What the Katie Hill story means for young women in public life
October 29, 2019 11:26 AM Subscribe
What happened to Hill could discourage other women — especially younger and LGBTQ women — from seeking careers in the public eye. As Hill acknowledged, she had a serious lapse in judgment, and her resignation wasn’t necessarily unexpected. But her story also appears to be an example of a revenge porn campaign that worked, driving its target from her chosen career. Some say that could discourage women, especially younger women who have dated since the advent of phone cameras, from running for office or seeking positions of power. As Wu put it, “they’re going to look at this situation and say, boy, what if I’m the next one?”
No discussion of the allegations against Hill is complete without an acknowledgment of how they came to light. According to Hill, photographs of her were shared without her consent. She has said her soon-to-be ex-husband is responsible. “The fact is I am going through a divorce from an abusive husband who seems determined to try to humiliate me,” she said in a statement to the Washington Post earlier this month.
Hill’s relationship with a campaign staffer raises serious ethical questions, and might have led to her resignation regardless of the manner in which it was revealed. But the release of the photos meant that Hill was also subjected to repeated invasion of privacy that had nothing to do with the public debate over her inappropriate relationship — her constituents and colleagues did not need to see her naked body to decide whether she should remain in Congress.
Women are more likely than men to be threatened with the nonconsensual sharing of explicit images, also known as revenge porn, according to a 2016 report by the Data & Society Research Institute. Women under 30 are especially at risk, with 10 percent saying they’ve been threatened with revenge porn at some point. People who are gay or bisexual are also much more likely to be threatened than straight people.
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