Tessa Hughes is a journalism sophomore and Mustang News columnist. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Mustang News.
When I was asked what I wanted to be when I was older, my answer should have been a straight, white, Republican male politician. That way, I’d be untouchable. I would be able to get away with anything I want, even crimes, in the public sector and nobody would bat an eye.
The latest victim of America unfairly reprimanding women based on sex is former congresswoman Katie Hill.
Hill recently stepped down from her seat in congress after receiving immense scrutiny — causing her to fear for her life — for nude photos, ones that were taken without her knowledge, being published without her consent. The photograph depicted “drug use, a controversial tattoo and the ‘throuple’ she and her now-estranged husband were engaged in with a younger [female] campaign staffer,” according to a RealClearPolitics article.
On top of this, she was accused of having a consensual affair with a male congressional staffer once elected into office, which Hill has repeatedly denied. The Congressional Misconduct Database said Hill claims that the “allegation came from her soon to be ex-husband as part of their divorce.” The way Hill has been treated in the wake of the scandal is blasphemous.
Now, if the alleged accusations against Hill and her congressional staffer were true, that would be the only action she committed that is against House rules. Her previous relations with her campaign staffer are not. Last I checked, tattoos and polyamory are not against the law either.
As for the pot? Come on, everyone is smoking it! Marijuana is hardly a crime anymore, but you know what still are very serious crimes? Sexual assault. Prostitution. Abusing taxpayer money. Yet there are countless Republican men that are still allowed to occupy office after allegedly committing one or more of these illicit acts.
Former Republican Senator David Vitter admitted to being involved in a Washington prostitution ring while in office in 2007, but was reelected in 2010. Republican Gov. Mark Sanford admitted to a tax-payer funded affair in 2009, but won a Congressional seat in 2013. Republican Scott DesJarlais admitted to multiple affairs and pressuring one of them to have an abortion but he remains in Congress. Republican Duncan Hunter also admitted to using campaign funds for extramarital affairs with subordinates but he remains in Congress.
The cherry on top: the orange cheese puff we call our president. Donald Trump has countless sexual assault allegations against him, yet there he is still allowed to run our country.
Come on America, where are our priorities?
We are unjustly forcing candidates out of office for committing acts that we all do and dismissing the heinous actions of actual criminals.
The photographs were both taken and released without her consent, making Hill a victim of revenge porn. Her ex-husband, Kenny Heslep, who Hill has also said is abusive, is supposedly the perpetrator of distributing the pictures when he became upset about Hill’s alleged affair with her male staffer.
Let me repeat that for clarity: Heslep threw a fit after he thought his wife slept with another man.
First: Revenge porn is never okay, regardless of its in retaliation to infidelity or not. Second, Hill has repeatedly denied accusations of the affairs, which as a country we seem to believe when men deny affairs, so why can’t we trust Hill?
(Oh wait, sorry, I forgot, she’s a woman. Women are the enemy is every situation when it comes to politics. They just hate men and will do everything in their power to dominate. Sorry.)
In addition, Hill has been more transparent and honest about her actual wrongdoings throughout the entire process, giving people no reason to not believe her now. Besides, Heslep had no problem with other people being brought into his marriage when it was women and on his terms.
Heslep was fine when Hill allowed him to have a threesome with her and one of her female campaign staffers. As long as his tent was pitched, he was a happy camper. I’m sure it made him feel very manly and macho, actually.
It wasn’t until there was the threat of another man that Heslep reacted, trying to make himself seem like the victim. He attacked Hill knowing that, like him, America is full of slut-shaming. He is not being convicted of his crimes, even though distributing revenge porn is punishable with jail time, and Hill is being forced out of office.
Not only is what Heslep did illegal, but he is being inconsiderate of Hill’s bisexuality. He did what many men do and fetishize Hill’s attraction to women, delegitimizing it. He probably never took her sexuality seriously when she was around women because he doesn’t find women threatening. He probably figured, worse case scenario, if his wife wanted to be with a woman they could experiment together, which they did. It wasn’t until there was another man around that Heslep felt his ego beginning to crack.
Society likes to treat bisexuals like unicorns: mythical. If a woman is bisexual, they are really just straight and going through an experimental phase, and if a man is bisexual they are just on their journey to coming out as fully gay. Men are seen as the only genuine option in terms of partners. Heslep is invalidating his estranged wife’s sexuality because he felt that there was no way a woman could replace what he could provide her.
Newsflash: obviously she can, proving that once again, what is in the pants is irrelevant to how qualified you are.
Releasing the videos, submitting Hill to immense scrutiny and threatening the career she has worked incredibly hard for, proves that Hill’s husband felt entitled to her and her body. Since they were legally married, he thought, in a very old fashioned way, that he could control how the public saw his wife. Now Heslep has denied releasing the videos, claiming he was hacked, he hasn’t done so publicly. He is using his father as a middleman. Heslep unleashed a shitstorm he was not ready to face, but you know who was? Katie Hill.
Throughout all of this, she has faced the music, owned up to her actions. In her closing remarks Hill begged for forgiveness and profusely apologized to everyone she let down. She was a member of office anyone — women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, anyone who has just made a silly mistake — could relate to. She represented minority groups and gave a voice to those who have been constantly repressed in society, yet she feels like she let people down.
Hill committed actions most of the population has, yet our country decided to chastise her for it because she represented what the heterosexual, white, cisgender, Republican men leading our country are afraid of.
As her last act as a congresswoman, Hill decided to vote to proceed with the impeachment of Trump “on behalf of the woman of the United States of America.” She cited the misogyny that our government is laced with a reason for her wanting to come in and fix a broken system, but the treatment she received was unbearable and unjust.
Nothing that I am saying is new information. Our political system is hypocritical, sexist and unrepresentative of our country, yet it persists because of the intimidation tactics of the rich and powerful. What I am trying to highlight is that Hill is the perfect example of political oppression in our country. She was different, and she was reprimanded more harshly than any of her coworkers because she didn’t fit the mold for traditional politician.
Katie Hill should not have felt scared for her life, the need to resign or that she failed anyone because she was unfairly treated. No one should feel superior to others because of their gender, sexual orientation, race, etc. because those are things that do not make you better than others. Our system is broken and the ones that are trying to fix it are being forced out.
Hill should still have her job in congress because whether or not you agree with her views, she ran for the reason any should run in our country: to make a difference. She didn’t do it for power or status, but to enact change she believed in. She is a wholesome millennial, meaning that some of her personal actions may be a tad risqué, but she is passionate and cares about others. She is someone I was happy to see representing our country, and someone I was dismayed and pissed off to see leave.