“Area man can’t stop himself from insulting women on the internet” is more than just an Onion headline, folks. A Texas city council member has apologized after calling Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a “bimbo.”
Scott Dunn, a city council member in Richardson, TX, a suburb of Dallas, responded to one of Ocasio-Cortez’s tweets, using his personal account to write, “The embarrassment is to have bimbos like you with nothing between your ear." Yeah, he forgot the s in ears.
His use of the word “bimbo” is not a mistake. According to Merriam-Webster, the term is derived from an Italian word for “baby,” and is commonly used to refer to an “attractive but stupid” woman. Dunn, then, is not unique in his sexist “critique,” save for the fact that he happens to be an elected official who had his misogyny preserved in a screenshot. He is simply one of many white men who are able to accept the fact that white men in their 20s get elected to Congress, but not that a woman of color in her 20s can be perfectly qualified to do the same thing.
Dunn’s position as a city council member is technically supposed to be a non-partisan position, meaning any insult that appears to be based solely on someone’s political leanings is problematic.
The fact that it is a blatantly sexist insult is troubling, but not exactly surprising. A quick Twitter search of “Alexandria Ocasio Cortez” and “bimbo” reveals several accounts (many of whom appear to be white, right-leaning men) who refer to Ocasio-Cortez as a “bimbo” in response to her calls for fighting climate change to simply existing and expressing a political voice.
Dunn’s tweet quickly garnered backlash. Richardson Mayor Paul Voelker condemned Dunn’s tweet in a statement, writing that the tweet was “not one befitting an elected representative of our diverse and multifaceted community.”
Dunn issued a standard-issue “I’m sorry you were offended” apology on his Facebook page, which is no longer accessible to the public.
“The words I used were offensive,” Dunn wrote on Friday, according to the Dallas Morning News. “I am responsible for my own words and actions. I apologize to anyone who finds what I said offensive.”
Dunn’s Twitter account has since been deleted.
It is far from the first time Ocasio-Cortez has faced right-wing sexism in her political career. In January, a Twitter account that appeared to be affiliated with QAnon, a right-wing conspiracy group, posted a video of her participating in a viral dance meme while in a college in an attempt to smear her legitimacy as a congresswoman. (It didn’t work.) Ocasio-Cortez has also been the subject of shaming and rumors regarding her clothes, her smiles (or lack thereof), and the fact that she happens to be a young Puerto Rican woman in Congress.