The double standard occurring on Capitol Hill right now is ridiculous. It’s inexcusable, embarrassing and reveals the true colors of the current political parties in Washington.
As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, newly elected representative Katie Hill resigned from Congress on Oct. 27. Hill, a freshman Democrat from California’s 25th congressional district, won her reliably conservative district last November, helping the House flip from Republican to Democrat-controlled. Her resignation came days after nude photos were released on conservative website RedState and allegations surfaced accusing Hill of having an affair with her Congressional legislative director – which is against House rules. Although Hill vehemently denied this claim, she publicly admitted that she did have a sexual relationship with a staffer from her election campaign. While unethical, this kind of relationship does not violate House rules.
Hill’s resignation was warranted and necessary. She was in the wrong. She behaved inappropriately, acknowledged her mistakes and did the right thing: she resigned.
But there’s one thing about this entire situation that has bothered me. And no matter how hard I try to ignore it, I can’t.
This would not be occurring if she was a Republican man.
If she was a male Republican, she would deny the allegations, regardless of their validity, continue working in Congress without any serious reprimands and carry on as if nothing had happened in the first place. Yet because she’s a Democrat, and honestly because she’s a woman, she’s held to a seemingly higher standard than her Republican colleagues.
For example, Hill had an inappropriate consensual affair and resigned. Yet our current President has dozens of sexual misconduct allegations against him. He remains in power. Duncan Hunter, also a representative from California, has been accused of having sexual relationships with staffers. He is facing charges of using campaign funds to finance the affairs. Yet he remains in power. The difference between him and Hill is that he’s a Republican and he’s a man.
This isn’t a new double standard and this isn’t an isolated incident.
When Al Franken was accused of sexual misconduct in 2017, people from both sides of the political aisle were quick to reprimand his behavior, which ultimately resulted in Franken resigning. On the other hand, when Roy Moore, Republican Senate nominee from Alabama, was accused of sexual assault and child molestation, Republicans were quick to defend his actions. They didn’t care about the extent of his crimes, nor did they bother to investigate the validity of such claims. All that many Republican officials cared about was securing one more red seat on Capitol Hill.
When the allegations about Hill came out, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was quick to condemn Hill’s actions. When Moore was accused, powerful Republicans didn’t bother to denounce him or call for his withdrawal from the Senate race. They brushed the allegations aside, failing to hold Moore to the same standards that Democrats hold their fellow politicians to.
Another thing that’s bothered me about this entire situation is the nature of her allegations. Everything about Hill’s alleged affair was consensual – the same cannot be said for many Republicans accused of sexual misconduct – and the nude photos that were published were leaked without her permission, in a form of “revenge porn” which is illegal in California. That means, although she’s in the wrong, she’s also a victim.
Hill’s resignation speech sums up beautifully how I feel about this situation.
“I am leaving 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,” she said.
Hill’s actions were unethical. Don’t mistake this column for me excusing that in any regard. But do take this column as me expressing my frustrations about the double standard that occurs when a Republican is accused of sexual assault compared to when a Democrat is accused of sexual assault.
It’s disheartening to witness this form of hypocrisy occur time after time.