Democrats

REVIEW: ‘She Will Rise’ By Disgraced Former Congresswoman Katie Hill

Sexual pioneer ponders political comeback, but is she "woke" enough?

Former representative Katie Hill (D., Calif.) made history last year when she became the youngest and highest-ranking female politician to resign due to a sex scandal. She also introduced the term "throuple" into the national discourse—something even the Democratic Party's most prolific (male) sexual deviants, including Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy, and Anthony Weiner, never managed to accomplish.

Hill, 33, may have been snubbed out of a speaking slot at last week's Democratic convention, but that doesn't mean she's no longer considered a "rising star" within the party. On the contrary, her new memoir, She Will Rise: Becoming a Warrior in the Battle for True Equality, suggests a political comeback is imminent. 

As she makes clear in the book, Hill remains conflicted about her decision to resign, which came after nude photos of her were published in RedState and the Daily Mail, along with revelations that she had been part of a romantic "throuple" involving her now ex-husband and a female member of her campaign staff. She seems unsure as to whether resigning—even though many of her Democratic colleagues urged her not to—was the right thing to do, or whether she was forced to resign because of misogyny. "I, like so many other women, was used to show what happens when we scorn men," she writes.

Hill is also apparently conflicted about whether the #MeToo movement's "zero-tolerance policy" is a good thing (when applied to men), or whether it's really fair to punish women like her for "any transgression whatsoever." Hill was among those who who urged Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.) to step down in 2017 after photos emerged of the former comedian pretending to grope a female colleague, which many Democrats did not believe should have cost the senator his job. So her position isn't entirely clear.

"A gray area does exist," she writes in defense of her relationship with the campaign staffer. "But right now, there's no space for gray, and I take full responsibility for what I did." However, even the New York Times review of She Will Rise was underwhelmed by Hill's lack of "self-reflection" and her "glaring" "unwillingness" to own up to the "unambiguous ethical violation" of her relationship with the staffer. The thing she feels the most guilty about is the fact that a Republican won the special election to replace her.

The substance of Hill's book is best explained by a profile, also published in the Times, which describes it as "full of platitudes about shattering glass ceilings, women as ‘warriors' and what it’s going to take ‘to claim our rightful seats at every leadership table.'" There's also an abundance of data and familiar talking points cribbed from the research farms of liberal activist groups. At the very least, per the Times, the book is "a decent primer" for "politically disaffected young women."

Not all women, obviously. That would be crazy. Because despite Hill's all-caps exhortation to vote for women "BECAUSE THEY ARE WOMEN," she is only interested in the "progressive" ones—not the ones who suffer from an "internalized sexism" that "causes so many women to vote against our own interests." She envisions a mass political movement modeled after the Women's March that took place after Donald Trump was elected, which inspired her and dozens of other women to run for Congress in 2018.

As powerful as such a movement could be in theory, it is destined to fail in practice thanks to the prevailing "wokeness" among young liberals. The Women's March organization couldn't help but get consumed by "intersectional" concerns that reject Hill's rather conventional definition of "women's issues" as offensively narrow. Hence the infighting over anti-Semitism, Louis Farrakhan, and the culpability of white women in preserving structural racism.

She Will Rise is full of problematic material that could end up excluding Hill (and many others) from any political movement ostensibly dedicated to women's rights. She admits to "heavily fangirling" over Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, renowned suffragettes whose accomplishments were sullied by white supremacy. She suggests that porn might not be entirely good—a controversial opinion in some feminist circles—and laments that working women have "lost out on money we might have made if only we had penises." Hill should know better than to suggest that women don't have penises, which is about as ridiculous as saying men can't have periods.

Hill may still have a place in the Democratic Party's future. Notwithstanding the Times‘s criticism of her book, the mainstream media has been more than willing to facilitate her political rehabilitation, so she might as well give it a shot. "Right now it’s hard for me to imagine running again," Hill said in a recent interview. "But that doesn’t mean there’s not a scenario where things line up."