Katie Hill, a freshmen Democrat from California’s 25th Congressional District, resigned from Congress on Oct. 27 after she confirmed allegations of an illicit sexual relationship with her campaign finance manager, a subordinate in her office.
Hill initially denied the allegations, while later backtracking and claiming that the affair had ended before she had been sworn into office, which would have exempted her from the new ethics reform that was enacted last year as a result of the #MeToo movement. However, it wasn’t long after the allegations of the extramarital affair came out that nude photos of her were leaked on a British tabloid and far-right news website, RedState, and she announced her resignation.
As Hill indicated in her final speech on the House floor on Oct. 31, this is just a case study in double standards and institutionalized misogyny. Despite the unfortunate optics of the situation, if we are to take Hill on her word (i.e., the relationship ended prior to her swearing-in), she technically did nothing wrong and is, in fact, the most recent victim of revenge porn.
To echo Hill’s sentiment in her speech, it seems ridiculous that we would persecute her for an extramarital affair when there remain to be credible allegations of sexual assault against male members of congress and our sitting president. Yet again, this is an example of the institutionalization of discrimination and unfair treatment of women in the workplace. Additionally, Hill has suggested that her now ex-husband is responsible for the leaks and that he had been abusive. Nevertheless, it is clearly not an ideal situation that Hill had a relationship with one of her subordinates on the campaign trail. It is a problematic power dynamic for a supervisor and an employee to have a sexual relationship at any time.
Fortunately, though, the response of other popular male and female figures has been to back Hill up and emphasize the fact that she has been the victim of a horrible crime. Particularly, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) has come out in support of Hill and noted that incidents like these will be likely to deter other women from running for congress. Another Representative, Florida’s Matt Gaetz, has also come out in support of Hill and emphasized that older members of the body who are more disconnected from technology may not understand how common it is for nude photos to leak and that they should develop more sympathy for Hill and others in her position.
Above all else, it is abundantly clear that websites like RedState – that publish nude photos of women without their consent – must be held accountable for their actions and shut down, and that Katie Hill’s decision to resign should have been entirely her own, without influence from the public.