If the name Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (or AOC) is not one you’re familiar with, I’d suggest getting to know it a little better. The New York congresswoman is the youngest ever woman to take a place in the United States Congress (she was 29 when she took office) and has since become a powerful voice in the political space.
AOC proudly fights for progressive changes to policy at a tumultuous time in America’s history. And as recent events have highlighted, the congresswoman will not allow petty political colleagues to silence her.
As The Guardian shares, according to reports from a Washington journalist and AOC herself, the congresswoman was approached by Florida Republican congressman Ted Yoho earlier this week. Reportedly, Yoho was displeased that Ocasio-Cortez had made recent statements linking poverty and crime.
In response to AOC’s statements, Yoho is said to have told her she was “disgusting” and “you are out of your freaking mind”. Ocasio-Cortez told Yoho he was being “rude”. And from here he is believed to have called her a “f*cking b*tch” – as an educated, mature adult does…
Following the (natural) backlash, Yoho responded by saying he never uttered the “B” word, that his words were “misconstrued” and that he is “cognizant” of his language because he’s been married to a woman for 45 years and has two daughters – as if that’s relevant.
It was not long after this non-apology that AOC served Yoho, and the world, the truth bomb that was so sorely needed here.
Speaking on the floor about being accosted by Yoho, Ocasio-Cortez made a point to highlight that no, having a wife and daughters does not get you a free pass. It does not automatically qualify you as someone who treats women well. In fact, it proves nothing about how “decent” a man you are.
“I will not wait up late at night waiting for an apology from a man who has no remorse over calling women and using abusive language towards women. But what I do have issue with, is using women – our wives and daughters – as shields and excuses for poor behaviour,” she said.
“Mr Yoho mentioned that he has a wife and two daughters. I am two years younger than Mr Yoho’s youngest daughter. I am someone’s daughter, too. My father, thankfully, is not alive to see how Mr Yoho treated his daughter. My mother got to see Mr Yoho’s disrespect on the floor of this House towards me on television, and I am here because I have to show my parents that I am their daughter and that they did not raise me to accept abuse from men.”
She continued “…when you do that to any woman, what Mr Yoho did was give permission to other men to do that to his daughters”.
You can watch the complete clip here:
The moving speech stands as a poignant reminder that people in positions of power and privilege do not get to use their family members or friends or partners as “proof” of their decency. Frankly, it’s pretty appalling to even consider it. And this idea doesn’t only apply to gender; it’s relevant for any marginalised group. Author, academic and activist Rachel Cargle has spoken many times about how having Black friends, kids or partners does not mean a person is not racist.
In the end, the only way to show you’re a good and decent person, as AOC pointed out in her speech, is by “treating people with dignity and respect”.
Anything less than that is lip service.
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