If you don’t know who Katie Hill is — congratulations. That’s a likely indicator of a healthy level of separation from the news cycle. But as someone who lives in the swamp and works in politics, who also happens to be a messy bitch who lives for drama, I have to objectively acknowledge that this is one of the most exciting catastrophes I’ve ever seen.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I’m rooting against Hill based on partisan differences or like I have strong opinions about her either way. Before this story broke I didn’t even know who she was. But this is the high level degenerate political drama that you see in shows and movies but never think you’ll actually witness yourself. A congressman having an affair? Big whoop. A congressman sleeping with a staffer? You have my curiosity. A congressman engaging in some kind of polyamorous relationship with their spouse and a 20 year old staffer, then leaving behind said throuple for ANOTHER staffer in their office, with several nudes going public revealing a nazi tattoo? Shonda Rhimes literally couldn’t write this if she tried.
Naturally, I’ve seen a lot of opinions on this situation, but I have yet to come across a single one that really resonates with me.
I don’t think that “if you don’t want private photos leaked, don’t take them” is a thoughtful argument. Especially when the man that leaked them was her husband. This wasn’t just some guy. And if you can’t trust your literal husband with your nudes, what is trust in the first place?
On the other hand, I don’t think that a 32 year old woman should be treated like some unsuspecting victim that didn’t know better than the choices she made.
As a woman, I feel for Katie Hill. I don’t think an honest person can deny that there’s a discrepancy between the way women and men’s private discrepancies are perceived by the public. Men can get away with a lot more than women can, and recover a lot faster. I can’t imagine putting myself in the position that she put herself in with so many career-ending Ls stacked up one on top of the other, but there’s a dumb, impulsive, naive and even defiant bitch inside of all of us. We’ve all done things that we want to keep private — no matter how put together we seem on the surface. Even the most pearl clutching, God-fearing Instagram “Jesus lovers” have their dirty laundry. And I can’t imagine what having every mistake or indulgence or kink broadcasted like that what do to me, my family, my career or my mental health.
And with my 26th birthday around the corner, I know that being a real adult age doesn’t mean you’re suddenly immune to poor decision making. Sure, they should get fewer and farther between, but just because you’re 25 or 26 or 32 doesn’t mean that you’re infallible. And while I’ve never quite made a Katie Hill caliber series of mistakes, I’ve still messed up and I can still empathize. I’ve made different kinds of mistakes, but I did get fired after all.
That being said, it’s very hard for me to imagine a situation where a male elected official would be able to keep his job under the same circumstances. And watching these pundits and publications and even presidential candidates turn this into some kind of half baked addition to the 2020 DNC platform is actually painful.
Personally, I could care less about what congressmen and their staffers are doing after hours as long as I’m not paying for it, but sexual relationships between congressmen and staffers are in clear violation of House Rules, and it really is that black and white — no matter what kind of Lena Dunham angle you try to approach the issue from.
But while we’re talking about double standards, I can’t help but think that a lot of the liberal women coming to Hill’s defense would be singing a different tune if a Republican male lawmaker was caught in a comparable position.
Adult women and men are human. Adult women and men have flaws. But adult women and men also have fully developed brains that they should use to avoid these disasters. And as an adult woman, something should have clicked for Katie Hill.
She wasn’t JUST human. She wasn’t JUST flawed. She didn’t JUST have a throuple with a staffer, she didn’t JUST leave them for another staffer and she didn’t JUST take nudes. She was reckless, and if feminists turn her into a martyr and use her story as a catalyst in the conversation about double standards for women in power, it will set us back decades.
Also, are we ever going to talk about the Nazi tattoo on her crotch, or…?