a self-deprecating wink: "Who better to talk about it than me, a man? 'When will the male perspective on harassment be heard?' the public has been crying out. Well, wait no longer, tonight is the night." Sexual harassment at work has been a problem for decades, the most recent reminder being the new allegation against CBS boss Les Moonves, "and whenever the subject of workplace harassment comes up, you can bet on one thing: men getting very nervous." His examples came mostly from Fox News personalities."

It seems today "like we're on the verge of national reckoning about sexual harassment," Oliver said, but are we really? He compared the recent #MeToo and Times Up headlines to eerily similar ones from the early 1990s, prompted by Anita Hill's treatment from Senate Republicans. The 1990s effort to eradicate workplace harassment clearly "did not work," he said, "so tonight, since we seem to be going in circles on this issue, let's try and at least talk about it — if only because no one wants to see 'ending workplace harassment' as the unofficial theme of the 2048 Oscars."

Oliver explained the legal definition of workplace harassment, then paraphrased it: "It's not a single sh---y joke or a botched compliment, it's going out of your way to make someone else's workday a psychosexual nightmare." And he explained why any type of sexual harassment is problematic. "Time was supposed to be up in 1981, and 1991, and now time is supposed to be up again," Oliver said. "Will this go-around be any different? I honestly don't know." So he interviewed Anita Hill to get some perspective, and you can watch that interesting conversation below. (Note: The entire video is peppered with NSFW language.) Peter Weber

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