Sex scandals in American politics are nothing new. Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Al Franken, Dennis Hastert, Larry Craig—the list goes on and on. The recent scandal surrounding freshman representative Katie Hill is complex and remarkably unique to the political climate that has become dominant over the last few years.
Originally accused of having a sexual relationship with a campaign aide, Hill’s scandal quickly became much darker and more insidious, in large part due to the willingness of the conservative media to aid an abuser and the media as a whole falling into old, familiar double standards.
Hill, who is due to resign from Congress on November 1, has admitted to a relationship with a campaign aide and has acknowledged how inappropriate it was.
A congressional ethics investigation is wholly warranted, especially given another charge that Hill embarked on a relationship with a male staffer after being sworn in.
However, this scandal moved into uncharted waters when RedState, the conservative blog that originally broke the story, published nude photos of Hill, which it allegedly received from her estranged husband.
Hill, during a messy divorce, has accused her husband of being abusive throughout their relationship and leaking the photos without her consent.
Not only is that a violation of Hill’s privacy, in more than 40 states it is also a crime. One of those states is California, whose 25th District Hill represented.
In contrast to Hill’s scandal, one should look at another representative from California, Duncan Hunter. In 2018, Hunter was indicted by the FBI on numerous charges, including 60 counts of wire fraud, falsifying records, and conspiracy.
His wife, who pled guilty and named him as a co-conspirator, admitted that Hunter spends taxpayer money to cover up the affairs he had with five different women.
Why did Hill resign while Hunter remains in office, and won reelection in 2018? Her defenders attribute it to the fact that she is an openly bisexual woman and thus faces a two-pronged attack of both misogyny and biphobia.
In her final speech to Congress, Hill denounced a culture that was quick to seek out and view the nude pictures of her that had been leaked without her consent, that was quick to pile on and further attack her, that eagerly pursued the exotic headlines of a so-called “throuple”, and which allowed her abuser to get away with what he did.
“I am leaving because of a misogynistic culture that gleefully consumed my naked pictures, capitalized on my sexuality and enabled my abusive ex to continue that abuse, this time with the entire country watching,” Hill stated.
Again, it bears repeating that Hill was legally in the wrong for being in a relationship with a campaign aide, but that doesn’t justify the unfair and near-universal condemnation she has received.
As many pundits have pointed out, the hypocrisy present in the pressure on her to resign while the president of the country has been accused of much, much worse is astounding.
After resigning from Congress, Hill announced that she would dedicate herself to fighting revenge porn and ensuring that something like this won’t happen again.