Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is no stranger to harassment, yes, but she is also no stranger to fighting back. Since taking office in November 2018, the New York congresswoman has been on the receiving end of right-wing abuse both online and in the media. The young, progressive firebrand has pushed a left-wing agenda in Congress that has shaken officials across the political spectrum, from establishment and centrist Democrats to conservative Republicans and the far right. In doing her work, AOC has become an easy target for everyone from hard right members of the GOP, to Fox News anchors, and even her colleagues in the House of Representatives.
But on Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez stood up for herself on the House floor following an incident with Florida Representative Ted Yoho, who verbally attacked her on the Capitol steps earlier this week. “I do not need Representative Yoho to apologize to me,” she said. “Clearly he does not want to. Clearly, when given the opportunity, he will not.”
Yoho reportedly accosted Ocasio-Cortez on Monday over comments she made during a town hall, during which she connected a recent increase in crime in New York City to poverty and unemployment made worse by the coronavirus pandemic. Yoho, apparently very upset over her comments, told AOC she is “out of [her] freaking mind,” and went on to call her a “fucking bitch” once he made his way down the steps.
While Ocasio-Cortez didn’t respond to her GOP colleague outside the Capitol, she shot back via Twitter at Yoho on Tuesday, writing, “'b*tches' get stuff done." But that wasn’t the end of it for AOC, who made her point loud and clear on the House floor. She won’t take abuse from men, especially those who use women, “our wives, and daughters as shields and excuses for poor behavior.”
“Mr. Yoho mentioned that he has a wife and two daughters,” Ocasio-Cortez continued. “I am two years younger than Mr. Yoho’s youngest daughter. I am someone’s daughter, too.” She went on to say that her father, who died of lung cancer when AOC was just 19 years old, thankfully did not see how Yoho treated her, while her mother had to see it on national television.
“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 said.
Every woman is familiar with the type of abuse Yoho hurled at AOC earlier this week, and too many women don’t get a chance to stand up for themselves against such grossly misogynistic abuses, often out of fear of retaliation. That’s part of what makes Ocasio-Cortez’s response to Yoho, which many have applauded online, so important. Every woman deserves respect, and no, we will not accept abuse from men — or empty apologies.