Fiona Hill Points Out A Harsh Truth About Angry Women

It's common for people, such as Gordon Sondland, not to take an angry woman seriously, Hill suggested during her impeachment hearing testimony.

Fiona Hill, the former top National Security Council official for Europe and Russia under President Donald Trump, shed light on a harsh truth during her testimony Thursday: People don’t take angry women seriously.

Hill, the latest ex-member of Trump’s NSC to testify at the House’s impeachment inquiry hearings, made the remarks when Republican counsel Steve Castor asked her about comments made by Gordon Sondland, the Republican donor turned European Union ambassador whose role in shaping Trump’s Ukraine policy has become the center of the hearings.

“He indicated you were upset and you were upset with [former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton] and upset with the way things were going, and I believe your counsel said that was an outright fabrication,” Castor said to Hill.

Often when women show anger it’s not fully appreciated. It’s often pushed onto emotional issues, perhaps, or deflected onto other people. Fiona Hill

In reality, Hill responded, she was angry with Sondland for breaking protocol around diplomatic policymaking and using a back channel to coordinate with Ukraine.

“I had a bit of a blowup with Ambassador Sondland, and I had a couple of testy encounters with him,” Hill said. “One of those was in June ’18 when I actually said to him, ‘Who put you in charge of Ukraine?’ I’ll admit I was a bit rude, but that’s when he told me the president, which shut me up.”

Her experience trying to stop Sondland from straying into “personal politics” and keeping meetings secret and instead coordinate with the NSC, Hill said, is familiar to most women. 

“I was actually, to be honest, angry with him,” she said. “And you know, I hate to say it, but often when women show anger it’s not fully appreciated. It’s often pushed onto emotional issues, perhaps, or deflected onto other people.”

Research supports Hill’s remarks. A 2015 study by researchers at Arizona State University found that while people reward angry men and question their own opinions when faced with them, they punish angry women and may go as far as to form opposite opinions to them.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly quoted Hill as saying Sondland told her “the president would ‘shut me up.’” The error was due to HuffPost staff mishearing one of Hill’s words. The correct statement from Hill is that Sondland told her he was acting on the president’s orders, “which shut me up,” she said.