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Katie Hill Won’t Be The Last Political Victim Of Revenge Porn

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Katie Hill Won’t Be The Last Political Victim Of Revenge Porn

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Katie Hill

Return with us now to those titillating days of yesteryear.

Or yester-month, anyway. It’s been at least that long since a name-brand Washington politician was forced to resign due to a sex scandal. And everybody’s favorite kind of sex scandal at that: nude photos of an attractive young congresswoman, California Democrat Katie Hill, in intimate association with another woman.

“Revenge porn,” they call it. “Bisexual,” they whisper.

Which in the influential porn-for-profit industry is less politely known as hot girl on girl action.”

Actually, there’s nothing particularly erotic about the photos published to date, although the basics are clear: An embittered ex-husband peddling his wife’s intimate secrets to right-wing mischief makers at Red State. Who along with Britain’s Daily Mail claim to possess hundreds more naughty images of the photogenic congresswoman. Just about the cruelest, most classless thing a man could do to somebody he supposedly once loved.

The man should be horsewhipped, and forever banished from polite society—assuming such a thing as polite society exists anymore.

Not to mention the “journalists” who printed them. In many jurisdictions, Washington, D.C. among them, publishing what the law calls “nonconsensual pornography” is a crime—although it wouldn’t take much of a lawyer to argue that the images, which don’t depict sexual activity, aren’t technically pornographic, even if Red State’s openly acknowledged motive was to wreck the congresswoman’s career.

This boundary once crossed, we’re almost certain to see more of it.

Katie Hill herself, a charismatic Democratic star once seen as California’s answer to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and whose sexual orientation was never a secret, cast the blame widely in her farewell speech on Capitol Hill.

I am leaving,” she explained “because of a misogynistic culture that gleefully consumed my naked pictures, capitalized on my sexuality and enabled my abusive ex to continue that abuse, this time with the entire country watching.”

OK, fine, although I’m left with a couple of questions. First, who took the photos? Assuming it was Hill’s jealous rat of a husband, did she ever think it was a good idea? If so, she’s been extraordinarily foolish, basically a political time bomb waiting to explode. Just as well that it happened early during her congressional career, rather than later, when there might have been greater collateral damage to persons and issues greater than herself.

Katie Hill was her own worst enemy.

I’ve been surprised to learn how strongly older women I’ve spoken with about this issue feel about Katie’s folly. Maybe it’s generational. After all, my wife and I grew up in an era when priests sat in darkened confessional booths encouraging teenaged children to confess “touching impurely.”

So posing for sexy-time photos in threesomes and more-somes strikes us as deeply self-destructive, politically speaking. If that’s your hobby, find a different profession. Maybe men shouldn’t be so interested in gazing at images of naked women, but a visit to any art gallery from the Louvre to the Arkansas Arts Center shows it’s been a major human preoccupation since forever. Expect no changes.

Indeed, back when digital photography and the Internet first became a thing, I distinctly recall warning a group of college girls to be cautious. “I don’t care what he promises he makes or how much he begs,” I remember saying. “If you let your boyfriend take naked photographs, your father will end up seeing them on the Internet.”

You see, I know a thing or two about old Dad.

One time I wrote a column empathizing with TV sportscaster Erin Andrews after a Peeping Tom shot naked video of her through her hotel room keyhole. A distinguished gentleman of my acquaintance messaged me wanting to know how he could see it.

That’s old Dad for you.

Even so, I remain relatively unmoved by rhetoric about “slut-shaming,” and efforts to “weaponize women’s sexuality against them.” Nobody made Hill resign. Presumably, she couldn’t stand up to what she feared would be coming if she didn’t. She was blackmailed, yes. Too bad she didn’t think she could face it down.

Writing in the Washington Post, Molly Roberts opined that if nude beefcake photos of a male congressman appeared, “he’d probably earn accolades for his virility instead of attacks for his wantonness along the way.”

Well, former Massachusetts GOP Sen. Scott Brown did some R-rated male modeling as a lad, but no candid camera stuff. Otherwise, I don’t think so.

Fellow Washington Post columnist Christine Emba fears for her entire millennial generation, citing “one 2015 study [that] found that 82 percent of adults have sexted in the past year.”

Editor, please: if that were even remotely true, Katie Hill wouldn’t have a problem, now would she?

Look, Washington sex scandals are as old as Congress. True, Alexander Hamilton’s wasn’t a congressman when his adultery came to light in 1797. He was Secretary of the Treasury.

Hamilton lived it down. Too bad Katie Hill couldn’t.

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Gene Lyons

Gene Lyons is a political columnist and author. Lyons writes a column for the Arkansas Times that is nationally syndicated by United Media. He was previously a general editor at Newsweek as wells an associate editor at Texas Monthly where he won a National Magazine Award in 1980. He contributes to Salon.com and has written for such magazines as Harper's, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Review of Books, Entertainment Weekly, Washington Monthly, The Nation, Esquire, and Slate. A graduate of Rutgers University with a Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia, Lyons taught at the Universities of Massachusetts, Arkansas and Texas before becoming a full-time writer in 1976. A native of New Jersey, Lyons has lived in Arkansas with his wife Diane since 1972. The Lyons live on a cattle farm near Houston, Ark., with a half-dozen dogs, several cats, three horses, and a growing herd of Fleckvieh Simmental cows. Lyons has written several books including The Higher Illiteracy (University of Arkansas, 1988), Widow's Web (Simon & Schuster, 1993), Fools for Scandal (Franklin Square, 1996) as well as The Hunting Of The President: The 10 Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton, which he co-authored with National Memo Editor-in-Chief Joe Conason.

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