8. Sexism Was Rife & Spousal Rape Was Still Legal
In the “Marcia, Marcia, Marica” episode, a male cashier hands Clark the tampons she has just purchased and remarks: “Guess the defense is in for one hell of a week, huh?” Clark was placed under a level of scrutiny her male opponents did not equally experience. Throughout the trial, she was reported in the media as “the feisty prosecutor” or as the Ladies Home Journal labelled her, the one “with the short skirts and dancer’s legs.” Johnnie Cochran often referred to her in interviews with the press as “hysterical.” Her hairstyle and clothes were commented on more than her prosecution.
During the trial, Clark was engaged in a custody battle with her ex-husband over their two children, as he believed her professional life was getting in the way of her being a caring mother. When Clark appeared late in court, she reveals she can not stay late as she has to get home to her children. Cochane suggests Clark’s parental duties will cause interruptions for the trial, which causes Clark to fight back: “I’m offended by Mr. Cochran’s remarks as a woman and as a mother.”
In another memorable scene, during episode 8 “Jury In Jail”, attorney F. Lee Bailey states that a juror could not have been raped by her husband because they were married at the time. In 1988, spousal rape wasn’t made illegal until five years later. Clark summed it up in her response with: “You just said that. Out loud.”
Clark had suffered a sexual assault herself, she was raped by a waiter when she was just 17-years-old. She revealed to The Hollywood Reporter, “(The waiter) seemed totally harmless. I let my gut be overridden, and afterward he says, ‘I’ll walk you back.’ At some point, he said: ‘Why don’t you come to my room? And, idiot that I was, I went.” She added, “I said, ‘Well, I think I’ve got to go and I start to head for the door, and then he grabbed me and said, ‘You’re not going anywhere.’ He sucker punched me, threw me on the bed. And I screamed, and he laughed and said, ‘No one can hear you.’ And they couldn’t.” Clark admitted that she felt ashamed about the attack, and throughout the trial, she kept the violent assault her secret.