Ex-Cuomo aide, accuser debuts 'Penis Politics' memoir: 'I meant it to be provocative'

Brian Brant
Photo credit Brian Brant

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) — Dozens gathered at Tavern on Reade in Tribeca Wednesday night for the release of a new book by a veteran of Democratic political communications, who rose to prominence as press secretaries to then-Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

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However, Karen Hinton said she decided to write "Penis Politics: A Memoir of Women, Men and Power" out Wednesday, after she experienced a traumatic head injury falling off a treadmill in 2017.

"When I got out of the hospital and I was in recovery, I was struggling with my ability to read, to write, to think, and I had to figure out ways to help myself get back to a place ... I found a group of diaries that I [wrote] in high school, and I'd forgotten that they existed. They were up in my attic and I started reading them furiously, just going through them and laughing and crying and wondering what was going on back then," she said.

Amid discussions of sexual harassment involving powerful men across the country, that suddenly targeted Cuomo, the Mississippi native said she "suddenly became so conscious" of this misconduct, "even though it had been happening [a] long time."

Brian Brant
Charlotte Bennett (L), Karen Hinton (C) and Lindsey Boylan (R) Photo credit Brian Brant

Married to ex-Cuomo aide Howard Glaser, Hinton has alleged she had her own story to tell about facing sexual misconduct, telling The Washington Post in March that Cuomo “summoned her” into his “dimly lit” hotel room in 2000 after a HUD event and gave her an unwanted "intimate embrace."

Cuomo quickly rejected her account calling her a "longtime political adversary."

However, the 63-year-old would go on to dub her experience with Cuomo and throughout her career as "Penis Politics," telling that crowd she understood that the title is provocative but she "meant it to be."

"It describes the way in which men in positions of power assert control over women in a position of being vulnerable and subordinate and it's not just about the workplace, it's not just about politics, it's about home, it's about school, colleges and sports," Hinton added.

However, she argued politics is particularly difficult for women to navigate.

"Too often we see men create this public image as being champions of human rights, I think we can name a few up here in New York," Hinton added. "At the same time though, behind closed doors they use gender domination to assert their authority."

Hinton gave credit to Cuomo accusers Lindsey Boylan and Charlotte Bennett, Assemblyman Ron Kim, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, State Sens. Alessandra Biaggi and Jessica Ramos for "making sacrifices to do the right thing" speaking out against him.

Brian Brant
State Sen. Jessica Ramos (L) and Karen Hinton (R) Photo credit Brian Brant

Ramos worked alongside Hinton, who she called her "friend," as a former communications adviser to then-Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives Richard Buery, telling the crowd she wanted to honor Bennett and Boylan and others who stepped up and owned their stories, which led to state measures to protect women across New York.

"So many of us who have really tried to create space in the law in order to make sure that we are believing women ... and [we] really hope to put an end to just how pervasive this inappropriate behavior is," Ramos added.

Hinton, who now lives in New Orleans said she's hoping her book allows people to come forward with their own experiences of sexual harassment.

"I think by reading about my stories, what I experienced in my life and the time I was a teenager to now, I think [that] makes both men and women think, oh, you know what? That happened to me too ... I want my readers to tell their own stories about what happened to them."

Featured Image Photo Credit: Brian Brant