Karen Hinton once worked as a press secretary for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and according to the onetime aide, they were less-than-great experiences.
In fact, Hinton claims that the Democratic politicos are guilty of practicing what she calls "penis politics."
And by Hinton's calculations, no one has ever been better at it than Cuomo — though de Blasio did his best to create an office atmosphere where men exerted power over women.
What has Hinton claimed?
Hinton, who is writing a book about men dominating women in politics, penned an op-ed Wednesday for the New York Daily News and recounted her experience working for Cuomo during his tenure as HUD secretary under President Bill Clinton.
It turns out that Cuomo's reputation as a bully — which was recently brought to the fore following accusations that he threatened a state lawmaker for daring to call out his "BS" regarding the state's ongoing nursing home COVID death scandal — is warranted, if Hinton's claims are to be believed.
She began her op-ed saying she had spent her life in politics, "a field where power and ambition drive both sexes, but take on a particular dynamic for women working for men."
In her experience, Cuomo's "penchant for bullying" isn't unusual in politics — it's the norm — but Cuomo is unique in how good he is at "penis politics":
The recent spate of stories about Gov. Cuomo's penchant for bullying isn't about behavior that's unusual in politics. It's the norm. Andrew, with whom I had a decades-long professional relationship, isn't the only practitioner of what I call “penis politics." He just happens to be the master of the art ...
According to Hinton, Cuomo gave her a job during his days in Washington, D.C., and then "worked to undermine" her and dominate her daily:
Day to day, he made me feel as if I were no good at my job and thus totally dependent on him to keep it. In Cuomo's world — and he would never admit this even to himself — working for him is like a 1950′s version of marriage. He always, always, always comes first. Everyone and everything else — your actual spouse, your children, your own career goals — is secondary. Your focus 24 hours a day is on him.
If you need more time with your own family, he will treat you like you are cheating on him. If you have your eye on another, better job, he'll try to make that job disappear. Escaping Cuomo is tough because he has to exercise total control.
And de Blasio wasn't much better on the "penis politics" front — he just practiced a different "brand" of it, she said.
Hinton said Hizzoner's "signature move" was to "dig in on an untenable position" that was bound to lose and then attack staffers who attempted to dissuade him from his bad ideas, treating them with "condescension" — especially if those staffers were women. De Blasio's office, she said, had a habit of interrupting women more and listening to them less.
"By the end of his first term, the mayor had lost twice as many senior officials who were women than men," she wrote, linking to a New York Times story detailing de Blasio's lousy record retaining female employees.
It appears that the two leading Democrats in the Empire State — who are known adversaries — have more in common than they would like to admit, at least judging by Hinton's retelling:
While they had different styles, both Cuomo and de Blasio had one thing in common. Like many powerful men in politics, they create a public image as champions of women's rights and equality. Behind closed doors, they use gender domination as one means to assert their power over women.
According to Hinton, for Cuomo and de Blasio, their "penis politics" are just "second nature."