California Congresswoman Katie Hill recently resigned due to a scandal involving the leak of her nude photos and rumors of affairs with staffers. The ensuing media coverage makes one thing clear- society still isn’t prepared to let a woman own her body.
Katie Hill pulled no punches when it came to her resignation speech. Not only did she call out the issue of revenge porn, a controversial term on its own, and issues surrounding women in power, she called out the hypocrisy over sexuality.
Yet a man who brags about his sexual predation, who has had dozens of women come forward to accuse him of sexual assault, who pushes policies that are uniquely harmful to women and who has filled the courts with judges who proudly rule to deprive women of the most fundamental right to control their own bodies, sits in the highest office in the land.”
If we’re going to talk about Katie Hill’s current circumstances we need to make one thing clear- this isn’t “leaking of nudes”. It’s a breach of former trust and privacy. Photos taken without her knowledge and consent were sent to the press. Whether they were sent out by her soon to be ex-husband or they were found by someone on the opposing political side, the intention was clear. Whoever got ahold of her photos chose to send them out in order to harm her reputation.
Katie Hill’s situation may seem ‘scandalous’ but it isn’t the only scandal we’ve seen involving sex come from Capitol Hill. Male politicians face sexually based scandals frequently, yet keep their positions. Bill Clinton, JFK, Donald Trump. These were treated as minor transgressions, their reputation not completely smudged but instead a pop culture punchline. These were all intentional acts. Her nude photos were not, and even if they were, they do not call for her resignation.
The upsetting part of this entire situation is also the stigma surrounding nude photos. How many times do we need to hear about someone getting hacked and their nudes getting leaked? Why do we all celebrate when a man’s nude photos are leaked but condemn women when in the same situation?
Even if you have not taken a nude photo of yourself, you know someone who has. I have at least three friends I can think of whom I know have taken some. And so what?
Taking nude photos does not diminish who they are as a person. Nor does it speak to their ability to carry out job responsibilities. The prevalence of articles focusing on the next woman who has had her nude photos leaked only speaks to society’s everlasting obsession of over-sexualizing a woman’s body.
Instead of crucifying a woman whose nude photos were leaked without her consent, how about we start holding those who hack and then leak these private photos accountable?
Yes we live in a world in which it’s incredibly easy to hack personal devices and cloud storage. Any photo we save on our phone could be hacked, sent to people we never intended it to be sent to, and misconstrued.
I can imagine how empowering it may make someone feel by taking nude photos. It’s a form of body appreciation that everyone should have the ability to choose, without fear that one day, either tomorrow or 10 years from now, it will be leaked to people it was never meant to be shared with.
Katie Hill is a victim here. As is any woman who has been put in similar situations. What a woman does with her body is her choice. It’s time we protect them.
Cover Image courtesy of HRC.
Also published on Medium.