Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speaks during her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill
(SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

I’m so Disappointed by Nancy Pelosi’s Response to Katie Hill’s Resignation

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In a press conference following Rep. Katie Hill’s final floor speech yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked what she thought of Hill’s resignation. Her immediate answer was perfunctory, saying only that it was Hill’s decision to make. And that’s definitely where she should have stopped.

Instead, Pelosi continued, saying,  “I do say to my own children and grandchildren, especially young children, you know, some of these–I don’t know what to call them–appearances on social media can come back to haunt you if they are taken out of context and that. But I do think that we have to be careful.”

This is so disappointing. To start, this is not a case of someone posting something on social media that came back to bite them. This is a woman who, in her words, has been the victim of an “abusive husband and the brutality of political operatives who seem to happily provide a platform to a monster who is driving a smear campaign built around cyber exploitation.”

The intimate photos of Hill that were published on RedState and the Daily Mail weren’t ones she’d posted publicly. She says the photos were taken from her and published without her knowledge or consent. So while Pelosi’s words don’t make total sense, they’re also way too close to the common argument of “if you don’t want your nudes to be hacked or leaked, don’t take them.”

For one thing, that’s flat-out victim blaming. For another, it’s just unrealistic. Nude or otherwise sexual selfies have become a nearly ubiquitous form of intimacy among younger generations. And the threat of those sorts of exchanges being hacked or released by partners affects women in far different ways than men and it’s an issue we’ll have to address as more young people–especially young women, nonbinary, and LGBTQ+ people–start running for office.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said as much to Politico following Hill’s speech.

“This doesn’t happen to male members in the same way — revenge porn in this respect. It’s horrific,” she said, adding that “of course” it will deter some women form those younger generations from seeking public office. “I don’t think we’re really talking about how targeted and serious this is. We’re talking about a major crime… being committed against her.”

This is the sort of response we should expect from her colleagues. But it may be more of a generational issue than anything else. I can’t think of any other reason why I could find myself agreeing with terrible and obnoxious Florida Republican Matt Gaetz over Nancy Pelosi about anything.

37-year-old Gaetz has tweeted numerous times in support of Hill since RedState first published her photos and the Congressional ethics investigation into her alleged relationships with staffers was launched.

As Mother Jones’ Stephanie Mencimer notes, “Gaetz’s tweets were notable for their empathy, something that rarely shows up in his regular Fox News appearances, where he serves as an attack-dog surrogate for the Trump administration.”

Gaetz also, in what may be his one redeeming quality, “seems genuinely committed to the idea that his party needs to move into the 21st century and abandon its attacks on LGBTQ people,” writes Mencimer.

I can’t believe I’m saying this but … Matt Gaetz is right. I’m totally in favor of ethics investigations into accusations of misconduct (although, as a reminder, the relationship Hill admitted to having with a campaign staffer may have been inappropriate but it is not against any official Congressional rules, and the other relationship, which she’s denied, seems to have stemmed entirely from a Facebook post written by her embittered ex-husband) but most Democrats have ignored that there is another huge element to Hill’s story. The abuse she’s suffered at the hands of her ex-husband and the Republican operatives in the right-wing media is complicated, but it’s too important to outright ignore.

(image: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.