In 2018, a record number of female candidates were elected to Congress. It was a moment to celebrate for the country, but for the freshman women in Congress, it was also an eye opener.
Rep. Katie Hill discusses the "archaic sexism" she experiences on Capitol Hill, including inappropriate jokes and comments about other women's appearance https://t.co/l0jTGXhL7H pic.twitter.com/PD0PFXRZQB
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) April 4, 2019
Rep. Katie Hill (D-CA) worked for a non-profit with most other women before coming to Congress, so the culture of casual and blatant sexism was even more of a surprise to her. In an appearance on CNN, Hill discussed the Joe Biden scandal, saying that the debate is not about how intention but the way he made the women coming forward feel, and described how rife with misogyny Capital Hill really is.
She described a conversation with a male member of Congress, who took her passing joke as an invitation to proposition her sexually.
‘I was talking with one of my colleagues on the floor, and he gives a lot of these one-minute speeches and it is an opportunity to have to talk about any subject for one minute…I was like, “oh, you’re Mr. One-minute Man” referring to the speeches. And he’s like, “I can also be One-minute Man and Mr. Five-minute Man, whatever kind of man you want.”‘
— EMILY's List (@emilyslist) April 3, 2019
Women are also judged for their appearance instead of their policies and experience, Hill said. In another conversation with a male colleague, he discussed his opponent in the upcoming elections, who is female. He didn’t Hill, who is familiar with the challenger, about his opponent’s qualifications or policies, but he did ask if she was attractive. The way he asked was especially cringeworthy.
‘Yesterday I had another my colleagues who said, “I had a woman who is running against me who came out just recently and announced” and he’s asking me about her and he’s like, “well is she a babe?”‘
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) November 17, 2018
Hill is not the only freshman Democrat who has had these experiences. As a Latina woman, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) deals with misogyny on an entirely different level, one that includes racism in the mix. During her first days in Congress, she says she was repeatedly mistaken for an intern or a spouse, since young brown women can’t possibly hold positions of power in her white, male colleagues minds.
Newsweek reported that:
‘Ocasio-Cortez was on her way to a member luncheon in Washington, D.C., when someone directed her to an event being held at the same time for the spouses of elected Democrats.
‘“I was sent to the spouse event,” she wrote on Twitter. The congresswoman added that she was also stopped because someone assumed that she was an “intern/staffer” instead of a House member.’
For the full CNN segment with Katie Hill, see video below:
Featured image screenshot via YouTube