Book Review: 'She Will Rise' By Katie Hill Featured

Post by: Rick Ellis 11 August, 2020
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Katie Hill has the right to feel angry and betrayed.

In the fall of 2018, Hill was one of the rising young stars of the Democratic Party. After a successful and influential stint as Executive Director for People Assisting the Homeless (PATH) - where she helped lead the push to pass a ballot initiative that provided 1.2 billion dollars for the homeless - she successfully ran for a Congressional seat that had been in Republican hands for a couple of decades. Former President Obama appeared at one of her campaign events, she was the focus of a documentary series that aired on Vice and she was received a great deal of national media attention. She was seen as one of the shining stars in the generation of new Democratic female legislators that were elected in the 2018 election.

But within a year, her Congressional career was over. A conservative web site posted nude photos of Hill as part of a story that alleged she had an affair with one her aides. While she initially denied the charges, she later admitted that the affair had taken place, but before she was officially sworn into Congress. She also blamed her husband for the story becoming public and for leaking the photos to the press. She eventually resigned her seat, but not before giving a passionate speech on the floor of the House in which she argued that she was giving up her seat despite the fact that male colleagues had kept their jobs after committing equal or worse ethical violations.

"She Will Rise" is part autobiography and part reflection of the state of American politics. It might sound glib to say the book is the one you would expect Hill to write at this point in her career. But it's also an accurate take and how much you enjoy the book will probably hinge on how happy you are with that fact.

Hill has put together a solid look at some of the challenges female politicians have faced in earlier years and she admits to be concerned that future female candidates will be dissuaded from pursuing political office after seeing the public scrutiny she faced. She wisely argues that politics is still filled with misogyny and casual sexism. And that men and women should be treated equally when it comes to ethical violations.

It's true that there are men serving in Congress today that committed equally dumb ethical lapses as Hill and yet still kept their jobs. It's certainly not a fair situation. But Hill also doesn't seem to have come to grips with her role in the events that led to her resignation. She claims her ex-husband leaked the nude photos to punish her and that she had a relationship with someone in her Congressional office because her ex-husband was so controlling that work was the only place where she was able to form a relationship. All of which might be true. But while arguing that "a lot of other people are doing it" seems to be the argument de jour in 2020, it's not a great indication that when face with an ethical challenge, women will do any better with the situation than their male counterparts.

Katie Hill is an impressive person and I suspect she will continue to accomplish great things. But "She Will Rise" feels more like a bookmark to a turning point in her professional life instead of a guidepost to where she goes from here.

Last modified on Tuesday, 11 August 2020 13:29