I spent the 1990s in high school and college. I appreciate the life lessons gained during that era: don’t smoke Swisher Sweets cigars the night before seeing your parents because you will be sick as a dog and your parents will not be amused; dating a 32-year-old man at the age of 19 unnecessarily ages parents; writing checks for money yet to be deposited in your account is not a winning life strategy; and it is best to park legally rather than taking out a loan to pay off your parking tickets and to remove the boot from your car. The best and hardest lesson I learned was when you make a mistake, just own it without excuse.
I was so focused on enjoying my 20s that I stretched my 21st birthday into a three-day extravaganza. I am grateful no damning evidence of “Tammi-palooza 1997” exists. When the Katie Hill story broke, I cringed and said a little prayer of gratitude that the bulk of my collegiate years is recounted by memory only. Ms. Hill is a congresswoman, and she engaged in a “throuple” relationship with her husband and another woman. While that type of relationship isn’t my cup of tea, I don’t judge what consensual adults do in their homes and relationships. Regrettably, documentary evidence of this relationship was reproduced to the media, and it was discovered that the woman portrayed in the “throuple” relationship with Ms. Hill and her husband was a campaign staffer. The “throuple” relationship itself, while controversial, wasn’t condemned; it was the nature of the superior-subordinate relationship that was at issue. As more photographs were released, Ms. Hill argued the release of photographs was performed by political operatives and because of “misogynistic culture” she was forced to resign her congressional seat.
Ms. Hill likely is the victim of “revenge porn,” which is a crime in her home state of California. But it wasn’t a misogynistic culture that “forced” Ms. Hill’s resignation; it was her choice to have a romantic relationship with a subordinate. Choices have consequences, and the consequences in Ms. Hill’s case are not the result of choosing to document intimate moments, but rather the choice to have a relationship with a subordinate. Conflating the two issues in order to obtain sympathy in her departure from Congress evidences a continued lack of full accountability Americans find so exasperating in elected officials. More importantly, blaming prejudice against women as the cause of her resignation further undermines efforts to eliminate the existence of true misogyny. Ms. Hill could regain her credibility without undermining efforts to rid misogyny from society by owning her mistake without excuse. It’s a lesson learned the hard way for most of us, but once learned rarely forgotten.
Tammi Fisher is an attorney and former mayor of Kalispell.