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Katie Hill: A Victim of Revenge Porn

  • October 28, 2019

Politics and Revenge Porn

This last week, revenge porn pictures of Democratic Representative Katie Hill were released on a conservative website showing what appear to be the congressperson naked, smoking a bong, and making out with one of her former campaign aides.

In response, Ms. Hill felt that she had no choice but to resign.

The Guardian summed the situation up best:

. . . Hill’s own conduct – tacky, unprofessional, and ill-advised as it was – pales in comparison to what is being done to her, which amounts to a misogynist rightwing smear campaign. The publication of the nude photograph belies any claim . . . to being concerned about the ethics of Hill’s conduct. Instead, what Hill’s attackers seem interested in is a wholesale discrediting of the congresswoman, complete with psychological abuse, public humiliation, and misogynist cruelty of the kind that is all too common an experience for women, from the most vulnerable to the most powerful among them. The fact that Hill is not a perfect victim should not distract us from the true issue at hand: that RedState and its rightwing compatriots have brought the tactics of domestic abuse into our politics.

Not a “Perfect Victim”

This type of “psychological abuse, public humiliation, and misogynist cruelty” is not only morally wrong, it’s textbook revenge porn which is illegal in 46 states.

We as a society should hold those who resort to revenge porn for whatever gain to the highest standard of the law. Revenge porn transcends politics.

As Ms. Hill’s unlikely ally, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz, tweeted last week:

This is just absurd. Who among us would look perfect if every ex leaked every photo/text? Katie isn’t being investigated by Ethics or maligned because she hurt anyone – it is because she is different.

Fake Outrage

And any cries of moral outrage should fall upon deaf ears. As journalist Moira Donegan says:

What is afoot is not an attempt to ensure the ethical exercise of a congressmember’s power, but an unethical attempt to humiliate, intimidate and smear a congressmember using sexist tropes to imply that as a woman, she is not eligible for power at all. Women have always had to answer for this sexist assumption, the idea that there is somehow a contradiction between their sexuality and their dignity, or their intelligence. Hill, for her part, describes her ex-husband as abusive. We do not know where the nude picture of her came from, but if he was the one who sent it in for publication, then that description would seem accurate.

Revenge Porn Posters Must Be Punished

We hope that whoever tried to ruin Congressperson Hill’s life with one click is brought to justice and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Revenge porn has no place in a civilized society, even if our politics sometimes devolve toward the uncivilized.