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Interview with Karen Hinton on 'Penis Politics'

In this episode of The Lean to the Left Podcast, Karen Hinton, author of the new book, "Penis Politics," reveals her experiences as a Washington, DC insider and how she fended off advances from Bill Clinton, Andrew Cuomo, and others in power.

Hinton is a journalist and former press secretary to Andrew Cuomo and later to New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio. In our interview, she 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.

Hinton describes how powerful men assert control over women in a vulnerable or subordinate position as she discusses Andrew Cuomo’s sexual politics and more. Cuomo, she says, tried to convince women that he cared about them as he tried to seduce them.

"It was one of his little tricks in his bag of tricks," she says.

She talks about her relationship with famed Democratic political advisor James Carville and how she confronted him following the Monica Lewinsky accusations against Clinton when Carville said Lewinsky was a "bimbo" and "trailer park trash." "You know she's telling the truth," she says she told Carville, adding that it was the only time she saw him "speechless."

Hinton talks about the small, everyday abuses that some men use to magnify their power at home, in school, and in the office and how penis politics negatively impacts girls and women’s view of themselves and their options in life.

Women, she says, are “damned if you speak up and damned if you shut up,” and in the episode, she explains why.

Hinton was at the peak of her career in 2018 when a catastrophic brain injury from a treadmill fall 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. In the book and on our show, 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.

In the beginning of the episode, she reveals how the rape of her friend by a trusted former coach and school official affected her own life choices.

We thank Karen for sharing her story with us. Ironically, Facebook has banned her book from its site, apparently objecting to the word "penis," which Hinton stresses in our interview is "simply a body part."

Take a listen.

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