Revenge porn polluting politics: What Katie Hill can teach us


Former Rep. Katie Hill (D-Calif.) made history by being one of the first openly bisexual woman in Congress. Recently, she had to step down due to a revenge porn scandal because, according to The New York Times, intimate pictures of Hill surfaced on a number of platforms online. 

The leaked reports of her included Hill allegedly participating in sexual relations with her legislative director and a female staffer on her congressional campaign. The messages that were posted also insinuated that there was ongoing abuse in a relationship that she was involved in. Hill released a statement elaborating on the accusations and publicly talking about her previously abusive relationship. 

The House Ethics committee announced shortly after the news had broken that it would be conducting an open investigation into the allegations that Hill had engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate. After the announcement of the House Ethics Committee, Hill made the announcement that she’d be resigning from her position. 

“I know that as long as I am in Congress, we’ll live fearful of what might come next and how much it will hurt,” Hill said in a statement posted on Twitter. Her concerns aren’t empty, given that revenge porn is a tactic used by domestic violence abusers as a way to continue to exercise their power over their victims. 

The conversation around Hill’s revenge porn scandal brings up questions of what it is like being a woman in office, domestic violence and the conversation around the sex lives of public officials in this new era of Generation Z where most people have sent nude pictures to people we’re seeing. 

Hill is only one of the many of our public servants whose intimate life has been forcibly put out on social media for the world to see. But it’s different in her instance, given that she’s been forced to step down due to this scandal in fear that things will become worse for her if she had decided to stay. 

This issue is not limited to one case, and many women running for office have to worry about things that their male counterparts will mostly not get judged or forced to resign for. The list of Congressional sex scandals runs long, but by today’s standards, it seems rare that a revenge porn scandal forces a woman of such stature to step down from a position that she is admired for. 

Most people around the country and even the world have sexted, with varying professions, genders and ages being among the people involved in the digital act. “(McAfee wrote that) 96% of people use their phones to take pictures, and 49% send or receive sexual content via video, photo, e-mail or messaging," according to a recent study

While public officials are people we’ve bestowed the duty of making important decisions that dictate many essential things about our lives, they are also human beings first. The exposure of the sexual activities of elected officials has become somewhat a trending pattern in this new age of technology. 

Why do we continue to scrutinize public officials for partaking in the same activities most people do? Of, course one must tend to their business behind closed doors and should not push their sexual lives as an elected official in the public eye. But in the case of Hill, who was in a consensual relationship, the consequences of her situation cannot be as grave as resignation. 

We must factor in the track record of our elected officials, the work they’ve done and their humanity before we decide to shove them into the abyss of cancel culture and scrutiny. 


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