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.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis (84 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
 
She was the most talented of the freshman class in Congress. Having a relationship with a subordinate is wrong, but I do hate to see her go.
posted by all about eevee at 11:36 AM on October 29, 2019 [4 favorites]


The Daily Mail is a fucking horrible rag. This is why you never, ever, share Daily Mail links.
posted by scruss at 12:18 PM on October 29, 2019 [38 favorites]


Hill is one of my favorites from the freshman group too, and in a time when the President is a serial adulterer and likely abuser, and assault allegations of Kavanaugh were shown to trouble a Republican Senate not at all (except for the fact that someone dared accuse their team of anything), when in general it is entirely clear there is no principle at all except power and their access to it to be found anywhere within the Republican party, it is galling to have a new standout like Hill resign over an episode which involves merely a lapse of judgment rather than consent or assault. And it sure sounds like there is some bullshit in Heslep's marriage complaints; "she was ambitious and wanted *me* to stay home and do housework feminists amirite" is clearly tailored red meat, so I'd readily believe he's either a proxy attack vector or just a tool. There are issues regarding how she's being treated here that are separate from issues of what she's done.

But the idea that it'll discourage other women from seeking careers in the public eye... I mean, yes, the public eye does call for judgment and discretion in personal affairs. What we've *started* to say when talented men fuck up is that sure, it's tragic to lose a Bill Clinton or Al Franken or whoever... but we can and should find someone else talented without their baggage. Hill's baggage is minor compared to some, but I imagine the pool of talented women is no smaller than the pool of talented men, and it's not even incredible to imagine that more of them can exercise restrained judgment when it comes to sex.

Hill is breaking my heart here, but I have to hope we can find people who won't. Not even necessarily people who can't -- everyone is vulnerable to some extent, and perhaps in cases like Hill's that makes you human rather than a monster -- but people who won't.
posted by wildblueyonder at 12:21 PM on October 29, 2019 [12 favorites]


But the idea that it'll discourage other women from seeking careers in the public eye...

It's not the lapse of judgement that will discourage other women from seeking high powered careers- its the revenge porn. This was a member of congress who's nudes were splashed around because of an abusive ex they were divorcing.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 12:24 PM on October 29, 2019 [55 favorites]


Given that men who have had affairs, who have raped minors, who have beaten women, exposed their ugly dicks to women and girls they don’t know, I do think Hill did not do anything so horrible. Did she rape anyone? No. Did she beat anyone? No. If anyone needs a whipping, literal or figurative, I think the soon to be ex - husband needs it. I’m seriously sick to death of what men get away with in politics.
We have had a couple rather unpleasant local examples.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 12:30 PM on October 29, 2019 [38 favorites]


Just today I saw a headline saying a "GOP operative" claims to have 700 images...there's no way that many pictures weren't deliberately leaked with malicious intent. I agree, the ex-husband definitely needs to suffer some dire consequences.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:03 PM on October 29, 2019 [16 favorites]


And from Washington Post columnist Monica Hesse: What actually mattered in the Katie Hill scandal — and what didn’t: "The stories weren’t presented as breaking news so much as humiliation bombs.... The point was shame."
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 1:05 PM on October 29, 2019 [11 favorites]


I do think Hill did not do anything so horrible.

I am really uncomfortable with excuses for abusing power to sleep with subordinates. There are no ifs and no buts: it is wrong and it should be a fireable offensive, always. Just because it's someone we like does not make it okay!

Nor does the fact that "the other side" indulges in hypocrisy. We should not sink to their level. What Hill did was wrong, deeply wrong, and it demonstrates terrible judgement that I wouldn't want in any leader.

I can believe this, and still believe that she is a victim of sexism and abuse, that her husband should be jailed for revenge porn and that the coterie of abusers in the republican party should also resign.
posted by smoke at 1:09 PM on October 29, 2019 [75 favorites]


I think the distinction is the physical force required. It’s not like the subordinate was a teenaged boy. Both were adults, capable of giving or withholding consent. It’s not like she raped the guy. Was it wonderful she did this? No, it was not wonderful. The point is the same people are not all over some arguably far worse people. Personally, in her place I would not have run at all. That’s just me.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 1:21 PM on October 29, 2019


I'm a woman who has been asked any number of times over the past few years if I would ever want to run for office. While holding public office isn't a goal of mine, every time I'm asked the first thing I think is "There are sexual pictures and text exchanges that I would not want to be made public." It's not that they are proof of anything unethical or illegal, it's that I know what happens when women are seen to be sexual beings. There is no way I'd risk that.

So, yes, this story will very much have a chilling effect on the number of women who will consider running for office.
posted by mcduff at 1:27 PM on October 29, 2019 [22 favorites]


I disagree. A subordinate is a subordinate, no matter their gender or age. There is a disparity in power between managers and subordinates, plain and simple.
posted by all about eevee at 1:27 PM on October 29, 2019 [22 favorites]


It’s not like the subordinate was a teenaged boy. Both were adults, capable of giving or withholding consent. It’s not like she raped the guy.

Just to clarify the facts, the subordinate was a woman, not a man.
posted by Copronymus at 1:28 PM on October 29, 2019


There are two subordinates involved, one a man and one a woman.
posted by all about eevee at 1:30 PM on October 29, 2019 [1 favorite]


There are two subordinates involved, one a man and one a woman.

Sorry, I thought the relationship with the male subordinate was denied as false but the other one was admitted.
posted by Copronymus at 1:36 PM on October 29, 2019 [1 favorite]


No need for apologies, I may be wrong. I have heard different things from different sources about the male employee.
posted by all about eevee at 1:37 PM on October 29, 2019


I think the distinction is the physical force required. It’s not like the subordinate was a teenaged boy. Both were adults, capable of giving or withholding consent. It’s not like she raped the guy. Was it wonderful she did this? No, it was not wonderful. The point is the same people are not all over some arguably far worse people. Personally, in her place I would not have run at all. That’s just me.

Louis CK didn't forcefully restrain his subordinates when he decided to masturbate in front of them, so I hope this whole 'it requires physical force to be inappropriate' thing is thought through for about for about 5 seconds to understand how ridiculous it sounds. Being involved in romantic or otherwise sexual relationships with your subordinates when you're in a public position of trust is wrong, full stop.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 1:53 PM on October 29, 2019 [43 favorites]


> Being involved in romantic or otherwise sexual relationships with your subordinates when you're in a public position of trust is wrong, full stop.

It is certainly wrong, but saying it's wrong doesn't end the discussion, so I don't think "full stop" is appropriate here. She's resigned because it was wrong. Additionally, she was wronged, by her husband and a bunch of opportunistic media vultures who saw a salacious story and a "gotcha" to own the libs with.

If she were hanging on like Franken initially tried to do and her defenders were saying what she did wasn't as wrong as some other things that Republicans did, then yes, hammer home the fact that it's wrong, and be skeptical of attempts to "whatabout" the conversation. But that's not what's happening here. With her out of politics and her also being a victim in this story, we should be able to discuss other aspects while also acknowledging that her actions were worthy of condemnation.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:03 PM on October 29, 2019 [13 favorites]


I am super frustrated about this. We gave money, my husband went up there (next district up from us) weekend after weekend to register voters and canvass for her after she beat Jess Phoenix in the primary. Putting aside that there are better routes out of an abusive relationship than running for office, her former partner's behavior is not her responsibility. Making bad decisions, boringly bad decisions, basically "you had ONE job" decisions - knowing that in her position, these exact stories were going to be made up about her and it was important to...just not do that - is her responsibility, and that's a real fuck you to everyone who busted their ass for her.

But she should have at least not quit without making a substantial ruckus about the double standard. Here's a list. If you're handed a big pile of notoriety, maybe use it to make a point at least.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:12 PM on October 29, 2019 [7 favorites]


> But she should have at least not quit without making a substantial ruckus about the double standard. Here's a list. If you're handed a big pile of notoriety, maybe use it to make a point at least.

I strongly disagree that she had any duty to stay in the spotlight any longer. Republicans are professional hypocrites, and their voters and the media don't care that they're hypocrites. Her reading off a laundry list of GOP creeps would just prolong the story, all so a bunch of Democrats could feel a little better about the situation. Getting out now and saying she's going to focus on the revenge porn issue sounds like a much better direction for both her and her political party.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:17 PM on October 29, 2019 [3 favorites]


It's good (and was necessary) that she resigned. However it seems like she's the only person who will get their just desserts in this whole affair.

- Justice would be her ex husband in jail.

- Justice would be her ex husband and every news outlet or internet den that disseminated the images/videos paying damages to her and to the staffers featured therein.

- Justice would be every other politician who has committed similar professional misconduct also resigning.

- Justice would be every politician who has committed far worse than professional misconduct - everything from breach of trust and quid pro quo relationships to rape, assault, blackmail, coerced abortions, etc. - to be investigated with alacrity and honesty, put through speedy and uncorrupt trials, and then jailed if found guilty.

None of that will ever happen. Only she will have resigned. The rules only apply to oppressed classes of people.
posted by MiraK at 3:02 PM on October 29, 2019 [24 favorites]


Folks here who are singularly focused on the "taboos" of adultery and/or relationships-with- employees are, to echo what Homo neanderthalensis already said up-thread, really missing the point about revenge porn and how this tired Puritanical approach in the US only further serves to harm women while continuing to bolster mediocre men in powerful positions.

It's also necessary, not optional, to factor in the power differential between cisgender men and everyone else. Cisgender men were already overdue for the public shaming and call outs, ushered in by #MeToo, for their patterns of non-consensual behavior, so I am not going to sit here and act like this is a "but fair is fair!" situation. Women's sexuality has always been over-policed and rarely does that policing have anything to do with the non-consent that is such an epidemic among men.

This matter involving Katie Hill isn't about consent or the immorality of adultery or the appropriateness of relationships with subordinates at work. Those are red herrings. It's about revenge porn and policing the bodies of anyone who is not a cisgender man. I'm skeptical of anyone talking *only* about the red herrings while failing to consider the revenge porn and gender politics. You can talk about all of it, but you can't be selective and act like sexism and revenge porn aren't the biggest factors at play.

Context matters.
posted by nightrecordings at 3:49 PM on October 29, 2019 [31 favorites]


I'm really sad too; I supported Katie Hill in the election and she was doing a good job. There's a good chance a Republican could take her seat in a special election, we'll have to wait and see.

I hate, hate, hate that revenge porn is part of what brought her down. OTOH as Ms. Hill herself said, and people here in this thread, she broke an important rule of conduct. I just hope that this rule is enforced equally and gets people thrown out of Congress who clearly deserve to be, but I'm skeptical it will. Women in positions of power are doubly vulnerable.

(Meanwhile, just a little south of Hill's district Duncan Hunter continues to brazenly serve in office despite a serious fraud indictment. He managed to win the election with that hanging over him, too.)
posted by Nelson at 4:36 PM on October 29, 2019 [2 favorites]


All the links are on Twitter, which I can't access from this computer, but George Papadopoulos (yes, the convicted felon/coffee boy of the Russia probe) has announced he's running for Hill's seat.

This is even a stupider timeline than I thought.
posted by suelac at 4:41 PM on October 29, 2019 [2 favorites]


Much as I'd like to think someday society will be cool with a polyamorous, bisexual politician who has consenting multiple relationships (I used to joke about this with an ex), god knows we aren't there and probably won't be in our lifetime. Or our great grandchildren's lifetime, for that matter.

Even worse: she dated her subordinates, which everyone has to know is a bad idea. I really wince at her life choices here.

Even worse than that: married an asshole who'd do revenge porn.

I think any of this shit would have sunk her career. Being poly? Yes. Dating her employees? Yes. The revenge porn? Inevitable these days if you have a vengeful ex.

Hell, these days they can deepfake you so there will be revenge porn against you for existing, even if you never took a naked pic in your life.

"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?”

Every woman who even vaguely considers doing something public now knows that they are highly likely to be "the next one." Every single woman can and will be GamerGated, doxxed, stalked and harassed even if no one bothers with porn because at least one angry man noticed them and struck out in rage. Any woman who has even a tiny bit of sense should at least be somewhat discouraged knowing that is in store for her if she's seen and noticed any more. Whether anyone can pay that price, I don't know. But that's our world and we're stuck with it.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:50 PM on October 29, 2019 [6 favorites]


Being involved in romantic or otherwise sexual relationships with your subordinates when you're in a public position of trust is wrong, full stop

A straight white man who has a relationship with a subordinate is conscious that it is not going to affect *his* career; he may be annoyed that the woman involved may get the Monika treatment. A woman knows that any relationship with a subordinate will most likely result in her firing, public humiliation, revenge porn, etc.

So the same behaviour is *wrong*, but one gender is risking a lot, and one gender has no consequences. The societal power imbalance is enormous.
posted by saucysault at 6:12 PM on October 29, 2019 [23 favorites]


Duncan Hunter is a huge scumbag, but sits in a gerrymandered, heavily Republican district. He also ran totally racist a xenophobic campaign.

Rep. Hill should have waited to resign untill hunter resigned
posted by CostcoCultist at 7:27 PM on October 29, 2019




Alex Thomas as well links to this tweet from everyone's favourite coffee boy George Papadopoulos. Seems George knew of the images before the story broke.
posted by PenDevil at 9:33 PM on October 29, 2019 [6 favorites]


Unbelievable. The number of terrible things happening in the world is growing exponentially, but the same handful of assholes is somehow involved all of them. How do they squeeze all of this criming into a single day?
posted by tonycpsu at 9:45 PM on October 29, 2019 [12 favorites]


I think the distinction is the physical force required. It’s not like the subordinate was a teenaged boy. Both were adults, capable of giving or withholding consent. It’s not like she raped the guy.

Power structures don't exist, and certainly never get exploited for sexual abuse! It's physical force or it's nothing! Literally "it's not like she raped the guy"!

Revenge porn can be monstrous and the perpetrators of that can be due justice without trotting out a litany of rape apologia. Everybody in here who's coming to Hill's defense, in ANY regard, should be absolutely fucking ashamed of themselves.

Much as I'd like to think someday society will be cool with a polyamorous, bisexual politician who has consenting multiple relationships (I used to joke about this with an ex), god knows we aren't there and probably won't be in our lifetime.

Given the lack of consent inherent to the power structure here, we don't even have a case study.

Personally, in her place I would not have run at all. That’s just me.

were I a congresswoman, I would simply not leverage my position to pressure my employees for sex. rip to katie hill but im different
posted by kafziel at 11:30 PM on October 29, 2019 [1 favorite]


Also covered on the Vox podcast The Weeds today.

Unquestionable that she is the victim of vile revenge porn unrelated to the actual wrongdoing she was accused of.

But the flip side is her wrongdoing was unrelated to the revenge porn. Her admitted stuff is borderline resignable already and the additional things being investigated were expellable offense. I hope she makes a lot of money in a lawsuit somehow and the people who did the nudes need to pay, but (as with Franken) I suspect the result of a completed investigation is her not in office regardless.
posted by mark k at 11:37 PM on October 29, 2019 [1 favorite]


George Papadopoulos, who served 14 days in prison for lying to the FBI during the Robert Mueller probe, is running for Katie Hill's California district. Including a tweet about "smelling blood in the water". And he did tweet about the seat being open just about a full day before the story broke on RedState.
posted by Crystalinne at 4:16 AM on October 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


The text messages also show some of Hill's staffers, including the one she says she was having sex with, and her ex were concerned about her excessive partying (to the point that she repeatedly missed work-related flights because of hangovers). The hypocrisy, revenge porn and lgbt-targeting elements are real and essential to the story, but as someone who watched once-promising liberal star John Edwards implode due to ego, horniness and stupidity, I think there's plenty of room for honest disappointment in Hill that goes beyond slut-shaming.
posted by mediareport at 5:20 AM on October 30, 2019 [7 favorites]


Her ex is a terrible person and we shouldn't believe anything he says, honestly.
posted by all about eevee at 5:26 AM on October 30, 2019 [10 favorites]


I refuse to read private text messages released as revenge by an angry ex unless they are evidence of actual crimes committed.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:30 AM on October 30, 2019 [4 favorites]


Well, ok, but if you want to understand Pelosi's calculation here, you should at least know what she knows. You have to give hits to awful outlets like the Daily Mail to see them, but the allegations come from text messages between staffers and with Hill about her missing flights. The photo of her naked smoking a bong with metadata suggesting it was taken on a 9/11 anniversary wasn't going to do her next election bid in a red-leaning district any favors, either. It's very easy to see Pelosi doing the math and pushing Hill to leave now, while there's still time to find someone who can keep the seat.
posted by mediareport at 5:33 AM on October 30, 2019


Even worse than that: married an asshole who'd do revenge porn.

This is a bit unfair. We all like to think we know someone but until we know how they react when something like a divorce happens you can't actually predict someone's reactions.
posted by LizBoBiz at 5:42 AM on October 30, 2019 [14 favorites]


were I a congresswoman, I would simply not leverage my position to pressure my employees for sex.

I would bet lots and lots of money that it was not a sex me or else, peon scenario. Working closely with people in high-pressure situations creates closeness and familiarity that can blur or dim the lines of hierarchy and power. The subordinate probably felt - much like Monica Lewinsky did - that it was a special relationship born of common ground, even peerhood. I bet Hill felt the same way - here's someone I can be myself with. Especially given that she's going through a divorce. You think you would never do that, but until you're in those shoes, you just don't know. It doesn't absolve Hill of her garden-variety transgression, but it is worlds away from the backing-your-subordinate-into-the-sex-closet scenario you're describing.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:24 AM on October 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


Working closely with people in high-pressure situations creates closeness and familiarity that can blur or dim the lines of hierarchy and power. The subordinate probably felt - much like Monica Lewinsky did - that it was a special relationship born of common ground, even peerhood. I bet Hill felt the same way - here's someone I can be myself with. Especially given that she's going through a divorce.

What the fuck, no, you don't get to screw people who work for you when you work in a position of public trust. This is not hard.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 6:30 AM on October 30, 2019 [11 favorites]


You think you would never do that, but until you're in those shoes, you just don't know.

i can easily see how this would happen as you describe, which is why i appreciate bright red rules that are easy to understand and remember like 'don't fuck subordinates' in case i put myself in that situation

i appreciate the acknowledgement of the biphobia here, because i'd been avoiding details about this and didn't even realize that was a factor. we're more susceptible to abuse in relationships to begin with.
posted by gaybobbie at 7:42 AM on October 30, 2019 [6 favorites]


What the fuck, no, you don't get to screw people who work for you when you work in a position of public trust. This is not hard.

She didn't "get to." She lost her job.
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:00 AM on October 30, 2019


Have the people Katie Hill had a sexual relationship with said anything?
posted by Nelson at 8:17 AM on October 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


Polite reminder that the President is a literal rapist
posted by moorooka at 11:20 AM on October 30, 2019 [13 favorites]


These two things can be - and are - true at the same time: Hill's husband engaged in vile, probably-criminal behavior, and Hill engaged in improper workplace behavior that is explicitly prohibited by House ethics rules. No one here is defending revenge porn. Some here seem to be saying Hill should be forgiven or at least cut some slack because of how her unethical behavior came to light, which is just wrong.
posted by PhineasGage at 11:33 AM on October 30, 2019 [5 favorites]


> The photo of her naked smoking a bong with metadata suggesting it was taken on a 9/11 anniversary wasn't going to do her next election bid in a red-leaning district any favors, either.

on the one hand everything that people are saying upthread, but on the other hand i am positively gobsmacked to find out that someone else commemorates 9/11 the same way that i do.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 12:10 PM on October 30, 2019 [13 favorites]


I look at this the same way I think about the Miranda case. To crib off Phineas Gage, two things were true in that case:
1) Ernesto Miranda raped a woman.
2) Ernesto Miranda's rights were violated in the investigation.
Upon retrial, Miranda was justly convicted.

I'm glad that Rep. Hill resigned. I hope she runs for office again when she's ready to, and I hope her constituents decide that they want her representing them.
posted by Etrigan at 12:14 PM on October 30, 2019 [4 favorites]


A straight white man who has a relationship with a subordinate is conscious that it is not going to affect *his* career; he may be annoyed that the woman involved may get the Monika treatment. A woman knows that any relationship with a subordinate will most likely result in her firing, public humiliation, revenge porn, etc.

So the same behaviour is *wrong*, but one gender is risking a lot, and one gender has no consequences. The societal power imbalance is enormous.


I think Saucysalt is right. If the power differential caused by her office is what makes this is resignable offense, then we must take into consideration how much the power of her office was diluted in this context by her gender. A man in her shoes has infinitely more power than she did. It's wrong for us to react as if they would have been the same.

By which I mean, we cannot say: If an elected official sleeps with their staffer, they are, regardless of gender, misusing their power and must resign. Because that's analogous to the law in all its majesty not only forbidding the rich and poor alike from cheating on their taxes, but also punishing them the same whether the tax fraud was for $50 million or for $50.

I understand the practical difficulties behind my position, nevertheless, I, uh, totally agree with myself.
posted by MiraK at 1:08 PM on October 30, 2019 [4 favorites]


I think Saucysalt is right. If the power differential caused by her office is what makes this is resignable offense, then we must take into consideration how much the power of her office was diluted in this context by her gender. A man in her shoes has infinitely more power than she did. It's wrong for us to react as if they would have been the same.

By which I mean, we cannot say: If an elected official sleeps with their staffer, they are, regardless of gender, misusing their power and must resign. Because that's analogous to the law in all its majesty not only forbidding the rich and poor alike from cheating on their taxes

There are 535 members of Congress, 126 of whom are women. Are you really putting forth that congressmen have infinite power over congresswomen, and therefore it should be OK for congresswomen to sleep with their staff to even out a power imbalance? Does the legislative vote of a congresswoman count less than that of a congressman? Is Nancy Pelosi infinitely less powerful than Matt Gaetz or some other male house rando?

Let's not infantilize elected members of Congress and pretend they lack power strictly because of their gender and should get special staff fucking privileges to make up for it.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 1:40 PM on October 30, 2019 [8 favorites]


She violated clear, explicit ethics rules. Should women congressmembers not have to follow the same rules of the House?
posted by PhineasGage at 1:44 PM on October 30, 2019 [1 favorite]


Seriously, as has been said: it is possible for Hill to be a victim of one crime and a perpetrator of another. Can we please not tie ourselves into knots justifying her decision to fuck subordinates?
posted by schroedinger at 1:47 PM on October 30, 2019 [11 favorites]


A straight white man who has a relationship with a subordinate is conscious that it is not going to affect *his* career;

This would be news to the male House members who have been forced to resign due to having a relationship with a staffer: Blake Farenthold, John Conyers, Trent Franks, and Joe Barton.
posted by chrchr at 2:21 PM on October 30, 2019 [2 favorites]


Joe Conyers was black (he died this week).
posted by hydropsyche at 2:26 PM on October 30, 2019 [3 favorites]


Is Nancy Pelosi infinitely less powerful than Matt Gaetz or some other male house rando?

Indeed she is. Her career would not survive a sex scandal. His would very likely survive not just a sex scandal but also a rape scandal.

Look, I get how the principle I'm articulating is "out there" and I won't pretend it's practical to implement in any way. But let's take a minute to think about this, yeah? Sit with it for a hot second?

Nancy Pelosi, as powerful as she is, would be forced to resign if it came out that she had sex with a staffer. The staffer, too, knows that leaking the affair to the media would end Pelosi's career. Given both these statements, how much power does Nancy Pelosi really have over the staffer in a sexual context? And if she does not have power over her staffer in a sexual context, why is it wrong for her to have sex with the staffer?

This is certainly not the case for any male person in power, especially if they are white, straight, and cis. There, the power differential between staffer and politician does exist, because men don't lose their careers no matter what their sexual transgressions might be. No. Matter. What.

We should not pretend that gender doesn't matter to the ethics of sleeping with one's staffer. It absolutely does.
posted by MiraK at 2:35 PM on October 30, 2019 [7 favorites]


She violated clear, explicit ethics rules.

She, in fact, did not, presuming her denial of the Graham Kelly allegations are true. The female campaign staffer she had a relationship with was not a House employee and therefore not covered under article 18(a) of the code of ethics. Was it inappropriate and wrong? Yes. Was it a violation of House ethics rules? No.
posted by grumpybear69 at 3:02 PM on October 30, 2019 [10 favorites]


Also:

it is possible for Hill to be a victim of one crime and a perpetrator of another.

She did not commit a crime.
posted by grumpybear69 at 3:18 PM on October 30, 2019 [12 favorites]


The ex-husband is slippery af and willing to take down anyone if it hurts Hill. If the campaign staffer wanted to come forward with her story, that would be one thing. But, as far as I know, her shit is out there thanks to the abusive ex. Hill's former employer is also stuck defending its hiring processes because he claims he was so shit at his job he was only there because of his wife. It's all so ugly.

Meanwhile abusive ex-husband's parents are half assedly covering for him
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 4:11 PM on October 30, 2019 [6 favorites]


This would be news to the male House members who have been forced to resign due to having a relationship with a staffer: Blake Farenthold, John Conyers, Trent Franks, and Joe Barton.

You're using a rather funny definition of "relationship with staffer".

Blake Farenthold resigned in the wake of reports he used public funds to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit and had created an intensely hostile work environment for women in his congressional office.

John Conyers resigned in the wake of allegations that he had sexually harassed female staff members and secretly used taxpayer money to settle a harassment claim.

Trent Franks resigned when he was threatened with an investigation over allegations that Franks had repeatedly asked two female staffers to bear his children as surrogate mothers, offered one of them $5 million to carry his child, and retaliated against her when she declined. The women feared that Franks wanted to impregnate them sexually as part of the surrogacy process.

Of the only four examples of resignation you found - four resignations out of literally hundreds of men who have been accused of relationships with staffers, harassment of staffers, assault of staffers, coersion of staffers, rape of staffers, and forced abortions on staffers - just one even slightly approximates Katie's alleged professional misconduct. And that's How Barton.

Joe Barton "merely" sent dick pics and masturbation videos of himself to staffers SEVERAL DECADES YOUNGER than he (a second axis of power differential). Not only that, he was recorded by one of his mistresses threatening her if she made the affair public: Barton warned her against using the explicit materials "in a way that would negatively affect [her] career", additionally threatening to report her to the Capitol Police if she leaked the secret.

So even Joe Barton wasn't taken down merely for having relationships with staffers.

I almost want to make a game of this. Is there a single example of a male elected official whose career ended due only to an affair with a staffer? Nothing more than an affair: no threats, no hostile environment (apart from the affair itself), no retaliation, no rape, no misuse of public funds, etc.?
posted by MiraK at 6:26 PM on October 30, 2019 [17 favorites]


Sleeping with an employee is a hostile work environment.
posted by zymil at 3:30 AM on October 31, 2019


Sleeping with an employee is a hostile work environment.

Hence the “apart from” parenthetical. MiraK raises a good question that shouldn’t be nibbled away at. Is there a comparable example of a male elected official whose career ended due to an affair that had no further aggravating aspects?
posted by Etrigan at 4:19 AM on October 31, 2019 [8 favorites]


Mark Souder, Chris Lee, arguably Vance McAllister if you count not running for re-election?
posted by eponym at 5:53 AM on October 31, 2019


Hence the “apart from” parenthetical. MiraK raises a good question that shouldn’t be nibbled away at. Is there a comparable example of a male elected official whose career ended due to an affair that had no further aggravating aspects?

Gary Condit had an affair with his staffer Chandra Levy. By all accounts the affair was consensual, but it was disclosed to the media when Chandra Levy disappeared and was subsequently found murdered. Condit was never considered a suspect and had nothing to do with Levy's disappearance (her murderer was convicted in 2009, having previously been found guilty of killing two other women in the same area), but still lost his re-election campaign in 2002 and never ran for office again, effectively having his career ended.

Tim Mahoney admitted to several extra-martial affairs and put his mistress on his campaign staff. He lost his re-election campaign and his political career is done. Ironically, he succeeded Mark Foley who had his own sex scandal involving teenage interns and resigned.

Vito Fossella was discovered to have had a long term affair and out-of-wedlock child and was forced to drop out of his 2008 re-election campaign.

Bob Livingston resigned his seat when he learned that Larry Flynt was going to publish information about his extramarital affairs in the mid 90s.

John Edwards was a popular presidential candidate who was discovered to have cheated on his wife, who was dying of cancer at the time, and had a baby with his mistress who he paid off with campaign funds in an effort to keep it a secret. It completely ended his political career.

You can find plenty more examples on this wikipedia list of federal sex scandals in the United States.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 6:03 AM on October 31, 2019 [1 favorite]


Losing an election is not the same as resigning, as it could have multiple causes, like being a crappy rep. Edwards was never a serious candidate for president (and I say that as someone who voted for him in the primary and donated money to him and is still pissed off at him).

Livingston is the only one of those people who resigned, and you left out the context that he had been rabidly pursuing impeachment of Bill Clinton for his relationship with Monica Lewinsky at the same time that he was carrying on multiple affairs of his own. Clinton did not resign.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:09 AM on October 31, 2019 [4 favorites]


Losing an election is not the same as resigning,

Well now we're moving goal posts because the question was about someone having their "career ended", not resigning. If you never work again in politics, that's having your career ended.

Edwards was never a serious candidate for president

LOL, ok.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 6:17 AM on October 31, 2019 [1 favorite]


You left out the rest of my sentence: "(and I say that as someone who voted for him in the primary and donated money to him and is still pissed off at him)"
posted by hydropsyche at 6:21 AM on October 31, 2019 [3 favorites]


[Folks let's reel it back; this is getting set up as an all or nothing conflict when it doesn't need to be. Upholding ethics rules is compatible with acknowledging the plain fact that women politicians have to contend with unfair extra scrutiny and sexist attitudes about their sex lives. We can have a smarter discussion if people are careful to acknowledge the real-world context here.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:54 AM on October 31, 2019 [4 favorites]


Kate Riga: ‘Our Darling Katie’: Dems Split On Hill’s Resignation As She Preps For Final Speech (emphasis mine)
According to Politico, younger representatives like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-CA) train their condemnation on those who leaked and disseminated intimate and explicit pictures of the congresswoman.

“This doesn’t happen to male members in the same way — revenge porn in this respect. It’s horrific,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “I don’t think we’re really talking about how targeted and serious this is. We’re talking about a major crime… being committed against her.”

Older members, while uniformly sad to see Hill go, focus on her personal indiscretion.

“Our darling Katie. It’s so sad,” Pelosi during a closed-door leadership meeting Monday. “It goes to show you, we should say to young candidates, and to kids in kindergarten really, be careful when transmitting photos.”
WTF?

These sexist dinosaurs (both men and women) that are supposed to be on our side live in a world where somehow it's still important to blame the victim for someone else's vicious misogyny. It's no wonder that not only do we not have comprehensive federal revenge porn laws, but that pretty much all state laws are severely compromised or fatally flawed. The Dem leadership, and in particular those who have been quite comfortable to loudly and publicly shit on Members from marginalized communities, need to be coming out with full-throated attacks on these assholes rather than retreating into this 20th-century sexist cowardice.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:59 AM on October 31, 2019 [7 favorites]


Saw a post on reddit recently basically saying just about every woman they know has taken nudes at one point or another. It eventually is going to come down to supporting those women, for doing a normal thing, and saving condemnation for the perpetrators that release these images. They obviously can't be trusted, and they're obviously much worse people than anyone whose images they release.
posted by avalonian at 8:08 AM on October 31, 2019 [7 favorites]


In order for revenge porn laws to truly remediate the issue there need to be clear, expedient avenues to removing the images from the web. Jailing the perpetrators for life, labeling them as sex offenders and seizing all of their assets won't erase those pictures from the internet unless we have laws that mandate their scrubbing.
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:15 AM on October 31, 2019


Now that you mention it, grumpybear69, there really should be more accountability for anyone that hosts images of revenge porn. Generally speaking, the use of an individual's likeness without their consent should have civil - if not criminal - consequences.
posted by avalonian at 9:00 AM on October 31, 2019 [6 favorites]


I assume you are specifically referring to revenge porn in that comment 'cause much of photography would be criminalized if you couldn't use someone's likeness without consent full stop.

Uh, that Pelosi quote is kind of creepy.
posted by Justinian at 10:22 AM on October 31, 2019


If it's being profited off of, I honestly don't make that distinction.
posted by avalonian at 11:12 AM on October 31, 2019 [3 favorites]




Being careful about transmitting photos is not the goddamn issue here, Nancy; it's sleeping with staffers! FFS! She should be able to have private photos taken of whatever she wants.
posted by smoke at 1:54 PM on October 31, 2019 [2 favorites]


Being careful about transmitting photos is not the goddamn issue here, Nancy; it's sleeping with staffers!

Well, sleeping with staffers is bad, I think everyone agrees on that (except possibly the President, who probably considers it a perk). But the goddamn issue is the weaponization of revenge porn for political means. It specifically threatens women who dare to enter politics by shaming them and opening them up to ever-increasing threats from the misogynist hellmouths of the internet.

Danielle Citron has a relevant interview here.
posted by suelac at 2:37 PM on October 31, 2019 [6 favorites]


I am completely baffled by the people who put the unquestionably abusive tactics of an ex-huband whose goal is to humiliate his ex-wife via massive privacy violations and ruin her newfound successful career on the same level as an apparently consensual relationship with a subordinate about which she has said nothing other than she regrets it and it was poor judgement. What sort of fucked up math makes these two things cancel out?
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 4:25 PM on October 31, 2019 [8 favorites]


I haven't heard anyone here say they cancel each other out. Rather, many have argued that they are in fact independent of each other, and each needs to be addressed separately and appropriately.
posted by PhineasGage at 5:01 PM on October 31, 2019 [1 favorite]


How are they independent of each other?
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 5:51 PM on October 31, 2019


Like how do you separate out the dude who is doing his best to take down his ex wife in part by putting personal shit out there about the relationship he was in with his ex wife and another woman?

That's two women whose texts and photos are out there because this guy put them out there. Unless we hear otherwise, the former campaign staffer did not consent to her shit going out as well. And given the evidence of this dude's abusiveness, I tend to assume he was abusive to the campaign staffer as well when they were all in a relationship.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 5:55 PM on October 31, 2019 [8 favorites]


How did the revenge porn force her to have sex with a subordinate?
posted by schroedinger at 5:59 AM on November 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


How did the revenge porn force her to have sex with a subordinate?

Counterpoint, How do you feel about the movie The Bodyguard, or The Front Page? Are imbalanced relationships baked into society, and if so is society hypocritical... I'll stop there.
posted by mikelieman at 6:33 AM on November 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


Now that you mention it, grumpybear69, there really should be more accountability for anyone that hosts images of revenge porn.

Once again, the issue here is Section 230 - if you set your revenge porn site up properly, only publishing images sent in by other individuals, you are legally in the clear in the US. The major cases where such sites have been busted fall into one of two categories - either the owner was caught posting images (and thus Section 230 ceased to apply); or images of individuals under the age of 18 were posted and thus were illegal to host.

Revenge porn has been one of the things that illustrates how ridiculous the blanket indemnity of Section 230 is - it should not be legal to host a site for revenge porn, and yet it is.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:10 AM on November 1, 2019 [5 favorites]


an apparently consensual relationship with a subordinate

You can't have a consensual relationship with someone for whom you control their livelihood. The consent goes beyond just supervisor/subordinate. It was her campaign. She's the owner. It's not implicit power. It's not power where someone above her will ultimately control the economic fate of the subordinate. It's her power. All of it. She abused it.

Is that as bad as the revenge porn? I say hell no it's not. But calling it consensual I find abhorrent.
posted by avalonian at 12:06 PM on November 1, 2019 [5 favorites]


You can't have a consensual relationship with someone for whom you control their livelihood

Although this statement is referrring to what we traditionally think of with workplace relationships (like a male boss who can fire his female secretary if she doesn’t sleep with him because he knows if she goes to HR or goes public about his demand she will not be believed and will be fired) it also applies the other way. A female boss propositioning a subordinate is risking her OWN livelihood because if the subordinate goes to HR/public the subordinate WILL be believed (even if they are lying; and, if male, the subordinate will actually be raised in social esteem for sleeping with the lady-boss) and the female boss will lose their job; there is not quite the same power imbalance. Women face getting fired for having sex with either their boss OR their subordinate, men (on the same scale) do not. The patriarchy sucks.
posted by saucysault at 5:26 AM on November 3, 2019 [4 favorites]


The CEO of McDonald's was just forced out of his job for having a consensual relationship with an employee.
posted by PhineasGage at 2:39 PM on November 3, 2019


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