Representative Hill Resignation

Scrutiny Reveals Sexist Double Standards


Claire Emison

Representative Katie Hill resigned due to right-wing pressure.

Leo Barron, Managing Editor

The case of Katie Hill is a peculiar one. When she won her seat in 2018, she was the first Democrat to win in California’s 25th Congressional district in 25 years, and she showed promise as an up-and-coming new member of the House of Representatives. Unfortunately, her political allure was soon lost when nude pictures of her surfaced on the internet, and reports of an affair she had with one of her staff members started to leak. Due to pressure from right-wing groups, such as Breitbart and the website that published her pictures, RedState, media scrutiny increased, and Hill felt that she had to resign. But she did not leave quietly. In her resignation speech, she said, “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 watch-
ing.” Is she right? In short, yes. Let’s look at the facts.

Due to pressure from right-wing groups … and with increasing media scrutiny on her, Hill felt that she had to resign.

Firstly, affairs between staffers and congressmen have become commonplace, yet when a congresswoman and a staffer have an affair, they are shamed and, most of the time, forced to resign. In fact, a current member of Congress, Duncan Hunter, a Republican man also from California, is currently being accused of the exact same misconduct, yet there are few calls for his resignation from the media or members of Congress. Additionally, two of the five sitting Republican justices on the Supreme Court have been publicly accused of sexual assault, and what was their punishment? Nothing—they got a slap on the wrist and were both confirmed to sit on the Court for the rest of their lives. So what could possibly be the reason that Hill, a talented young politician who campaigned on the promise of being a voice for millennials, was forced to resign? It’s pretty obvious: They’re men, and she is not.

A woman fighting back against the intense scrutiny on her is not fully accepted in America yet.

The House of Representatives passed a rule last year that bars relationships between its members, and while I am in total support of that new rule, there is not a doubt that Hill has been unfairly targeted when compared to the treatment given to her male counterparts. Perhaps it was wrong of Hill to be involved in a relationship with her staffer, but there is no doubt that had she been a man, media attention on her would have been almost non-existent. If we lived in a world where men in power were treated the same as women in power, myself, as well as the rest of the country, would be calling for her resignation. But that is not the case.

Given the circumstances, I understand her decision to resign, but a part of me Representative Hill Resignation wishes that she would fight back and show that a woman can have an affair and keep her political dreams alive just as men have throughout American history. Of course, it is never that easy, and Hill probably made the right decision, as the public’s opinion of her was deteriorating, but the double standard is clear. A woman fighting back against the intense scrutiny on her is not fully accepted in America yet, and, until public opinion starts to change, that will unfortunately continue.

This piece also appears in our November 2019 print edition.