Congresswoman Katie Hill gave a fiery reproach to her critics after nude photos of the freshman lawmaker were leaked online, allegedly by her husband, bringing renewed attention to the issue of so-called revenge porn.
“I’m leaving because of a misogynistic culture that gleefully consumed my naked pictures,” Hill said in her last speech as a member of the House.
The California Democrat, 32, announced she would resign, effective Friday, after the sexually explicit images depicted a relationship between Hill and one of her female staff members.
While Hill apologized to her supporters for letting them down, she said there is a double standard that allows men accused of sexual misconduct to remain in some of the highest offices in the country.
“It’s completely pathetic and disgusting what happened to her,” said Bekah Wells, who established Women Against Revenge Porn in 2012.
The initiative was a response to a case involving Wells' ex-boyfriend, who she said posted several nude photos of her online as revenge during their break-up.
“You feel like your worth as a woman is nothing. You just can’t imagine,” Wells explained. “You pretty much just feel like a shell of a human being.”
While the majority of states have passed laws to address cases similar to that of Wells, Massachusetts has not.
“We felt it was an important issue in today’s cyber age,” said Gov. Charlie Baker, who has tried and failed to pass legislation on the subject in the past.
Under the bill, minors found to be sending explicit images of peers would be enrolled in an educational diversion program rather than go through the juvenile justice process.
Current state law calls for minors who distribute explicit images of peers to be subject to prosecution for the distribution or possession of child pornography.
This legislation would also create a new felony for adults who distribute a sexually explicit image for purposes of revenge or embarrassment.
“It’s certainly my hope that sometime between now and the end of this legislative session it passes,” said Baker, who re-filed his bill earlier this year and said at the time that it had received strong bipartisan support from lawmakers during the last legislative session.
But for women like Wells, the change should already be in place.
“I think Massachusetts needs to ask their legislators, why," she said. "Why don’t you have a bill that protects women?”