From Portside <[email protected]>
Subject Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Denounces GOP Congressman and Cultural of Violence Against Women - Listen to Full Speech Here
Date July 24, 2020 2:26 AM
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[ After sexist attack by GOP colleague, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
said on House floor, her parents Did Not Raise Me to Accept Abuse From
Men. "It is cultural. It is a culture of...impunity, of accepting
violence and violent language against women."] [[link removed]]


ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ DENOUNCES GOP CONGRESSMAN AND CULTURAL OF
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN - LISTEN TO FULL SPEECH HERE  
[[link removed]]

 

Jeremy Stahl
July 23, 2020
Slate
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_ After sexist attack by GOP colleague, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said
on House floor, her parents 'Did Not Raise Me to Accept Abuse From
Men'. "It is cultural. It is a culture of...impunity, of accepting
violence and violent language against women." _

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) delivers speech on the House
floor on July 23, 2020, denouncing non-apology of GOP Congressman Yoho
and the culture of violence against women., Photo: Screengrab/C-SPAN
// Common Dreams

 

On Thursday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez addressed retiring
Republican Rep. Ted Yoho’s nonapology for calling her a “fucking
bitch” earlier in the week. In 10 devastating minutes, Ocasio-Cortez
shamed the Florida congressman as emblematic of a culture of misogyny
and workplace harassment, tied the Republican Party to that abuse, and
once again demonstrated that she is one of the most impactful voices
in the House Democratic Caucus.

Yoho accosted the New York representative on the steps of the Capitol
on Monday over comments she had made connecting crime rates to
economic marginalization—a theory widely accepted by criminologists
[[link removed]].
After Yoho told Ocasio-Cortez that she was “disgusting” and
“freaking out of her mind,” the New York progressive responded
that he was being “rude.” As Yoho walked away with Rep. Roger
Williams of Texas, and within earshot
[[link removed]] of
a reporter from the Hill, he then used the slur.

Then on Wednesday, Yoho took to the floor
[[link removed]] of the House
“to apologize for the abrupt manner of the conversation I had with
my colleague from New York.” He went on to deny that the thing that
Ocasio-Cortez and a reporter witnessed had actually happened. “The
offensive name-calling words attributed to me by the press were never
spoken to my colleagues, and if they were construed that way, I
apologize for their misunderstanding,” he claimed.

As she said in her own fiery floor speech on Thursday, Ocasio-Cortez
had intended to let the incident go, but changed her mind when she
heard the fake apology. After explicitly repeating the derogatory
words Yoho had pretended were not meant for her on the floor of the
House, she explained why they represent more than just a one-off
insult:

Dehumanizing language is not new, and what we are seeing is that
incidents like these are happening in a pattern. This is a pattern of
an attitude towards women and dehumanization of others. So while I was
not deeply hurt or offended by little comments that are made—when I
was reflecting on this, I honestly thought that I was just going to
pack it up and go home. It’s just another day, right? But then
yesterday Rep. Yoho decided to come to the floor of the House of
Representatives and make excuses for his behavior, and that I could
not let go. I could not allow my nieces, I could not allow the little
girls that I go home to, I could not allow victims of verbal abuse and
worse to see that, to see that excuse and to see our Congress accept
it as legitimate, and to accept it as an apology, and to accept
silence as a form of acceptance. I could not allow that to stand,
which is why I’m rising today to raise this point of personal
privilege. And I do not need Rep. Yoho to apologize to me. Clearly, he
does not want to. Clearly, when given the opportunity, he will not.
And I will not stay 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 behavior. 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. Now, what I am here to say is that
this harm that Mr. Yoho levied, tried to levy against me, was not just
an incident directed at me. But when you do that to any woman, what
Mr. Yoho did was give permission to other men to do that to his
daughters. In using that language in front of the press, he gave
permission to use that language against his wife, his daughters, women
in his community, and I am here to stand up to say that is not
acceptable.

The entire speech is worth watching here:

[[link removed]]

Watch here [[link removed]]
 

Beyond making a memorable point about casual misogyny, Ocasio-Cortez
also created a very effective bit of political theater. The speech
linked her political opponents directly to crudely sexist language,
attitudes, and culture, which has been turning a critical swing-voting
bloc of college-educated white women away from the Republican Party in
droves.

In her speech, she explained that this sort of abuse was endemic in
the Republican Party, citing several incidents. She noted that last
year President Donald Trump told
[[link removed]] her
and three other women of color serving in Congress to “go back” to
the countries “from which they came,” making the racist statement
that each congresswoman’s ethnic and racial background made her not
actually American.

She pointed to the dehumanizing language used by Florida Gov. Ron
DeSantis before she was sworn into Congress, when he said, “You look
at this girl, Ocasio-Cortez or _whatever she is_.”

Ocasio-Cortez also called out other Republicans for condoning the
insult with their silence. Williams, for example, later suggested to a
reporter that he hadn’t heard Yoho’s outburst. “Not only did
that colleague do nothing,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “He pretended he
didn’t even hear it when he had in fact jumped in.” She also noted
that neither House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy nor any party
official has publicly condemned the remarks.

“This should not be a partisan issue,” she said. “I have yet to
see Republican colleagues standing up for their daughters and saying
that this behavior was unacceptable.”

This is not a fight Republicans should be eager to invite. Hillary
Clinton lost the 2016 election after losing
[[link removed]] suburban
voters by 4 points and barely breaking 50 percent with
college-educated white women. Currently, former Vice President Joe
Biden leads both of these swing groups by significant margins. In a
recent Washington Post poll, Biden led
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among suburban women. In another recent Fox News poll, suburban women
disapproved of Trump 67 to 33, and white women with a college degree
disapproved of Trump 63 to 36. Among suburban women 54 percent
strongly disapproved, and among white women with a college degree 57
percent strongly disapproved, of the president. These women broke for
Biden 55–32 and 55–39, respectively, and were the groups most
likely to say they were “extremely motivated” and “extremely
likely” to vote in November, according to the Fox News survey.

The more that this key group of swing voters associates the abuses of
the Trump era with the Republican Party and not just the president,
the better chances down-ballot congressional and state Democrats have
in the next election. Ocasio-Cortez understands this, and she has the
power to turn such potential viral moments into political gold

_[Jeremy Stahl is a Slate senior editor.]_

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