Penis Politics: A Memoir of Women, Men And Power (Sartoris Literary Group; December 1, 2021) by Karen Hinton, a journalist and former press secretary to Andrew Cuomo and later to New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio, offers an insider’s view of what it’s like to be a woman in the newsroom, the halls of Congress and the highest reaches of American political power. The book is available for pre-order at Amazon.
Hinton’s memoir expands on her widely-read New York Daily News op-ed coining the term “penis politics” to describe how powerful men assert control over women in a vulnerable or subordinate position and the extensive media attention Hinton received over her revelations of Andrew Cuomo’s sexual politics.
Throughout the book, Hinton writes about the small, everyday abuses that some men use to magnify their power at home, in school, and in the office. She shows how penis politics negatively impacts girls and women’s view of themselves and their options in life, saying that women are “damned if you speak up and damned if you shut up.” Known for never ducking a fight, Hinton was at the peak of her career in 2018 when a catastrophic brain injury propelled her into the battle of her life. Emerging from a coma, learning to walk, talk and write again, she was determined to “speak up, not shut up” on issues involving women, men and power.
In Penis Politics, Hinton writes of the toxic brew of ego, entitlement, and “bro-culture” that is especially difficult for women to navigate in politics. She reveals how certain well-known men create a public image as champions of women’s rights and equality, but behind closed doors, they use gender domination to assert their authority.
With unflinching candor, Hinton discusses the sexual trauma that affected her and her close-knit group of girlfriends in rural Mississippi in the 1970s. She goes on to describe her career as a journalist and then a political operative and press secretary, evading Bill Clinton's humiliating pickup attempt; maneuvering a tumultuous relationship with Southern writer Willie Morris; dragging highly-acclaimed author Bill Styron dead drunk out of her VW bug; and ultimately struggling with her headline-grabbing confrontations with former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“I learned lessons in penis politics throughout my life from my interactions with high school coaches and principals, boyfriends, college professors, newspaper editors, lovers, and politicians,” Hinton explains. “Along the way, I struggled to master strategies for dealing with men of power that many women will recognize from their own lives. While the details of their stories may vary from mine, what remains consistent are the ways in which misogyny, sex and discrimination shape how girls and women view themselves and their options.”
Ultimately, what women want is to be treated with respect in their daily lives and as professionals in their work. Hinton’s goal with Penis Politics is to help change the way we treat each other. The book is an outspoken appeal to moving us in the right direction and a wake-up call for men to support the women in their lives.
To learn more, visit Karen Hinton’s website.
About the Author
Karen Hinton is the author of PENIS POLITICS. She served as press secretary to Andrew Cuomo when he was federal Housing Secretary and later to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. She began her career as a reporter in Mississippi and Colorado; served as press secretary to Congressman Mike Espy; worked for the Democratic National Committee; and held various positions in communications and public relations. Hinton regularly contributes to the New York Daily News and other publications, focusing on the topics of #MeToo, sexual harassment, and skewering big oil, big banks, and other big bullies. A University of Mississippi graduate, Hinton and her husband divide their time between New Orleans and New York City.